Shivani’s blog post Happy Periods? Hah!! is a must read for all. Here is what she says,
” If you are calling the menstrual cycle impure, you are calling whole process of reproduction impure. It is nature’s rule, how can you judge it to be pure or impure being an insignificant human? I don’t think girls need to be ashamed of it. Can you men bleed a week and not die working? You won’t come to this world if this reproduction cycle doesn’t exist, and you make fun of a girl and enjoy in her despair? Shame on you!
Taking off from her post and the fact that even when the TV advertisements scream about various kinds of sanitary pads and their benefits I still feel it is something no one wants to talk about openly as if it a “tainted thing” to go through this monthly cycle. One day when my periods came earlier than usual time accompanied by severe cramps I sent my elder son to the chemist explaining which pack to get. The teenager came fuming with anger and told he “fucked the happiness of the shopkeeper and a lady customer there”. I was interested to know more.It turned out that the guy did not have “black plastic bag” and kept searching for a newspaper to stash away “the thing”.
When my son demanded that he hand over the pack and forget the bag etc the lady standing at the counter told him,
” Beta these things are not carried openly. Doesn’t look good. waise to your mom should not send young boys to buy it . It is so embarrassing or at least she should have given a bag or something.”
It seems the young man blew them apart in front of the whole crowd before leaving the shop. I gave him a proud smile.
After reading Shivani’s post we all remembered the incident and this started a series of debate at home. The taboo topics- Sex education including masturbation, mensuration, sexual orientation and other things.
It became obvious that the father was aghast that I being a woman could openly talk about “such things” with grown up boys and even share “adult jokes” or tease them. Horrifying .
Well, if I don’t talk about it to “grown up” boys do I talk to toddlers then?, I asked
Why can’t a woman talk to her young sons or for that matter anyone about it as part of discussion?
“Not dignified ” came the answer. “Balls to it”, I said. Hypocrites.
During our talks we discovered how most of the schools, offices are not equipped with any disposable facilities mainly because the thought never entered the minds of men who designed the place.
“It is time India had some vending machines installed in bathrooms in malls, offices, schools etc ” , a teenage girl joined the discussion. LMAO, vending machines? First let them become sensitive and most of all aware of the natural process on which we have no control. Let them puke the age-old formula that has been shoved down their throats by the elder women of their homes.
It is ironical that women themselves make it look like a curse. Hiding, feeling guilty and embarrassed about it.
Another one made a face,” it is a private thing. I would not like to advertise it to the world.”
I asked her politely, ” is asking for sanitary pads or tampons and carrying them unwrapped or telling your boyfriend or son or husband to get it for you if they are going to the market an advertisement? Is it not normal to say, ” I have my periods and need napkins etc. or I have cramps or heavy flow so need rest? Is it something abnormal ?”
She didn’t know how to answer that. Obviously her parents never talked to her openly about it and this view was never expressed. What is privacy and what are socially imposed taboos, are two concepts one needs to be clear about.
When a biological body function experienced by half the world is limited to the confines of home and only between members of the gender experiencing it, it needs reviewing. Making menstruation a tainted issue or something to be hushed up and never spoken about with the other gender is counterproductive and completely unnecessary
It is an integral part of our body and being forced to feel extra discomfort or shame about it is not only unfair but it also affect our mental well-being, productivity, self-esteem among other things
During the discussion the boys shared how the jokes go among male friends about women taking pause from men, looking like train wreaks and are things not to be trusted for they bleed for 5 days and still live and so on.
The younger one said that during their class on reproduction all that they could hear was giggles and sly remarks. I and the elder one were the ones who gave him the real lessons.
It also turned out that major section of their male friends either did not have correct info or did not care to talk about it openly. Even in their homes the topic was ever discussed even if they had sisters.
Is menstruation a taboo undercover topic because it is a woman related thing? Would it become a hot conversation if somehow men began to menstruate? A masculine event to brag about ?
My boys think that media is not helping in any way to make the pea brain men aware and in breaking the taboo. How? Well all the advertisements are women based and if men were introduced as supporting understanding factors things just might improve.
A really good thought to ponder on but will it really work?
In her post Shivani talks of absurdity of calling a period “happy” and I fully agree with her. It is the most painful thing mentally, physically and emotionally and the men easily blame it on the hormones and get away during those PMS days. One thing I noticed was the names given to the products, “whisper” a name like this says a lot about society’s attitude towards this important bodily function.
It pushes my button very hard if people use euphemisms for these things. I hate this culture of shame. it is disgusting to see some women subject themselves to self-shame giving in to some stupid deeply ingrained social religious beliefs. .
As we sat thinking on this issue another vein opened. Talking sex is taboo too. Well, talk about it.
Everyone enjoys a good laugh at its cost, sex is talked about in hushed voices and practiced behind closed doors, people drool over magazines like playboy and FTV but when it comes to openly discuss or educate young children a very moral approach is taken.
I have seen parents who are themselves so ill-informed and riddled with misconceptions that they have nothing to offer to their growing children. Also they are too reserved to broach the subject and somehow shove it under the carpet if the kids raise it .
Not all parents though but most.
Masturbation is something most kids learn about on their own. While talking to my boys it turned out that between friend these days girls openly talk about all these issues among themselves and with guys too but that’s a very tiny percentage. Maximum people feel extremely shifty when the topic comes up.
The mindset of parents in so-called modern India is still orthodox when it comes to discussing/ debating sexuality, puberty, live in relationships and relationships in general, sexual preferences etc.
I was stunned when my son told me that his sexually active friends choose not to use protection even after knowing the implications of unsafe sex. Reason ? “It doesn’t feel the same” .
WTF I said.
“Is it the boys who feel this ? What do girls say?”, I asked.
“Well , most of the girls are desperate to experiment and experience the real thing so they agree to it and take morning after pills etc” . He said.
I understand , even adults are curious about sex so it is natural for young boys and girls to be curious and experimenting.
“Pills off the counter I believe ” I said.
Of course , you think they take advice from docs or their parents ? “, he replied.
Why is it that these kids are not guided properly ? Is it that parents don’t spend quality time with their children and that they are no longer role models for them ? Is it that the younger generation sees through the faults in the previous generation and rebels against the system not knowing where it is taking them?
Why do parents think that the child will be automatically educated about sex, is it not their responsibility to guide them?
It is not surprising that Sex is the top search topic on internet by youngsters. I feel it is a huge risk as internet dishes out a lot of titillating garbage which these young brains can not filter.
India is still a country of sexually repressed people with half baked knowledge and utter confusion leading to various problems at all levels be it health, society or anything else.
Is it not time to wake up to reality and break the shackles . To be aware and sensitive. To shake the age-old chauvinistic taboos.
If the urban India is steeped in such muck how do we plan to uplift the rural India?