PMS: Now Regulated By Patriarchy

Alright, I’ll admit it every month when good ole Mother Nature decides to make her visit I am not a happy camper.  The bloating, the desire to eat EVERYTHING in sight, the constant worry of leaking, and unbearable cramps adds up to me not having a good time.  Now because we’re talking about the capitalistic American society here any of these problems can be easily fixed by the purchase of a plethora of handy products.  Cramps and bloating?  Easy peasy pop some Midol.  Starving? That’s what Ben and Jerry is for.  Afraid of the leak? That’s okay new Always leak guard 360 tampon will save you!  Don’t want to worry about any of it? Try the new fancy schmancy birth control where you only get that pesky thing four times a year!  There are plenty of products to control, hide, suppress, restrain that natural female “problem”.  But the question is then should we? And what are we losing by doing so?  How are we telling women to feel about themselves and their body?

Picture of a woman with the caption
Gotta love her monthly visits!

I don’t about the rest of you, but I’ve always gotten the feeling that my period is something I should be ashamed of, the fact that I bleed from my vagina? Ugh, so gross, let’s try to hide that as much as possible and don’t forget to mask the supposed “smell”, overall just get that shit under control.  Recently, I’ve been having conversations with everyone about how I think the whole industry around feminine hygiene is possibly one of the most anti-feminist industries around.

Yes, because I’d totally find myself in THAT situation

Let’s start off this conversation by talking about the period products themselves tampons and pads.  My first problem with them is that the way that they are sold. Companies push the idea that a woman’s period is something that she needs to hide, “it looks like a candy bar”. Then there is the whole idea that you can freely go around wearing white?  Uhhh…no I don’t care how good that tampon is it’s not happening.  And are we really supposed to relate to that blue water?  Last time I checked that wasn’t what ruined my jeans.  My second issue is the idea that a woman is automatically going to smell just because she’s menstruating.   I can keep myself clean thank you very much and I don’t need your scented anything to do so.  More than anything though, the danger of many of these products is what worries me the most for women.  There are so many chemicals in tampons that are being absorbed into the body and Toxic Shock Syndrome is a real and scary situation.  Also the “scented” products have so many more chemicals to keep you “fresh” but which could ultimately make you feel like death.  And don’t even get me started on the environmental causes of excessive feminine product trash.  Since a woman’s period is something that shouldn’t be talked about we don’t talk freely about alternatives to the media driven tampons and pads.  If you have never heard of The Keeper I encourage you to check it out it’s a reusable product that helps the environment, is changeable when convenient for you, and holds no dangerous health complications.

Then we have the beauty of birth control, keep that period in check and solve all these health problems as well!  Of course you might have to deal depression, anxiety, weight gain, spotting, headaches, dizziness, breast tenderness, nausea, decreased libido, and mood swings.  Oh, and forget about all those recalls that you’ve heard about, it’s all safe we promise! Pfft, give me a break.  Now I’m not completely against birth control and I do understand it helps some women deal with acne, irregular periods, and insane cramping.  However, because of the male dominated pharmaceutical companies I don’t think it’s been tested enough nor do I think we know enough about its effects on woman’s body.  It’s chemically changing our hormones and we really don’t know the long-term consequences.

Finally, what might bother me the most about this whole issue is the shame and disgust that I am supposed to feel for my body’s natural process.  We have been socialized to believe that a period is the most disgusting thing that can happen to a woman.  Your first period is not a celebration into womanhood, but a trip to the store with your mom and she tells you how you can keep this all under wraps.  In health class we are separated from the guys to talk about these issues because god forbid a guy finds out that it’s that time of the month.  The fact that a woman can have a period is a symbol of the fact that a woman can give life and isn’t that the most beautiful thing?  Why should we be ashamed of part of this ability?

Still think that we should just be disgusted because it’s gross?  Check out Gloria Steinem’s article, “If Men Could Menstruate” and see how different life would be if we could be proud of Aunt Flow.  So, tell me what you think about that special time of the month?  What are other issues that bug you with this topic?

3 thoughts on “PMS: Now Regulated By Patriarchy

  1. Amen, sister!

    I love my period (the blood, not the side effects) and have come to appreciate it – not to mention my body – infinitely more than I ever did in adolescence through the use of SoftCups and cloth maxi pads. I have always enjoyed menstruating because I had to wait for so long to get my period in the first place (Cognitive dissonance, woo!) and was delighted to enter what I had built up in my brain as one of the tickets into womanhood. Now, I feel like I’m finally showing my body the love I deserve, and I’m taking a stand against the “feminine hygiene” industry that tells us we’re subhuman 5 to 7 days out of every month. No more crunchy, chemically pads or vagina-scraping tampons. (I always hated those damn vag plugs, anyway.)

    Anyone considering trying out a more body-friendly alternative – GO FOR IT! There’s no “smell”, either, if that’s your concern. Your loved ones will still not know you’re menstruating unless you tell them. Be proud to be able to produce that blood! I’m forever converted and continue to look forward to my monthly present 🙂

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  2. I love this post! I was planning on talking about periods and how the medical and psychological fields are pathologizing women’s bodies and creating body shame (more to come in next week’s post!)
    But the idea of secrecy in how we approach periods is so sad. I had a male relative tell me once he loved his wife, but he would never buy her tampons at the store. They’re married! I feel like you’ve crossed the period threshold by then. We shouldn’t let culturally responses to periods affect upcoming generations of women who have too many pressures shoving them into corners of body shaming. Embrace what makes us women!

    Like

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