One of the constants or inevitabilities in our lives as women often involves our period. For most of us, it starts when we’re 14 (or so) and lasts over the next three or four decades. While it’s not the same for everyone, it’s also one “fact of life” that’s most consistently embarrassing. Shame and misconceptions go hand-in-hand with being on our period.
I’m a big fan of talking about puberty and periods with your kids. It’s the part of parenting which allows us to support our kids while helping them navigate the often-murky waters of growing up. The reason those frank and open discussions are so important is because there is so much stigma associated with menstruation, which is why Midol launched a period positive campaign to encourage women to share the “real reason” they feel awful.
Why Make Excuses About Periods?
A recent independent study from Kotex found that 74% of women make excuses for absences when they’re on their period. I think we’ve all done it for simple and understandable reasons. You might have said you don’t feel good, that you’ve caught a bug, or that you’re exhausted and need to rest. You don’t say that you’re avoiding going out because of menstruation.
The reasons for those excuses are obvious. You want to avoid the embarrassment, rude and uncomfortable jokes, and discomfort you think will be inevitable if you admit you’re staying home because of your period. Beyond the jokes and innuendos, period stigma can have greater perceived consequences in your personal and professional life. That’s why this period positive campaign is so important.
Midol partner Charis Chambers, OBGYN, says, “I’m honored to support Midol in creating a world where menstruators aren’t embarrassed of their bodies and feel the need to minimize period symptoms.” Instead of making excuses, it’s more important than ever for women to feel empowered to be honest about period symptoms but also to receive the support they need in a body positive way.
How Does Period Stigma Affect Women?
Will it affect how people see you at your work or in your relationships? Politicians have only contributed to the stigma around menstruation with insults that involve “blood coming out of her wherever.” Beyond blatant insults about sharp, sensitive, or even perceived aggressive behavior, menstruation stereotypes and misinformation have been used as part of misogynist attacks on female politicians like Hillary Clinton.
While it often feels like period stigma should be a long-gone remnant from the past, even the way we still refer to menstruation shows that we haven’t fully accepted it as a normal, everyday fact of life. We still call it “the curse” or “Code Red.” Or maybe we refer to it as “that time of the month” in vague terms of hushed innuendo.
Why Open and Honest Discussion About Periods is Important
By avoiding the topic, we’re all just reinforcing period myths, misconceptions, and stereotypes that often plague our experience. If we can’t be straightforward about menstruation, which is such a significant part of our lives, how can we hope to advocate for femininue hygiene issues that are still so prevalent even in the U.S.?
If we can’t even discuss our periods, how do we hope to explore issues of period poverty and inequality? The truth is that it’s easy to blame women for shortages and lack of access to sanitary products when everyone is afraid to talk about periods. It’s also a cinch for male politicians to add on all those extra tampon taxes for feminine hygiene products. If men had periods, would you see those shortages or price hikes?
Some estimates put the cost of the tampon tax to women at more than $150 million a year. It’s true that some states have already repealed the tax, but you might be surprised by how many states still tax sanitary products. If we’re ever to make headway in the fight for period positivity and menstrual equity, we must first dismantle the stigma that’s been associated with it for so long. As Chambers says, “Together we are celebrating the power in actively and unapologetically owning your period and seeking the relief you need.”
What are your thoughts about this Midol News and other period positive and menstrual equity campaigns? Please leave your comments below!
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