Nearly 70 female students at an institute in Gujarat’s Bhuj were pressured to remove their undergarments by their principal to prove that they were not menstruating. This incident happened in the year 2020, in an era of strong dialogues on the empowerment of women and smashing patriarchy.
Is it justified? Is it logical? Ain’t it sexist?
Why are women ridiculed and shamed for something that they can not control and for something that does not control them?
Women make up 50% of the world’s population and for most of them, menstruation is a monthly occurrence. The average woman menstruates for 3,000 days during her lifetime. Periods should be the most normal thing ever. Women still have to fight for being treated with dignity.
There is a long history of menstrual taboos across nearly all cultures. They are prohibited from going into temples, mosques, and gurudwaras and they are not supposed to touch any holy book. They can not get inside the kitchen. It has always been a secret business which has to manage it privately and discreetly. So much so that it can impact her sexuality and her knowledge about the sexual body.
Shame and silence harm women.
Adolescent girls struggle to understand what’s happening to their bodies when they have their first period, and everyday women and girls face stigma and taboos around menstruation.
The only sexual conversation happens with a girl which can’t even be termed as the conversation is when she gets her first period. The conversation generally goes like,” It happens to all, now you are grown up, live carefully’.(whatever it means, the girl is scared and clueless)
Men and boys typically know even less, but it is important for them to understand menstruation so they can support their wives, daughters, mothers, employees, and peers. It is not enough to worship her as Durga and Kali during Navratri, you must accept her physiology too. You can’t decide when she is pure or clean.
And those” that time of the month” joke !!!
This idea that women are completely irrational and incapable of operating as they usually do during their menstrual cycle is a myth. Women have been bleeding once a month since the dawn of time and even during “that time of the month” and they have achieved greatness.
A woman’s relationship with her menstrual blood, something that every woman in a certain age bracket has every month, should be something left to her discretion alone. Whether she chooses to celebrate it, use it as a time to relax and not to do the daily chores, or carry on like it was just another day, should be her choice alone.
Change the mindset:
Speaking about an issue is the only way to combat its silence, and dialogue is the only way for innovative solutions to occur. Periods are a big part of women’s lives. If you are uncomfortable, it’s time to get comfortable.
When you hear menstruation… don’t feel alarmed or uncomfortable, talk about it openly…Period !!!
The day she won’t have to hide her sanitary pads with black polythene would be a day of real equality…The day you stop calling sanitary pads with equal ease as bread and sauce would be a day of men empowerment.