Jumping On The Period Bandwagon

So, this morning I have been following links. And this continued until I reached a post entitled: “blaah owwww aughh fuck meee uurgh an overshare“. How could anybody not want to know what the hell that’s about?!

And I read it, and it is about periods. Specifically, really nasty periods. The kind of periods described are the ones that make me rather unhelpfully think “thank fuck that’s not me!”. The whole post is definitely worth a read, including the comments, which are hillarious. And true:

“The most popular narratives are about how periods are really no big deal (and have become even less of one since the writer started using menstrual cups/got in touch with her inner moon goddess/stopped eating hormone-laden meat)” – Colleen

So this is me, jumping on the bandwagon:

I don’t give a flying fuck about my inner moon goddess. And, given that I take the pill and am therefore not at all following my “moon cycle”, I don’t think she really cares about me, either. I also don’t give a flying fuck about using disposable pads and tampons. You know, I’m pretty big on recycling – to the intense irritation of my housemates, I might add. So yes, I’ll wash out my milk cartons and recycle my cardboard boxes and tins and so on and so forth… but I absolutely will not feel bad about not using cloth pads.

Why? Well, because tampons and disposable pads are just that – disposable. I can get rid of them quickly and easily. Also, I don’t think it’s a problem to flush a wad of blood-soaked cotton down the toilet. I have not blocked a toilet yet, and I reckon any toilet that can cope with excrement can cope with tampons. Pads of course go in the bin, because they are clearly not biodegradeable.

If I were to use cloth pads, I’d have two choices: either I’d have to wash them out, by hand, every day, or I’d have to leave them for up to two weeks until I did my regular wash in the laundrette. And you know, regardless of how clean menstrual fluid is when it leaves my body (and it is, in fact, pretty clean), after two weeks, that would smell. And I do not want my room to smell of old blood. Also, when I am on my period, the last thing I want to do is unnecessary washing. I don’t even want to do the washing up, for goodness sake! I’m lucky enough to have pretty light periods now that I’m on the pill, which means I no longer have that horrible pooling sensation when I wake up on the first day of my period. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that most people reading this will know what I mean, but for those that don’t – it’s that feeling when you wake up that you’ve already bled over your pyjamas/ duvet/ sheet, that your thighs are covered in blood, and that, furthermore, the moment you stand up, it will gush. Because the only thing that’s stopped you bleeding more is gravity. And when you stand up, gravity will not be working in your favour.

Anyway, the point is, I don’t get that anymore. I don’t have to shuffle to the bathroom with my legs together and my bloodstained pyjamas sticking to me, hoping that I won’t encounter my father en route, I don’t have to wash my sheets three times in my period week, and I don’t have to try to rinse the blood out of said bloodstained pyjamas when I’m half-asleep and hurting. I don’t want to have to revisit those days, not even a little bit. So no, I don’t want to have to wash out cloth pads.

It occurs to me now that if ever I had a problem with feminism, this would be it: that we police each others’ moral standards. Well, I mean, apart from the rather unsavoury history of bigotry that has plagued feminism and causes some women to identify as womanists/ humanists instead. But seriously, what are we thinking?

What have we achieved if we get society to back the fuck off from the idea that all periods are icky, but at the cost of pretending that none of them are? What have we achieved if we get society to acknowledge that a woman’s choices are none of their damned business, only to create our own hierarchy of who is the “most feminist” based on what kind of period controls one uses?

Isn’t the point of feminism to understand that women are human, and complex, and different, and that one woman’s choice will not work for another, and that one woman’s inner moon goddess is another woman’s fairy tale? Don’t we know yet that we’re not, and shouldn’t aim to be, a hive mind?

And, while I’m on a roll, what’s up with treating women like they all have periods? What about the women that don’t? What kind of a message are they getting? Do they get to embrace their inner moon goddess too, or is that a privilege reserved for the women that bleed? Aren’t we just creating another hierarchy, one which places women who bleed above women who don’t? And why? Is it coincidence that these discussions are prioritising women who show signs of being able to concieve? This, to me, is a pretty fucking uncomfortable thing to think.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be talking about periods. I’m also not saying that we shouldn’t be challenging the notion that periods are icky because they’re a woman thing. I am saying that we need to think about who our period discussions are including, and who they’re leaving behind, whether that’s women who have periods that don’t conform to the comforting “oh, periods aren’t that bad really” narrative, or whether that’s women who don’t have them at all.

Something I’ve learned is that we can all be blinkered, and insular, and yes, privileged, no matter what privileges we don’t have, no matter how much we’ve learned. And if we want to gain allies, and if we want to avoid alienating people, we need to be asking ourselves uncomfortable questions. And then we need to be doing something about it.


5 Comments on “Jumping On The Period Bandwagon”

  1. eloriane says:

    Hey! Thank you for linking my post, and I’m glad it got you thinking. I have to admit, I wrote it in the throes of my first PMS of the year and I was really nervous afterwards about how it would be received, but I’m glad people seem to understand what I mean about how we need to find a middle ground. Periods are just periods. Sometimes they suck and sometimes they don’t, and when they do suck, it’s not because they’re happening in women’s vaginas, it’s because, well, they suck.

    I also think it’s really noteworthy that you brought up women who don’t menstruate. When I wrote my first period post (here) I was still in the sort of hurray-for-discussing-periods mindset (since it had been a year since I’d had one of my own, and apparently people forget pain quickly) but I was still a little iffy about the essentialism in those kinds of statements. You’re totally right. Not all women menstruate. I ended up returning to that idea in more depth with a blogaround on menstruation and being trans, for which it was actually really hard to find posts (I was surprised!)

    And wow, I totally didn’t intend for this to be a “hurray for one link to my blog, now have five more!” kind of post– I just think this is a really important conversation, and you’re completely right on, and, I guess, I want to get you in on the rest of the conversation we’ve been having at Gender Goggles! Here, will it be less egotistical if I tell you that niemaodpowiedszi blogged about it too at Bowl of Foxtrot?

  2. Rebecca says:

    I have to say I agree with you. I’m infertile, I can’t deal with getting my period and I sure as fuck can’t embrace it. I like what you’re saying about how we’re creating a hierarchy around it.

  3. Butterflywings says:

    Well said.

  4. Rachel says:

    Thank you, lovely people 🙂
    Elorian, I don’t mind at all if you want to gratuitously self-reference – it saves me the bother of finding the links that I’d read anyway!
    Rebecca, Butterflywings, nice to see you here!

  5. Yes, this. 🙂
    So, I’m trans (afab) and I hate menstruation. I hate every last fucking thing about it. I was told (because I am a hippie, basically, and hang out with hippies, punks, &c) that I should use a diva cup, use recycled/nonbleached pads, or make my own pads out of whatnot. I have done all of these things. They all sucked, a lot. Diva cups don’t fit because i’m not made to accomodate stuff of that size (they’re f’ing huge, according to me) and natural pads work badly and making your own pads is a pretty bad idea because that shit is not absorbant and then you have gross pads everywhere. I am incredibly gender dysphoric around my period and only increasingly so. I use the BEST products available, once I figured out what they were and how to shop for them. I am hoping to someday be able to stop this whole thing entirely. SO, thanks for this post. It took me a couple years to get over this influence from the moon goddess people (yes they exist within trans circles too… and there are people who want to be “inclusive” of transmen and ftm genderqueers loving their cycle too and going to werkshops about it GAG ME). but now at least I don’t feel bad about how I feel.

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