Periods are a normal part of life, so why aren’t we talking more about it?
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Periods. Menstruation. That time of the month. These are all different ways we refer to a natural physiological process that women go through. Yet, it seems there is an unspoken rule to keep it hush-hush. But why? Why is something so natural and universal still shrouded in secrecy and shame? It’s high time we break the silence and start talking openly about periods.
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The Burden of Shame
From a young age, girls are taught to hide their periods. They are made to believe that it is something to be ashamed of, something that should be kept hidden from everyone, even from themselves. This notion is reinforced by patriarchy, which crushes the newfound confidence and self-discovery that comes with puberty. Instead of embracing this stage of life, girls are burdened with shame and the belief that there is something inherently wrong with them.
The Taboo Surrounding Periods
The taboo around periods goes beyond just internalized shame. It extends to the public sphere as well. Poetess Rupi Kaur’s photo of a woman with menstrual blood seeping through her pants was removed from Instagram, highlighting society’s discomfort with normal bodily functions. Even Kiran Gandhi, who ran a marathon while free-bleeding, faced heavy criticism. These incidents only serve to reinforce the idea that periods should be hidden and not openly discussed.
The Impact on Women’s Health and Education
The consequences of not talking about periods go beyond mental health. Medically, it can have serious implications. Additionally, when girls are silenced about their periods, it affects their education. Research shows that 60% of girls miss school due to menstruation, leading to alarming rates of school dropouts in rural areas. It is not menstruation itself that hinders their growth but rather the lack of conversation around it. Normalizing period talk is crucial to address these issues and empower women.
Menstrual Hygiene is Neglected
The stigma associated with periods is not confined to urban or rural settings. In both cases, women face challenges due to societal taboos. In rural areas, women often resort to unhygienic methods such as using dry twigs or leaves due to the lack of proper menstrual products and knowledge. This compromises their hygiene and overall health. It is imperative to create an environment where conversations around periods are normalized, allowing women to prioritize their well-being.
Normalizing Period Talk
Breaking the silence and normalizing conversations around periods may seem daunting, but it starts with small steps. It begins at home, within our own families. We can start by openly acknowledging and discussing menstruation, using the word “period” instead of euphemisms. Education is key, and men must be made allies in this process. They need to understand that periods are not just an inconvenience but a painful and draining experience for women.
Educating Men and Empathy
Dr. Niveditha Manokaran, a dermatologist and venereologist, emphasizes the importance of educating men about periods. By raising awareness about the physical and emotional toll it takes on women, men can exercise empathy and provide support during this time. Sensitization should start at an early age, where mothers feel comfortable discussing periods openly, allowing male family members to understand and accommodate women’s needs.
Let’s take charge of the situation and talk about periods openly and unapologetically. By breaking the silence and normalizing conversations, we eradicate the shame and stigma that surround menstruation. It is time to empower every woman to embrace her period as a natural part of life and ensure that no girl or woman feels ashamed or silenced. Together, we can create a world where periods are no longer taboo but celebrated as a symbol of womanhood and strength.