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Carry Pads In Public

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October 25, 2017

Image result for menstruation pad

When we were younger, my sister and I would call menstruation, “The Thing.”  In a similar way, society seems to have a huge problem addressing ‘taboo’ topics for what they are. And in this case, I’m talking periods.

Although not all those who have periods are women, going to a women’s college has given me a unique privilege of noticing how ashamed and secretive many people are about their periods. While some people embrace them and joke about becoming blood sisters with friends or throw moon parties for their sisters, others hide their menstrual pads in shame and make a bolt for the nearest self-check-out line on heavy flow days.

I truly cannot remember how many people have told me the age old story of their male teachers asking why they need to bring their entire bag to the bathroom.  I remember the stories my sister would tell about the sixth grade girls who bullied another girl for having “red  paint on her pants.” It’s not just the general sense of ignorance surrounding menstruation that is bothersome but moreso the mass revulsion of a natural process by the human body, a pretty important process that even plays a role in how every human is born.

Gloria Steinem’s If Men Could Menstruate was a required reading in a Women’s Studies 101 class I took. This dated piece actually begs the question of whether or not society is inclusive of the fact that non binary folk and men actually do menstruate, while simultaneously opening doors to a larger conversation about societal notions surrounding menstruation.

In high school, I used to shove pads up my sweaters and then cross my arms and walk to the bathroom, clenching my sweater for dear life. Blessed were the days when I’d remember to wear sweaters with pockets big enough to allow my neon orange pad to go unnoticed beneath the fabric.

In my first year of college, many students complained of how truly disgusting it was to see so many blood stained toilets. And while it is pretty disgusting namely because it’s someone else’s bodily fluids sliding down the sides of a toilet you’re about to use—bathrooms aren’t a place of worship. You go in there to shit your brains out because the half-cooked dining hall food gave you the runs again. You go in there to piss to your heart’s content because you’ve had this UTI for a week now. You go into a bathroom to bleed to your favorite song as you change your pad and master the art of throwing a pad away while simultaneously opening a new one all the while listening to Spotify’s Top 50 on shuffle. You go into a bathroom for so many reasons, and it’s truly okay for bleeding to be one of them.

The societal ignorance surrounding periods is not only severely disappointing but also dangerously misogynistic. So are the misleading Always commercials that never actually show any of the lived realities of people with periods and only frolicking women planting flowers while swimming while baking a cake—while climbing mount Everest– all thanks to having a pad with wings.

Moon parties have helped to destroy this insidious stigma but people still hide their pads in their sweaters or back pockets and male teachers are still asking “Why are you bringing your entire bag to the bathroom?”

When will this end? When will we allow young and old bleeders alike to bleed in confidence, bleed with in power and bleed in freedom; to no longer entertain the societal notion of vilifying those who have periods?

The inability for many male authorities to step outside of their own perspective long enough to understand that other people exist is not only seriously sad but extremely insensitive to other realities, especially bleeders.

Why do so many people with periods swap stories of waiting for the bathroom to be empty so that no one hears the crinkle of your maxi-pad and the metal clunk of the pad box? Why did this action feel so embarrassing, and why did I always feel so found out in public restrooms, when the pad plastic would loudly crinkly in obvious betrayal, completely exposing me as a bleeder and thereby choosing the social hill I would die on as a menstruating sixth grader?

We are here and we are bleeding. We are not sorry and we will bleed on the hill if we have to.

Carrying pads in public should not be a shameful act and people who have periods should never be made to feel guilty for having them.

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

 

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