Newsflash: uteri bleed. This statement seems so innocuous, but even discussing menstruation is often considered taboo in many societies, including, to some degree, ours. Period-shaming is a worldwide problem that varies in extremity from culture to culture. Menstruation is more than just socially stigmatized, however. The US is facing huge problems relating to menstruation that urgently need to be addressed, and we can’t get rid of the stigma surrounding menstruation or resolve the national issues involving it if we’re too ashamed to even discuss periods.
We as a society (all genders included!) need to be progressive and practical enough to discuss menstruation from a place of knowledge and compassion. Here are five easy ways to become more #PeriodPositive!
1. Stop using exclusionary, gender-specific language when talking about menstruation!
We need to reevaluate the way we speak about periods! Menstruation is often spoken of using language that completely excludes trans people and those who don’t conform to gender binaries. People with uteri bleed whether they identify as women or not. Please stop using exclusionary language that correlates periods to gender!
2. Don’t be ashamed of your period
I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition that causes me to bleed heavily for seven days every other week. So I speak from a place of first-hand knowledge and experience when I say that period leaks happen, and they aren’t anything to be mortified about. I’ve had lovers get grossed out or even angry with me for accidentally bleeding on sheets or my panties. Babes, never tolerate that kind of awful behavior! Menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of.
Also, please don’t be embarrassed to buy tampons, menstrual cups, pads, or Midol! There shouldn’t be anything embarrassing about buying period-related products, because there’s absolutely nothing inherently shameful about periods.
Talk about your period! It isn’t something that needs to be whispered about behind closed doors, or briefly mentioned using code words and euphemisms. If you need to cancel a day out with friends because ol’ Aunt Flow came to town and you want to do nothing but lie in bed with a heating pad watching Ryan Gosling films, say so! There’s nothing wrong with discussing periods. In fact, I’ve found talking about them to be empowering.
3. View periods as time for self-care
I used to see my periods as an absolute curse. But my whole relationship with my body began to change in positive ways when I started embracing my periods. I began to be more period-positive when I realized that menstruation is a time for self-care. Light candles, get away from screens and read a book, buy yourself flowers, indulge your cravings, masturbate/have sex (orgasms are great for cramps!), meditate. Be kind to yourself and embrace the cycle. Don’t let periods be times of embarrassment, shame, and negativity. Take care of yourself, pamper yourself and just breathe!
4. Never let anyone get away with period-shaming
Around the world, menstruation is often a huge taboo. In some cultures, bleeding babes are seen as untouchable, dirty and impure. Sometimes, they’re even sent to live elsewhere during their periods, or denied access to community gathering spots. Harmful superstitions and myths are perpetuated about menstruation, too. Some cultures tell those who are menstruating not to bathe out of fear that bathing would cause infertility, while others don’t let menstruating people go near livestock or crops because they’re afraid menstruation is poisonous. People are stigmatized and ostracized because of menstruation on grand scales.
This is why it’s so important to be educated, open, and positive about periods — and why it’s vital that we don’t promote the stigma by letting people get away with period-shaming behavior of any kind, whether it’s extreme or small-scale. Is your lover giving you shit because you bled on the sheets? Is a friend refusing to be seen with you while you wait in line to buy tampons? Call them out! Raise a ruckus. Educate them. Because the more people know about something, the less stigmatized and scary it becomes.
5. Get familiar with (or involved in!) national menstruation issues
There are some serious period-related issues going on in the US right now that we need to have the courage to be productively talking about. We need to figure out how to help the homeless cope with menstruation on a national scale, and the issue of supplying the incarcerated with enough menstrual care items needs to be addressed, too. Taxes on period-related items are also currently being debated nationally. Educate yourself! All the info you need to get caught up on period-related issues is always just a Google away. Two great resources to check into are: periodpositive.com and homelessperiodproject.org.
It’s time to evolve the way we think and speak about menstruation in an effort to become more period-positive. We can do this by being careful to include all genders in discussions of menstruation, refusing to be ashamed of our periods, viewing periods as times to self-care and recharge, and calling people out and trying to educate them whenever you see period-shaming occurring. Familiarizing yourself or getting involved with projects seeking to find solutions to national menstruation-related issues is another great step to take on the journey to period-positivity. Together, we can end the stigma!