Lets talk about girl stuff. For all those men who just don't know fucking anything. #notallmen. Women already know this stuff. Because, d'uh. And we talk about it - well some of us do. My daughter informs me, with unreasonable glee, that she and her friends deliberately talk about 'girl stuff' in front of boys. Because fuck their discomfort. Why is it acceptable to make pre-cum jokes but the second you start talking about bleeding from your v'jay jay everyone turns green? Bite me.
Upshot: Photographer posted a provocative photograph of a woman lying in bed with a small blood stain on the bed and her pyjama pants. Holy shit, a photograph of something that happens to most women with some regularity. But it's "Yucky" so Instagram tore it down (twice) because people were squicked. (They have since apologised and replaced the content - so kudos for recognising they were W R O N G.) The link incidentally contains the full text of Rupi Kaur's response (the photographer) which is a thing of beauty.
If it had been a casual photo rather than a statement in itself I might have been more tolerant of the hordes of demented people who leaped up to tell everyone how disgusting they all thought it was - to my horror many of these people were fucking WOMEN. Because that's how insidious the attitude is - women who would happily tell their mates that 'holy shit I had a heavy period last month' are EMBARRASSED by a picture of a small leak on the internet. It's not even bloody them. And they were embarrassed on behalf of a chick they didn't know who had AGREED to be in the photo. I DON'T EVEN???????!!!!!!!
Women bleed regularly for a decent chunk of their lives. Deal with it. Perpetuating the species doesn't work without it. I'm not suggesting that we should all wander around bleeding on every available surface, but it would certainly be nice to lift the veil of dirty secrecy that has no reason to exist any more. We've grown beyond closeting our women away for a lonely bleeding party. It's not witchcraft any more. There are tampon commercials on TV. Do you even know how those work? I've certainly met more than a fair number of men who were only vaguely aware of the basics. It's caused some interesting issues. See as I'm telling some poor lad who hasn't run away sufficiently fast about the natural wonder that is, for me, 3 days of thick, bright red blood seeping from my hoo-hoo (what even is that term? VAGINA. UTERUS. LABIA.) often some woman would be walking past and would burst out with 3 DAYS YOU LUCKY BITCH! Then things would turn from bad to worse as we discussed whether my very heavy flow was worse or better than her light but 7 days flow. While the poor male tried to kill himself with whatever was to hand. My complete lack of cramps also causes much jealousy. I don't blame these women, they sound bloody awful (pun intended). Not to mention often debilitating. Now I'm inclined to think that talking to any random person about these things... PERIODS, we're talking about periods. is probably not necessary most of the time. But then there's all these times when it might be nice to be able to talk frankly about PERIODS. Not saying I have a headache so you can go home from work without squicking your boss. I HAVE AWFUL CRAMPS BECAUSE I AM BLEEDING LIKE A STUCK ELEPHANT. OK you don't actually need to do that, but I'm annoyed by this and very open to hyperbole. It would be nice to be able to tell your partner exactly why you're off your game tonight. Sorry honey, I'm having a particularly heavy period, maybe you could make me a cup of tea. Or, I had a cervical smear today, you know how awful those are.... and have him actually know how awful those are!!! (The mark of a great doctor is that he heats the fucking speculum first.)
For the uninitiated, the speculum (also know as the duck billed platypus) is a cold steel device, inserted into the VAGINA and cranked apart (I'm not joking) so that the doctor can reach a swab all up inside you to swab your cervix. Cervical Smear. It's at best not a joy filled experience, for some of us it's actively painful (pick me, pick me, pick me) I know women who face the reminder letter from the doctor with a sense of dread. I'm more a sense of resignation to my fate sort of girl. Too much cancer in la familia to not be sensible about it.
Here's a speculum for your edification.
Ben Elton, bless his comedic gold heart, does a number of routines around the subject of PERIODS. He's a big believer in the idea that men SHOULD know all the details. He admits that he knew less than nothing when he was a younger man. Less than nothing because much of what he 'knew' was assumption and invention. He knew women bled for some unspecified amount of time each month. Didn't have any idea what we did about it. He faintly knew that women had to have a regular smear test but not what was actually involved. And yet I can tell you exactly how a prostate exam goes. It's even been on HouseMD. Mind you they've also done pelvics on House, so kudos to them. No bleeding like a stuck elephant was mentioned, but girly parts were taken seriously. It's a start.
Ben envisages a world where men have the periods and sees it as a very different place. Where guys in pubs brag about which size of tampon they have to use, and periods days mandated holidays from work. Where leaving a blood spot on the seat is a subject of jocularity not shame. Because it's OK for men to talk about 'gross' bodily functions. They can tell us about the giant dump they just took and expect laughter rather than awkward silence. But can I laugh about the time the tampon string broke and I had to go fishing for that bastard? I can tell the girls - if we've already broached the subject in some way. Or if I have the awesome group of friends that I have. I am so very blessed in my social circle. Good people, with good hearts, and wide open minds. Mostly not due to chemical abuse. Show me the love people. I love you all, you know who you are.
Normal human function is compartmentalised for discussion, some of it is off limits but we talk about quite a lot of it without very much trouble at all. We all talk about sex like no ones business. Wanna know how to shut that down really fast? Mention period sex. BAM. Complete silence. But sex is not entirely off the table during menstruation. M E N S T R U A T I O N. It's messier and for some the idea is too off putting. For some it's pretty terrific. For a woman with low lubrication issues it can be the only not externally lubed sex she can have. And here's a kicker. Well here's a kicker for me, and a few other women I've talked to. I am as horny as all fuck when I'm on the rag. I will bang you six ways from Sunday if you're up for it. No I won't, I'm celibate, but I WOULD HAVE. Back in the day.
Things are improving. Go check out youtube, there are videos of teens talking about period advice. Young women are refusing to keep this in the cupboard. As we should have done when it was our turn. But we needed society to have taken a few steps further forward. And we had other battles to fight. And to give them their credit, there seem to be plenty of young men who are stepping up to improve things too. I find that my LGBT friends (the male ones, the women are already in this game) are far more willing to talk about Menstruation than most straight men. Maybe because they know what it is to have a subject that people don't want to talk about. They listen with the understanding of those who have not been listened to.
This subject has been way too long in the cupboard. It's a normal process. It may not be something you want me to discuss over dinner, but I should be able to bring it up without fear if I need to, or if I want to share some weird thing. We aren't afraid of it the way we were in the depths of time, or at least we don't have any reason to be. We've just allowed ourselves to believe that it's something icky that we should avoid mention of. It's all in our heads. Like the rest of our hang ups.