‘It’s time to educate ourselves and others on shame-free menstruation talk, and break the cycle of secrecy, fear and misinformation about periods.’ Period Positive: It’s About Bloody Time
‘How could the monthly cycle that ultimately gives rise to all creation be anything less than beautiful.’ Ananya Grover.
These are both quotes from period positivity campaigners, each dedicated to the fight against the stigma and shame that continues to shroud menstruation.
When I talk about period positivity, I like to compartmentalise it as two parts: there’s the period positivity that seeks to open the door of communication and shake taboos, and the period positivity that is, well, quite literally positive about periods.The quote from the campaign About Bloody Time is an example of this first kind of period positivity, whilst Grover’s, ‘How could the monthly cycle that ultimately gives rise to all creation be anything less than beautiful’, speaks to the positive positivity. Let me expand; a period product advert for the former would be radical in showing a blood-like substance, not just alien-blue fluid, being poured onto a pad. That happened for the first time in the UK in 2017. The latter would show a menstruator dancing, wiggling, getting down, and not only going about their day as normal, but performing it all with a razzle-dazzle glory.
Now, both these types are great, especially when we look back to period adverts in the previous years (numerous period product adverts have been banned for using the word vagina or ‘suggestive’ imagery). And it’s not just our adverts that have changed. It’s the way we speak, the way we feel, and the way we think of our periods.
But here at Freedom4Girls we’ve been thinking about how that positivity might just alienate those whose relationship with their period isn’t quite so glittery. Or if not alienate, then certainly overlook.
Take, for example, a transgender man who has a period, or someone who’s struggled with fertility, or battled with dysmenorrhea, or endometriosis. Or if not a diagnosable issue (or at least a yet-to-be diagnosed issue, given the difficulties people have getting a diagnosis for menstrual problems), then the severe, nauseating, crippling pain menstruators can feel, or the lack of motivation, the sadness, the anger. We want to know, what do these menstruators feel about their period? Are those relationships positive? How might they change over time, or affect the relationships with other people in their lives? Essentially, what does their period mean to them?
And that’s where I’ll introduce you to our upcoming blog-series here at Freedom4Girls. I’ll be speaking with those whose situations have perhaps been overshadowed, whose relationship with their period might be less positive and a lot more difficult, and I’ll be asking them: what does your period mean to you?