Updated: May 17
There is a menstruation taboo that persists in our world today, despite all the progress made in scientific knowledge and gender equality. Still, many social or religious customs prohibit and restrict women who are on their period in some way or the other.
These attitudes and exclusions prevent women from feeling good about their own bodies, stops them from seeking medical assistance for reproductive health, and are a direct contributor to gender discrimination, and gender inequality.
It is unclear why we routinely encounter skewed understanding and belief in the words and actions of educators, colleagues, leaders, family, friends, doctors, and even the people who themselves menstruate.
However ignorant, arrogant, or oppressive this menstrual stigma may seem, we are here to muzzle menstruation myths that underpin it. And hopefully highlighting the menstrual taboo issue will stir up conversation and understanding around the topic.
What does period shaming look like?
Menstruation is a very natural bodily function. Menstruating women are symbolic of femininity and fertility in humans. Though, women and girls are often made to feel ashamed or embarrassed because they bleed on their monthly cycle. The saddest reality is that this type of gender-based discrimination often comes from close family and friends, and is then reinforced by societal norms.
Examples of period shaming:
Implying that someone is acting irrationally because they are on their period.
Making someone feel like their period is something they need to hide.
Notifying someone that they are leaking in a hushed tone and with a distraught look.
Not using the word period or vagina.
Making someone feel the need to hide their pad, tampon, or menstrual cup.
Young women are made to feel too guilty to take time off of a particular chore because of menstrual cramps.
These are all subtle examples. Of course, there are many more obvious and serious examples.