Periods are political. Political in the sense that they are taboo to many and challenge the status quo (or norms, in the sense of cis gender males being the “norm”).
The politics of periods show up in sex. Sexual partners might not discuss period sex. This is important – if one or more of the partners menstruates, the partner(s) with a uterus will menstruate on average seven years of their life; or 1/3-1/4 of the month each month, during their menstruating years. Adult entertainment ignores period sex, and these forms of entertainment are, for better or worse, the primary form of sex education in the US (not surprising with the emphasis on abstinence only education).
The politics of periods show up in government. Period products are taxed unfairly in 35 states (#tampontax http://pink.tax/news/fortune-com-2019-06-11-tampon-tax-us-states ).
The politics of periods show up in children. For girls (those born with uteruses), they often feel shame around their periods, from the “mess”, the silence, the stigma, and/or their changing bodies. Boys (those born without uteruses) often inherit the the period silence, stigma, and shame, via families, culture, or education. Transgendered youth that menstruate have added challenges to navigate.
Do you sense the stigma of periods in your own life? How does it impact you? (Uncertainty during sex, explaining periods and products to kids, etc?)
But periods are important. They’re an indicator of health (https://elemental.medium.com/doctors-think-your-period-should-be-a-fifth-vital-sign-5b882c864783 ) – stress including Covid-induced, nutrition, hormonal changes, and medications can alter or stop periods. For those not trying to have a baby, periods are often worth celebrating or, at the very least, appreciating. Knowing their cycle can help the athlete with a uterus prevent injury (more common during ovulation). Periods can be magical, even spiritual for some – they are 28 days, like the moon cycle, and can connect those that are bleeding with nature.
I have 3 children and am newly a sexuality counselor. A product of our culture, I experienced period shaming and witnessed it. As a parent, I want something different for my kids. We talk about sex at the dinner table (*gasp*; but no, seriously), we talk about consent all the time, and just last night – we talked periods. I brought out wrapped/new tampons, let the kids unwrap them, touch and manipulate them while I explained how and why they were used. We then did #tamponscience – using tampons to absorb water to see how they change shape to fit inside a body and prevent leaks (pictured). We attempted to make tampon rockets (#physics) but the plastic applicators didn’t work well for that job. (I have plans to buy paper-insert tampons to try again 🚀).
My kids loved it. And I got to them before society did though I know I’ll need to keep up the advocacy of comfort and communication. #ResistanceStartsAtHome That’s shame and taboo – they put fear in people and make them avoid the “thing”. Recognize that fear and stigma and step into the growth opportunity by working with those emotions and the challenging topic. That work and acknowledgment kill shame ⚔ (some of the only violence I advocate 😅 ). But when we do this for ourselves, we do it for others and our communities. What may feel like individual work and burden is shared and benefits all.
How did or do you educate your kids about periods?
Interested in talking more about sexuality? We have book clubs and pleasure cafes as spaces to explore these topics. Check the events page for current information.
Happy Friday, y’all. Wishing you rest and resistance this weekend.
#EndTheShame #AllBodiesAreGoodBodies #BodiesAreAmazing
Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT); copyright protected, please cite accordingly. Originally posted to social media on 1/22/21. Image with flowers is from Pexels, the other is mine.
Please consider becoming a Patreon supporter to assist in making my work and educational efforts more sustainable. https://www.patreon.com/ignitewellbeing