If we are indeed out to seek normalcy for the menstrual process, we must stop treating it as sacred, magical or a gift from the heavens.
Instagram recently drew a lot of flak from Internet users for taking down a picture of a menstruating woman, which was a part of a photo series by Toronto-based Rupi Kaur. Now, I wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be an increased awareness about this natural biological cycle and certain myths and taboos need to be shown the door, but is this really how we want to go about it it? At the outset, let me make it very clear that I am all for freedom of expression, and that I, in no way endorse Instagram's decision to take down the picture in the first place (although they apologized and put it up again eventually). All I am trying to say is--are we losing the plot?
For us girls, a soiled pyjamas and bed sheets are nothing unusual, and perhaps that's what the Instagrammer wanted to convey through her picture to sensitize the other half of the human species. While I usually applaud every piece of content that aims at getting menstruating women to be accepted as "normal" instead of being treated like dirty little monsters, this time, for once, I couldn't help but wonder if we are going a little over the top with our feministic charade. Now one could say "if you don't like it, don't see it", but that's a tad difficult to do when you have this (and similar stuff) flooding your newsfeed. All the time.
"Periods are natural, yes, but I wouldn't post pictures of blood-stained PJs to get people used to it, the same away I wouldn't post pictures of poop to explain gastric functions. "
While the picture didn't gross me out, it did come across to me as unnecessary and pointless. But what really grossed me out was this artwork made from menstrual blood.
Periods are natural, yes, but I wouldn't post pictures of blood-stained PJs to get people used to it, the same away I wouldn't post pictures of poop to explain gastric functions. Or of semen to tell people that masturbation is (also) natural. I could really go on here. The question is--where do we draw the line? And how much is too much? More importantly, do these campaigns, however well intentioned, really serve to raise awareness about periods or do they merely make for good viral content? Now, it isn't like men don't know menstruation exists and that sometimes we have to deal with unfortunate leaks, so what are we really out to achieve here? Maybe we need a take a moment and figure out that fine line that separates information from too much information. After all, they aim is to educate people, not to fill them up with revulsion.
Period blood isn't dirty, but it isn't "magical", "sacred" or "art worthy" either--as this other Instagrammer would have us believe. It is just another bodily function--the endometrium renewing itself. Nothing more. Nothing less. And I wish people would start treating it as such, without creating such brouhaha around it. There really isn't a need to put it up on a pedestal and frame stained panties. Neither is there reason to get offended if someone calls it a body waste (which incidentally, it is). Doing so, in fact, may prove to be counterproductive.
The deep-rooted problem of menstrual taboos and the society's general attitude towards it warrants a more scientific (sex-ed who?) and systematic approach. There definitely needs to be more dialogue and discussion surrounding menstruation and women's health. Mothers need to talk about it to their sons just as they do with their daughters. Men need to be sensitized towards the physical and emotional needs of menstruating women in homes and workplaces alike. Perhaps we need to drop the (sometimes amusing) euphuisms like "lady problems" and "that time of the month" and just say I AM ON MY PERIOD. And politely ask the pharmacy waale uncle to chuck the black polythene bag since sanitary pads are not illegal to possess or anything.
Yes, I am a feminist and I believe menstruation should be treated at par with sneezing, yawning, peeing and the like. But I am not about to swing a used tampon in someone's face to prove my point.