Have you ever wondered why you are made to feel ashamed about your periods/menstruation? Is it the religion or culture or mothers or society? Haven’t we all had our dose of “period shaming” from different people around us which really made us think that periods are really yuck!
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When you have your periods it is the big NO to anything that has to do with Gods, Goddesses and religions. You are not allowed to enter the pooja rooms, you can’t do poojas, you can’t touch religious objects – be it the holy scriptures or even a tiny religious relic.
You are not allowed to enter the kitchen. There are separate vessels for you to eat in during your periods. Some even go to the lengths of assigning a separate room for you during your periods! It is like you stop existing in your own home when you have your periods. For anything and everything you do in your house, you are constantly labeled as “impure.”
If you need sanitary napkins, it is always through your mom you get it. You don’t tell your father or your brother to get sanitary napkins for you from the shop. When you need to dispose of the used napkins, you do so as if they are your dirty secrets. If you use cloths or cloth pads, then you are taught to not hang them in open spaces for drying after washing them. If you have stained any sheets then they are treated as if it has some disease on it.
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In schools, when it is the time for the Biology teacher to teach about male and female reproductive systems, in most cases the teacher opts out of teaching the chapter and asks the class to read it by themselves in their homes and can later come to her/him when they have any doubts. Now, if the teacher indeed teaches the chapter in the class, then most often there are lots of muffled laughter, chatter and random giggles in the class. There is this air of awkwardness and nervousness when it comes to learning about the reproductive system.
If sex education sessions are arranged in the school, most often they are held separately for boys and girls. And to make matters worse, boys are told only about the male reproductive system and if the female reproductive system is discussed, it is done so in a rushed manner, with bare minimum information. The same applies vice versa for girls in their sex education sessions. End of the day everyone goes home with incomplete information and lots of unanswered questions in their heads.
When you are on your periods while attending school, it is a tough time for you. You are worried that your uniform can get stained and thus fear that everyone will know you are on your periods. When you ask your girls whether they have any extra pads, you ask them in an almost hushed whisper because you were taught to ask these questions only in secrecy. When you have to change your pad, you choose to go to the loo only during the interval time because you don’t want to be seen leaving an ongoing class with a tiny pouch hidden in your palms. When you have period cramps and are utterly miserable, you opt out of the PT classes by telling the teacher you are not feeling well.
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Shame: what for?
Periods are just like any other body process that you have. There is nothing shameful about having periods. The impurity stuff that religions label on periods is just man-made. But it is all there in the scriptures you might ask. Well, we need to ask ourselves whether we think the scriptures all came straight from the Gods, Goddesses? Now, if you believe in Gods, Goddesses, you might also want to reflect on why they would create your body to have periods and then term it as impure?
Our understanding of human bodies has progressed rapidly in the last 100 years. So also the options we have to manage our periods. We now have knowledge about microbes, diseases. We don’t live anymore in ancient times where people understood little about how bodies work and how diseases spread. Periods, back then as well as now, have not caused any disease! Stains yes, diseases no! We have enough choices in various sanitary hygiene products now, that the bleeding can be managed well to ensure there is no scope of any fungal or bacterial infections due to poor personal hygiene during periods. Period blood is not impure! It is just blood.
The cultural shame that surrounds periods comes from a lack of understanding of a normal body process. Once the culture of silence and secrecy on periods ends, then the man-made shame on periods will end too.
Read more at: What you can do to break the period shame?
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