Leslie Carol Botha: It is good to see our sister’s in India speaking out on menstrual taboos – and getting national media attention. Can’t say that happens in the rest of the world.
Nothing to blush about
by Nandita Jayaraj
April 8, 2013
I grew up thinking it was really nice of the man at the drugstore to neatly wrap my purchase up with a newspaper and put it in an opaque black carry bag before handing it over. Now I wouldn’t need to be discreet about carrying… you know… pads.
Menstrual taboos are something the majority of us have grown up with. It is one of those practices which are pretty unrelated to how wealthy you are, where you live, and whether your family is ‘broadminded’. Even if you come from a relatively well off urban setting, even if you have the liberty to return home at 2am a little drunk, even if you’re pro-gay rights and vociferous in your opposition of misogyny (at least on Facebook), you still have some way to go if seeing a girl/woman’s blood stained white pants makes you more uncomfortable than seeing a child’s hurt knee. If anything, the former is less to be alarmed about.
Ahead of its time? Not really…
It’s difficult to break out of its shackles because most of our society is not yet convinced of the need to fight it. Perhaps they’re right… perhaps it is silly to talk of menstrual activism in a place like India, in times like these.
But is that not the easiest way out? Of course you need to pick your battles. While barging into a temple and announcing that you are menstruating may not be the brightest thing to, there are plenty of much less dramatic things that could wake our immediate surroundings up to the fact that we are women and women shed the inner lining of their uterus every few weeks, and that is kind of the main reason you were able to be conceived.
What would happen if the next time your period catches you unprepared, you ask your colleague out loud for a sanitary napkin instead of the meaningful looks? Maybe if more of us did that, prudish men in the surroundings would be shaken out of their fantasy world where women always wore dupattas, spoke softly, and did not pee, poop, fart or menstruate. Perhaps this newly awakened man would now be a little less wary of picking up a sanitary napkin packet for his daughter on the way back home.
This is nothing. Janet Allon quotes Germaine Greer in her article on menstrual taboos:
“If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your own menstrual blood. If it makes you sick, you’ve got a long way to go.”
Adventures in Menstruation: Time to Dump Those Silly Taboos