Go With The Flow: Around the World in 28 (Menstrual) Days

menstruation

Don’t make that face.

On the heels of Menstrual Hygiene Day (it’s a real life, pretty bad-ass thing- don’t make that face!) it seems appropriate to meet your maker and take a fresh look at the red tie that binds- the almighty period- and how it affects women all over the globe.

In the US, many girls have zero qualms sending their dads out to buy the goods (tampons, pads, panty-liners, a six-pack of cronuts) but the taboo of the period is steeped in a rich history of misogyny and bloodshed (see what I did there) that persists in many parts of the world, severely limiting and isolating women during their red tent days. Imagine never having been taught what menstruation is or when to expect it, having little to no access to functioning toilets or a safe place to change your sanitary goods, or worse- not having any sanitary pads or tampons to begin with. Many girls throughout India and South Asia use old rags, ash, grass, leaves or socks to absorb their flow; just pause and think for a minute about how extremely self-conscious and literally unsafe that would make you feel. The stigma that women are “unclean” and a curse while menstruating further alienates women across cultures- even within certain cultural and religious communities in USA. Just search the tag #MenstruationMatters on Twitter and the list goes on.

Not so shockingly, for half of the world’s population between the ages of 10 and 65, menstruation is a reality; which certainly shouldn’t be viewed as taboo- in fact, it is perhaps the most powerful emblem of sustaining life on the planet. Yet why do so many of us get squeamish when we hear the phrase “menstruation?” Could it be that in a patriarchal society, men feel uncomfortable when they hear about a woman’s biology, and that sets the tone for shame (or in the words of South Park‘s Mr. Garrison, “…I just don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.”)? Could it be due a lack of fundamental knowledge about our own bodies, and the lack of education and adequate sanitary tools to address women’s needs? What other reasons might contribute to the historic shame surrounding menstruation?

Think about how ovulation works and be proud of your unique and incredibly smart biological evolution. Anything that syncs up with the moon, ocean tide, and possibly your best friend can’t be all that bad. So cut your period a little slack, treat yourself right, and feel proud- then help ensure that right for other girls across the globe.

(PS- Websites like The Period Store and Thinx are committed to breaking the menstrual taboo, supporting women and girls globally, and even making your cycle a little bit sweeter. Check them out.)

No matter how you do it, just be sure to celebrate your ‘Red Badge of Courage’ like this gal does:

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