I've always been pretty comfortable talking about the functions of the human body.
I think a large part of that is because I grew up in a pretty scientific household. I mean, with a brother who's a pharmacist, a brother who studies medicine and a brother who is a plumber our family dinner table conversation runs the full gamut of in, through and out the human body.
One morning last week I had two very different conversations about periods and it got me thinking.
The first conversation was a phone call from my best friend who had rung desperately hoping that after 13 years of friendship our periods had synced up. They had.
The second was a guy on social social who initiated a discussion about period shaming and then went on to tell me, “it’s dried blood that’s left to fester inside a body part which then festers further on a sanitary item - it likely carries harmful bacteria and transmits disease should any be present”.
Now, quick biology lesson because periods are NOT festering dried blood. Instead, every month the uterus lining gets thicker to prepare for a fertilised egg but, when that egg doesn’t get fertilised the padded uterus isn’t needed so, the lining gets shredded and is released from the body through the vagina. It’s like the Red Wedding every month in our womb.
Now, in my opinion these two conversations highlight the period talking spectrum. One openly celebrates everything that is normal, natural and fluid about female bodily functions while the other is an example of the stigma, shame and embarrassment women are made to feel about periods and therein, their bodies. The fact that both conversations took place in the same week the Senate voted to keep the GST on tampons and sanitary pads just proves we still have a long way to go.
Now, let’s be real, no matter how hard you sugar coat it or attempt to give it a less threatening name like “Aunt Flow” or “monthly visitor”, period talk can be messy and uncomfortable because periods are messy and uncomfortable. I mean, Shark Week has nothing on us.
In an ideal world, our wombs would just send us a text to let us know we’re not pregnant but, instead like some kind of Nordic viking out wombs mourn and cry blood…. which is actually pretty damn badass when you think about it. Periods are not the blue ink on a sanitary pad that the commercial world would have you think. Instead they’re the cramps, the hormonal mood swings, the bloating, the breast swelling and the thrown out bloodied pair of underwear.
But, that doesn’t mean we should be afraid or ashamed to talk about periods.
Think about it, when was the last time you were involved in an open discussion about periods? And, no, I’m not including asking a woman if it’s “that time of the month” or passively aggressively offering to buy her chocolate like some kind Willy Wonka wanker.
Struggling to recall it?
Now, when you consider 50% of the population bleeds every month you’d think period talk would be on a continual loop like a Boomerang video or that “#periodpride” would be trending all day, everyday.
But, instead we’ve been socially conditioned to view periods as “gross” and inconvenient. If women talk about periods it’s in hushed tones in the hopes of not offending anyone or being seen as weak or moody. Let's be honest ladies, every 4-6 hours we act like spies on a secret mission when we go to the toilet to change our tampon.
But, periods should be a celebration! A celebration of a body that can bring new life into the world and tenaciously regenerate itself every 28 days. A body that deals in blood because it knows a blood oath is the strongest promise a person can make. Honestly, I don’t know understand why guys don’t fuckin’ love periods, I mean they literally mean they’re not going to be a dad that month!
Look, I'm not saying we should all go Edward Cullen enthusiastic and bathe in menstrual blood but, maybe if we start looking at periods as a gift rather than a burden then maybe, just maybe, we’ll create a generation of girls who are not ashamed to bleed.