Menstruation’s Life Blood
By Maria Garcia
When I first got my period I was thrilled: “I am growing up and becoming a woman! How exciting!”
But my cousin, Luis, brought me back to “reality” with taunts of, “Tampon head!”
I did not think my period was anything to be ashamed of, but his reaction proved me wrong.
Over the years I grew more comfortable… but then BAM, second shaming experience:
One afternoon I changed a pad, wrapped it in its plastic wrapper, and tossed it in the bathroom trashcan. But when my grandmother saw it she scolded me: “What if Luis saw it!?”
Apparently, I must wrap the pad in toilet paper as well. To disguise it, I suppose?
Educating Luis about respecting the functions of a woman’s body was not an option.
I learned to be ashamed of my female bodily functions.
Who’s afraid of menstruation?
It’s not just my family. It’s the culture, too.
On the rag. That time of the month. A visit from Aunt Flo.
These are all phrases seeking to disguise what’s happening.
And words describing menstruating women include: irrational, moody, angry or just plain “bitchy.”
Nothing nice about that!
A girl’s first sign of womanhood is rarely discussed, let alone celebrated. Girls hide their periods and the things that go with them, as if they were contraband.
Why is menstruation seen as a negative thing? It makes life possible. Life is good. So menstruation is good.
None of us would be here without it!
Some cultures celebrate menstruation. Among the Apache the onset of menstruation is celebrated. Girls are showered with attention as tribal members sing, pray and dance nearly non-stop in a four-day celebration.
That celebration gives young women confidence in themselves and their changing bodies.
Menstruating women, unite!
I’ve come to see the error of my old negative feelings. Now I speak openly about my period, and I do not believe it’s “TMI” (too much information).
Women must get comfortable with menstruation, ourselves, before we can expect men to get comfortable with it.
And discussing our periods instead of avoiding the topic could help women unite.
We should all “get over it” and embrace our life-giving periods!
This was written by one of my students, who wanted a pseudonym (to protect her grandma and cousin).