Every few weeks small Twitter wars erupt with one side declaring women need to keep their period and menstrual cycle details to themselves and the other describing their periods and cycles in vivid, colourful detail. Here’s why women are talking about their periods online, why it matters and why more of us should join them.
Shame and the menstrual concealment imperative
There’s so much shame linked to the female body and menstruation is part of it. There’s so much shame around menstruation that talking about, talking about this natural process is taboo. Women feel dirty, disgusting, unattractive, unclean. This culture of silence has been studied and named, the menstrual concealment imperative.
Talking openly about it shines a light on this shame and dispels it, leaving freedom. Freedom from shame. Talking about it is a form of resistance. No more accepting society’s muzzle.
Suffer in silence
We live in a society that often shames people for speaking up, just look at what happens to the people who speak up about abuse. We’re often too concerned about outward markers of peace instead of peace itself. Well, women are not at peace, and they are no longer going to suffer in silence. If they’re suffering, they’ve decided, everyone’s going to know about it. Everyone’s going to suffer too. They will not be ignored and will not allow society to proceed as though nothing’s happening to them.
As one woman aptly put it, “You think I’m gonna endure two weeks of discomfort before the actual bleeding and suffering BY MYSELF?! We’re all gonna be uncomfortable bestie, buckle-up!”
We need more of this. There’s nothing honourable about being stoic and suffering in silence.
Part of what’s great about openly talking about their periods is it creates community, providing much-needed support. Not talking about is very isolating, so all you know about is your period. When people open up and talk, you learn about what’s going on with other people, you find out that maybe you’re not weird, that what’s happening to you is happening to other people as well. You’re no longer alone.
These communities are where women share personal stories, where they commiserate with and encourage each other. This is where women laugh about the inconvenience and pain in the ass that is periods with people who get it. These communities must be guarded, supported, and enlarged.
There’s so much learning happening when people talk about their periods and the menstrual cycles. This is how many people learnt that the COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on the menstrual cycle of some people. Someone talked about how they learnt about sharp ovulation pains through people talking about their cycles. This is how people learn about how other people handle heavy painful periods from medication to birth control choices and more. Talking about it lets people know what is and isn’t normal and it’s no exaggeration to say that it can save lives.
It’s not just a great resource for women to learn but it also forces other people who have never experienced periods and know nothing about the menstrual cycle to learn to. They are forced to see it, to hear about it. They hear about how painful and disruptive periods are. How the menstrual cycle is so much more than your period and what a big impact it has on your physical, mental, and emotional state. Those who care about women, learn a thing or two and treat the women they know differently. Those who don’t care about women still get the information anyway. They have no excuse. They see all the ways that society fails women from forcing women to work through their period to the compounding cost of sanitary products and more. No more saying you didn’t know.
Talking about your menstrual cycle in defiance when you’ve been told not to is fun. It’s plain fun and people are funny. Finding something funny about an experience that ranges from an inconvenience to insanely painful is a win. Let’s keep talking about our periods, there’s no downside to it.