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Author Topic: About periods
zeta
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Well, I was at a concert last weekend. A girl came up to me at the bathroom line. She was horribly embarrassed, and finally asked in a very tiny voice whether I had any tampons on me. It happened that I did, and handed her a handful. She proceeded to apologise profusely that she had to ask, and explain how happy she was I had some because she would not have had the nerve to ask everyone around...

She was in her late twenties and at the concert as a journalist. I'm in early 20's and an outspoken feminist. Yet I handed her the tampons as if I were distributing illegal drugs -very discreetly.

I started thinking about it, and realized most of the "female hygiene product" advertisements go on about how no-one'll be ever able to tell one's having one's period. Everything -even Keepers -come in discreet packaging that looks like something else.

Why are we so embarrassed about our periods? Every woman of fertile age bleeds once a month, more or less, unless pregnant. Why do we think it's gross? Why do we go out of our way to hide it?

I do complain about my periods and the hassle attached, but most seem to think it very forward of me. And if I do fail with my "safety measures" and get blood on the sheets, I am extremely apologetical -even with boyfriends who happily leave sticky messes on *my* sheets.

So why is it that women tend to be so very embarrassed of the bleeding, when it is after all only a sign that our bodies are functioning zs they should?

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I don't get even, I get odder

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pwk23
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It's probably part of the stigma that comes from long ago, when women were considered "unclean," because the idea of a menstrual cycle didn't exist. Women bled once a month, guys didn't, and in a patriarchal society, that meant that women could be "dirtier" than men (in a majority of cultures around the world, I think). In many respects I don't think society has been too open with coming past the idea of feeling "dirty" when one has to talk to another about her period--even if it's to another woman.

That, and we're talking about routine bleeding from the genitals. I think we feel apologetic to men when we have to talk about it because it's just something that SOUNDS abnormal, even if it isn't. I mean, bleeding from anywhere else on the body is generally not a good thing, so maybe there's this sort of subconscious idea that this isn't either.

I know that, for instance, my current boyfriend isn't that incredibly squeamish when talking about periods and such, having grown up with four sisters, but even then, I still hesitate if I'm thinking of talking about it with him, and even avoid saying "period" a lot, refering to it more neturally as "cycle," which sounds less...severe...somehow. Not really logical, huh? I know he's ok with talking about it and such, but I guess I feel conditioned by society to keep it as toned-down and neutral as possible, if I even bring it up in the first place.

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zeta
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Well, I do have the nerve to talk about period with boyfriends -I've always had the slightly aggressive view that since they tend to like my body for the exact reason that it is female (so okay, current is bi, but in general) they can bloody well (pun not intended but appropriate) deal with the rest of it, too. You want the boobs and the curves? Cool, guess what, blood goes with it, chance of pregnancy goes with it, alarms about my general reproductive health go with it, deal with it. If you're not prepared to deal with my body as a whole package, then you're not getting any of it.

I mean, I want to enjoy my sex life, and I can't exactly do that if the guy around is under the impression that I'm made of plastic. I need to be at ease and accepted.

I do apologise like shock when, say, getting bloodstains on sheets, as mentioned. Feels like as a semi-adult female I should've figured how to not to, by now. On the other hand, boyfriend's "male" probs never get anything but sympathy.. Then, can't remember the guys being mean either.

I was more wondering, why do us women, amongst ourselves, act so embarrassed? I can, and do, complain about the cramps to male of choice, but not to a female friend, unless she does first. At least to me it seems like I consider period something to talk about in very intimate relationships, something I feel free talking about at about the same point I start talking about having sex.

But period happens to every chick, nothing to do with intimacy, just a body function. Ok, so some body functions are gross. But you hear ppl going "xcuse me, need to take a leak" all the time -never heard anyone say "xcuse me, gotta change my tampon/pad/empty my keeper".

I can see why guys would be initially freaked, after all, they don't bleed, and it must be weird, especially to those w/out sisters. But why do we ourselves act like it's a big deal, when it's really only to be expected...

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I don't get even, I get odder

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feefiefofemme
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Heh. I've always been pretty open about my bodily functions. Not to the point of being rude, but nonetheless. Me and my group of girlfriends and female relatives are totally comfortable about talking about our periods, borrowing a pad/tampon/whatever, asking for a pair of clean shorts if we get a stain, etc. Then again, we talk about everything from bands to sex to school to constipation to crushes to our womanly bits. I guess I'm just lucky, but for us it's really not a big deal. I'm very reserved about talking about that kind of thing around people I'm not familiar with, though. You run a high risk of making someone uncomfortable or offending them, and I try to avoid doing that most of the time. Still, I don't really understand why things that are so natural are so taboo. I suppose it's because it makes us seem more animalistic, and we try to avoid that as much as possible.
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wobblyheadedjane
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I think this is a great topic! I was never particularly discreet about my period, though I've become more vocal about it since making the switch to reuseable menstrual products. I tell all my friends how great they are, I complain about cramps to my fiance, I talk about how having my period makes me feel. I'm cool with toning it down if people say it makes them uncomfortable, but I'll also ask them to think about why it makes them uncomfortable. It's always a good dialogue-opener, and you find most people are willing to talk about it one way or another if you ask.

I remember getting angry with an ex once, who was roomates with my current partner, because I had left a pad wrapper in their washroom. He accused me of 'flaunting my relationship' in his face, but when I pressed him ("I'm sorry, I wasn't aware I was supposed to bleed through my pants when I was over.") the reason why the wrapper really offended him because it was a blatant reminder that though we were no longer together, I was still a sexual being. It was an interesting, and infuriating experience, and around that time I vowed to not be ashamed of something that was natural, and necessary for me ever again.

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Unlucky at cards; lucky at love.

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Shimmer
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i've never been embarrassed about my period, i'm very open about it becuz i am female and it's a perfectly normal and natural thing. plus there are commercials all the time about cramps and pads and tampons, i mean my gosh by now men should just have learned to deal with it. i find it offensive that they have the nerve to find it offensive! and i'm especially offended when another woman is uncomfortable talking about it. because there's absolutely no reason to be embarrassed about something like that, it's real, it's normal, and while i understand it may make a few people uncomfortable to have a whole conversation about it i don't think it's right for anyone to freak out just at the mention of it. if i'm a little pissy i make sure i let people know why, if i'm feeling sick because of cramps i'll say so, if my boyfriend wants to fool around during that time of the month he's going to be forewarned of the blood that might come with it, and if i'm out of pads and need to go buy more i'm not going to be embarrassed at the check-out line.

i just find it incredibly offensive that periods are still considered embarrassing in this day and age.

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LilBlueSmurf
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I used to be embarassed about it. I used to not be able to buy my own pads and tampons ...

Luckily, i got over it pretty quickly. The only time i'm uncomfortable talking about it is if the person i'm talking to is uncomfortable. I'm not going to go out of my way to make people uncomfortable and if i know ahead of time this isn't a topic they can handle, i'll avoid it. However, i'm NOT going to sit by and listen to someone go on about how dirty/nasty/gross/whatever periods are ... Give me a break. Blowing your nose and pooping and horking up green phlegm when you're sick and other normal 'bodily functions' can be seen as 'gross' too but we all do them. Periods are no different. Fact of life. Get over it and move on [Wink]

It helps that i'm a nurse. An obstetrics/gynecology nurse at that. I ask women about their vaginal bleeding on a daily basis. Not just how much ... What colour is it? Any clots? Any foul odour? ... And if i'm not happy with the answers i'm getting, i'm gonna want to see the pads too! Luckily, most women i see are used to answering these kinds of questions.

To answer your question ... I don't really know. Other than a few, most of the women in my life are pretty open about their cycles. Maybe it gets easier to talk about with time ...

[ 07-06-2006, 08:27 PM: Message edited by: LilBlueSmurf ]

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wilddove
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Its something I wish I was more comfortable with, which is why its great to have ST boards to discuss if I have issue.

Buying tampax or whatever is fine but I won't go to a male teller. I think I'd feel embarrassed or he would or something. I'm shy about that stuff esp in public.

I think I was brought up quite in an old fashioned way and sex and periods were not something u discussed, I was told the facts by my mum and told to ask if I needed to know stuff and had sex ed in school. Didnt help I got bullied repeatedly at school and didnt have much confidence or many female friends during teens.

I am a lot more open about it then I think my mum is and if I have a daughter i'd try to make it a relaxed subject and nothing to feel embarrassed about.

In general I think a lot of changes during teens are embarrassing or akward and everyone handles them differently

shimmer wrote: i just find it incredibly offensive that periods are still considered embarrassing in this day and age.


I find them a bit embarrassing but I dont think that it is offensive to be embarrassed, as long as you do not get angry with someone if they bring uo the topic.like if someone wanted to talk about mine or compare and i didnt know them well or was uncomfortable i'd tell them I prefer not to discuss that private stuff BUT if someone had q's or concerns and had sought myself i'd try to help and answer: I think there is a big differnce in the two scenarios.

Basically I wouldnt make it everyday chatter but i wouldnt ignore someone who had a q on periods if they needed me to and i knew the answer.

not sure how you meant that statement shimmer, but it came across a bit strong to me [Smile]

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Shimmer
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hm yes i can see how that did come out wrong.

i just meant i get offended when i'm told i should be embarassed and keep it hush-hush, mainly when i'm with a group of people who i know well and am comfortable with, the topic shouldn't be taboo. i think this stems back to my days in junior high, my teachers and peers weren't allowed to discuss these things even though they would say how it all was completely natural for us young women we still should be discreet and ladylike and not discuss such things. now anytime someone i'm close to acts embarassed or tries to cover up the reason behind cramps or a little spotting or whathaveyou it just totally rubs me the wrong way. because we're all female and there's nothing embarassing about something so natural.

with men i do try to handle it a bit more delicately so as not to make them too uncomfortable, but as i said in my last post i'm not going to hide it. if i have stomach pain i'll say so, if i'm a little snippy i'll say why, if i need to buy feminine products i won't be ashamed to at the check out line - even if the checker is male - he knows what the store sells and he knows women buy them [Smile] i'm proud to be female - we have to be pretty strong to put up with monthly pain like that, men don't have a clue what they're missing out on [Wink]

[ 07-08-2006, 09:55 PM: Message edited by: Shimmer ]

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wilddove
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I see what you mean now [Smile]

We should be able to discuss it witthout being made feel embarrassed

I wonder how guys truly feel about it, do they get uncomfortable or squeamish or what?

I felt really sorry for this teenage guy in a supermarket, he was stacking the female products tampax etc shelves and several boxes (half the display) fell down, poor love looked a bit flustered.

I've always wondered what detail do boys learn in sex ed or from parents about periods, like do they know anything about them apart from purely physical biological (science style) description

I thonk i always was given the impression its not something appropriate to discuss with the opposite sex which is a pretty unhelpful impression to have had instilled for years

Posts: 112 | From: Ireland | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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