Sensitivity Is Awareness : Are we ready for change ?

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!

If our strictly traditional elders loosen their mythological, ancient, superstitious-and add whatever adjective you wanna add-traditions, and men become more understanding and start treating us as humans when we are down, we might really have a Happy Period. Mere saying doesn’t make it happen.”

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.

It sucks.

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?

19 thoughts on “Sensitivity Is Awareness : Are we ready for change ?

  1. First of all Tikuli, its commendable the way you have raised your kids! Not many mother would discuss these topics openly with heir kids ! I think its too much ingrained into our psyche that some things are just taboo and not to be discussed with anyone specially males. I think more education is what we need here, including educating the women who think that Menstruation is a taboo topic and something to be just suffered silently.

    Thank you Ruchira
    Women suffer many things silently and trust me I know most of it from my own experience. I dont want my sons to grow up and become narrow minded ill informed adults.
    The more we break our own shackles the better we can teach the kids.
    Glad you liked .Why not write about it .We can make a chain.


  2. I am so sorry to have read this so late, although I got the link days ago. Was busy as exams are approaching.
    I LOVE YOU for this post, absolutely, honestly. Thank you for pointing our so many things I missed.

    Yes, whenever I buy a sanitary packet they always cover it up with paper or black poly. Why? Because people would come to know the girl is in periods. So what is so bad about it? The woman on the counter who tried to teach your son should be asked doesn’t she menstruate? Every woman does, so how can a woman degrade her own dignity by hush hushing her reproductive process?

    Secondly, you very well pointed out the “Whisper” thing. The ads shout out “Have a ‘happy’ period” and then the name suggests otherwise. What an irony! Contradicting their own tag line. It does speak out society’s mind.

    Will men start bragging about it as a masculine thing if they start menstruating? ROFL!! Maybe yes!! Women will start associating it with some kind of “manly” attribute. Its women who first started the taboo, we must not forget.

    Taking about sex, yes it is needed. I am glad I got a very open minded class teacher and classmates. I studied in coed school. I was a biology student at +2 level and reproduction was taught in detail. No body giggled, no laughs, no sly comments. We used to have class quiz and GD on this chapter which included the discussion over reproductive organs as well. Girls and boys participated equally.
    Same thing didn’t exist in students from other schools. I was shocked when I talked to a friend from Carmel, which is only girls school, not coed, and she told me that the teacher didn’t teach reproduction chapters at all.

    You have raised your kids really well. You must be proud of them. And my post started a debate?? wow!! 😛

    Hey Shivani , good to see you here. Well I know you are a student so no worries girl. You have a fire within and I love it.
    Do keep writing and share the post if you wish . The more people know , the better it is.
    We can start a chain and maybe some male bloggers can write too. I try to give my boys the best of what I got from parents.
    I have to fight for it at home. Trust me it isn’t easy at all but I dont give up.
    Keep coming back for more and do leave your views. love you too.


  3. Tikuli , this was one of the best written posts I’ve come across in a long time. Absolutely loved the frankness and honesty in the post as well as in the way you have raised your sons.
    I too talk a lot with my ‘almost teen ‘ son , an am really inspired by your post.
    Yes, it is the women themselves who have to bring about this openess , Because the men either don’t bother or don’t feel the need to.
    My constant prayer and effort is that my children come up to me and ask about ‘the things’ rather than garner half baked damaging information from elsewhere.
    A fantastic post! please write more, and thanks to Shivani for raking up this issue in the first place. If you permit, may I share your post with others too on my blog, as your entry?

    Na thanks you so much. I am lad that my post connected well with so many of you. I meet so many teenage friends of my boys and many adults who have serious problems of either understanding the things which are integral part of our lives .
    I try to do my best to talk with my children and hope they will do the same with other.
    Sure you can share my post anywhere and Shivani’s too as she mentions. 🙂
    The more we spread the awareness the better it is. Keep dropping by, feels good. hugs


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  5. Loved this post , everything about it. There are a few (very few) families where everything is discussed freely but still most of the people live in the dark ages .

    I have a word for those who think the menstrual blood is impure…actually it is the purest if origin of life cells is taken into account … those blood cells are the stem cells and in the future they might be treating those sick minds:)

    It was a great post Tikuli…

    Kudos to you girl. I am sure more people will be encouraged to come out and talk freely and most of all understand and be sensitive . Thanks a ton.


  6. Loved this post Tikuli. You must be so proud of your well brought up sons. I am glad he gave them a piece of his mind.

    Thanks IHM. Good to see you on my blog. Do keep visiting. I think as a parent it is my duty to impart whatever good has been passed on to me from my elders. hugs


  7. Hi Tikuli, you really have addressed every point in the post very well…good to see that you have brought up your sons in very liberal and real way. Kudos !!!

    Thanks so much Maverickshree. I try my best to give them all I can. Roots and wings.


  8. I am so happy to see ur son, give them a piece of his mind…Bravo Mommy !!! 🙂 🙂 And son too… 🙂

    How much difference we make as parents in our child’s lives, by imparting the right info at the right age and time !!!

    Am glad to be doing my bit as a responsible mother, by teaching my girls…..some might feel that I am talking things beyond their age…but I feel that they shld learn it right.

    Good post. 🙂

    You are doing the very right thing Uma and one day the girls will share all they learned from you with their children and make sure they do the same. It is something every mother must do. we can make the difference .
    Thank you so much . Hugs and best wishes .


  9. Been always up for wat is right
    Some people don’t n maybe will never get over such so called taboos unless they’re given a kick on their arses
    We all need a change of mindsets, a change towards the better…increasing our horizons
    cos the very rise of a better world starts with better people 🙂

    Adi you did what was right. I am proud of you that even after so many hardships that we share you have emerged mature, sensitive and focused. Keep it up and kick some butts where it is needed. Hit where it hurts most. Stand up for humanity. Love you beta.


  10. Loved this post! 🙂
    I have spoken about this too sometime back and totally agree with your views…
    My husband always brings it for me and a pack is included in the monthly grocery list!
    Dad used to do the same! 🙂

    And I really like the shop I go to for my groceries – even if I buy a pack of sanitary napkins, he doesn’t wrap it up or put it in a black cover – he asks as usual if I have a bag, else, he puts it in the usual white cover and hands it over! 🙂 🙂

    Fantastic. Cheers to that. I respect men who see women as equals and have the same level of sensitivity and understanding towards them as they have for themselves. Glad to know that the shopkeeper is not blinded by age old customs. More to such people. thanks for reading and appreciating.


  11. Loved Adi’s comment and ur reply to it. 🙂

    Guess what ??? I made my elder one read this post…

    Pix, even I buy it in my monthly list….and it comes along with all my regular things…whats there to be ashamed or embarrassed abt this natural thing ???


  12. Simply blown away by both the posts…..infact I loved it so much that I took the liberty to forward the blog link to some of my closs female friends and associates….hope more and more women become as understanding as you are… 🙂


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  14. I agree with everything you’ve said, but I’m afraid I HAVE to point out a major error – you keep talking about mensuration, whereas what you mean is “menstruation”. Mensuration is “the skill of measuring the length of lines, areas of surfaces, and volumes of solids from simple data of lines and angles. Mensuration in its literal meaning is to measure”.
    Just thought I’d point it out.

    Gosh that was a typo I should have seen. Thank you so much for reading my post carefully and pointing out. I clearly should proofread more. Am sorry about the blunder.
    Of course I know what mensuration is ..eeeshhhh Sorry again.
    Thanks Shyam just corrected .


  15. Tikuli, this is a great post! The way you brought up your kids is commendable!

    You might think it is absurd or immoral for me to ask this, but I am still taking this liberty with you: What do you think about parents having sex in front of children? Or parents being naked in front of children? How old should the kids be before the parents stop doing such things in front of children, if they do it already?


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  17. Congratulations 🙂 This post in one of the winners of ‘Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards – 2011’ (TRBA 2011). We would like to create an ebook with all the winning entries in 47 categories on Feminism and Gender Issues in India (and one category on Animals Rights). Please do let us know if you are fine with your winning post/s being included in this ebook. ( Please click here to let us know).


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