Menstruation’s Life Blood

Menstruation brings life.

Menstruation brings life.

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).

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 27, 2016, in feminism, psychology, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Hello and thank you for this article. I feel the same way that why be ashamed of we as a whole society need to get over the “shame” or hiding of our menstrual cycles. Becoming a woman is a big transition and girls should not be made ashamed or feel like it is a dirty little secret that needs to be hidden from our male family members. Instead we should embrace our natural selves and hold a celebration and welcoming of a girl into womanhood. I bought each one of my four daughters a little trinket to celebrate their growing up and becoming that much more beautiful as a young woman. Thank you again.

  2. I dislike the idea that people out there are more focused into shaming girls. Menstruation is a given, and every part of a girl is a given, without it, girls would never explore the feeling of being a women. I surely love a culture that has a sign of life, such as celebrating a baby’s first word. Just because girls menstruate that shouldn’t mean that it’s hideous, sure we have to clean up after ourselves, but it shouldn’t be taken up into an extreme! Most guys in a relationship don’t clean up after themselves, because they sometimes forget to do so, their girlfriend does it for them, and yet they are mature about it. That same thing should be applied to the girl.

  3. vanessa velazquez

    Honestly though why are women so ashamed of saying they are on their period. I agree that menstruation is a beautiful thing that brings life! I totally can relate to this article because my mom constantly gives me shit for not wrapping the pad in toilet paper so my brother doesn’t see? When I ask why she just says for “self respect”?? I don’t quite understand how am I disrespecting my body by not concealing my pad. I’m pretty sure they are well aware when I am on my period so why go to that extent to hide the evidence.

  4. This a great topic. Some cultures have certain restrictions on females when they are on their period, like, they can not pray or go the prayer place or even touch anything related to praying. It makes me sad to see how females on their period are treated. Why so much restrictions? its’s not that we asked for that but it’s something that was given to us to give life. We females go through so much in our life like going through period and the pain and what are we expected to do? Hide! hide everything we go through. We are thought not to say anything to others regarding our period but hide everything. I don’t think girls should be ashamed for having period because it gives us privilege to give birth. Males should be educated by females how female body works and what we go through not hide our period.

  5. A girl’s first menstruation is a celebratory event among Hindu societies in India. The girl is given a ritualistic bath by elderly women and dressed up in glitzy costumes, followed by visits by gifting friends and relatives. Now with increasing urbanization and nuclear families, many of these customs are slowly fading out.

  6. The question occurs to me, How could women who have any sense of self-worth vote for Donald “Blood coming out of her whatever” Trump? –and yet, although most women won’t, millions will (like they don’t care what’s coming out of his mouth?).

    • It’s a question that has puzzled me too. And so I have asked some of them.

      Here is the response I got from an acquaintance of mine who is a black woman — yes black, and a woman, and still voting for Trump:

      He is not a career politician. He is for America. He know’s how to generate jobs. He understands that we have a problem with illegals. He understands that we have a problem ISIS. He knows we have to make our nation strong again. Because the liberals think they can manipulate the system and get away with it. Because he didn’t fix votes. He believes in voter ID. He will hopefully repeal the “not so” affordable health plan. Just to name a few

      Apparently her premiums rose with Obamacare (she told me another time). And like many Republicans she’s fearful of outsiders taking what she’s got. Instead of realizing that the main problem she faces is that most of America’s financial gains of the last few years went to the top due to technology, off shoring, outsourcing, low minimum wage, union busting… And then rich think tanks blame Mexicans and China to distract.

  7. It is a bit amazing that for as progressive as society can be, you ask and answer a question that is a bit embarrassing: “Who’s afraid of menstruation? It’s not just my family. It’s the culture, too.” It has always been this secret thing ~ and us guys I think are simply terrified because we really do not understand it much at all :-/ I’d much rather celebrate it for the very reasons mentioned…just thinking about celebrating it relaxes me 🙂

    • And both women and men learn to see menstruation as bad in a culture that devalues women and their life-giving. We mostly all unconsciously internalize it. Although we are beginning to move outside of it.

  8. When I was a teenager I was desperately waiting for it… and it just didn’t come. I was jealous of others and they were jealous of me, saying no hassle every 4 weeks is easier. Well it was a medical reason for me and despite that I had 2 lovely boys. Menstruation is a good thing and should not be hidden and giving birth is the next miracle in a woman’s life.

  9. happyfreeconfusedlonelyatthesametime

    My therapist says all those things are about men being jealous of women being able to give birth

    • Could be in their origins. Some early, gender equal, peoples believed you shouldn’t touch a woman when she was menstruating because she was so powerful that she could hurt you. After all, she was expressing the ability to create life. When male dominance arose a couple things happened. And different things happened in different places.

      In some places gods started to become mothers: Zeus gave birth to Aphrodite and Dionysus. The god Uranus births Aphrodite. God the father gives life to Adam who gave birth to Eve. Here’s more: When Gods Were Mothers

      Another thing that happened was that menstruating women began to be seen as polluted instead of powerful. And so Hindu women couldn’t enter temples or eat at the table with their families when they were menstruating (some of that has changed and some hasn’t). Ultra Orthodox Jewish women cannot be touched while menstruating, for fear of pollution, and they must take a ritual purification after menstruation.

  10. “None of us would be here without it!”

    Most mammals don’t menstruate, so technically you would be here without it.

    • Well we aren’t those other mammals, are we? So the fact remains: we wouldn’t be here without menstruation.

      • What, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t menstruate? You’re rather anti-menopausal women aren’t you? A hypothetical world where biology didn’t evolve menstruation, humans wouldn’t be much different.

      • Sometimes you make insightful comments — which is why I haven’t spammed you yet — and sometimes you don’t. Every now and then you write something that doesn’t logically make sense, Like this. Given the reality of the human reproductive system, none of us would be here without menstruation. In the future I won’t approve comments that are this illogical because they waste my time. But like I said, you sometimes actually have insightful things to say. I look forward to more of those.

      • I don’t get it. You post an article posing a hypothetical, of something isn’t in fact the case, being no menstruation. Do you not understand the concept of posing a hypothetical? I point out that biologically speaking, if humans hadn’t evolved menstruation, there is no reason to suppose we wouldn’t exist. So I called your bluff on your hypothetical. Your response is that menstruation is a reality, therefore I shouldn’t examine the hypothetical of what if it didn’t exist. Hello? Who posed the hypothetical, me or you? You posed it but don’t like it examined. What is your basis for saying that if humans hadn’t evolved menstruation that we wouldn’t exist AT ALL? I don’t think any biologist would support that proposition. But don’t let science get in the way of a good feminist argument.

      • Other people also noted that you didn’t make any sense.

        Fact: given the way humans are constructed the only way you have babies is menstruation

        Fact: menstruation brings life

        Fact: Life is a good thing, so we should appreciate menstruation

        And life-loving peoples of the past — before patriarchy — did celebrate menstruation.

        Menstruation should not be a curse or something to be ashamed of. Menstruation brings life, so it is good.

        I’m not going to waste time with a lot of arguments that don’t make any sense. So if you come up with another comment similar to this one I won’t bother approving it.

        In the past you have brought up points that I have found helpful. Even though they were a critique of something I said. If you make a sensible critique I actually appreciate it.

    • Cats give birth to humans?

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