“The strongest creature created by God in the world. Not the lion, not the elephant, not the tiger. The girl.”
I got my period on my 12th birthday, 20 years ago. It was irregular at first, making an appearance every 3 months. By the time I was in high school, it became very regular, cleansing me every month. I had a sleepover that 12th birthday, and I don’t remember feeling embarrassed with my friends at all… but I didn’t know what to do. It was discussed in my family beforehand and I knew about sanitary napkins and tampons. After the stories told to me as a child, I remember feeling happy I started my period at home. My mom and aunt would tell my cousin and I stories about how they started their periods… in public- some of the most embarrassing episodes they have experienced. My mom knew she started hers while on the slide at the park. She was going down the slide and came to a screeching halt(skrrrrrt!). Looking back she saw a trail of blood on the slide behind her. I spoke to her on the phone about this recently, and we both couldn’t stop laughing. My aunt(the other twin) was at school when she started her period. Wearing all white that day, she was called to go up to the chalkboard. When she arrived, kids started teasing as she was just beginning to find out why. There was a big red stain on her pants. So again, I am thankful for my boring ass story… at home… on my 12th birthday. There is no telling when code red would make its first hit. We are all nature- there is no timing of menstruation; it shows up when your body is ready. Could we please tell more stories about how women started their period? It’s all human and part of nature, but the comedy is in how it comes about with some people. We are missing stories about menstruation, the importance of why menstruation happens, the use of protective barriers(pads, tampons, etc,). The pain, the pressure, the shame, and the numerous taboos are not discussed fully around the world, like it is in some households. I can not say this enough, and so talking about sex and everything to do with it will always ease the stigma and lessen the shame. Talking about any challenge or discomfort provides a creative force to aid social progression and will always improve the functionality of more than one system(my theory). In approximately 26 minutes(beautifully done), ‘PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE.’ is a documentary told by the women in India as they fight for a more beneficial solution to their monthly cycles. The documentary tells stories from an unnamed rural area of India, unfolding a deeply painful struggle to create local economic success with the initiation of a feminist revolution.
“The daughter never talks to the mother, the wife never talks to the husband, friends don’t talk to each other, menstruation is the biggest taboo in my country.”
The film opens up with two girls giggling at the the idea of speaking about their period. They have questions for the interviewer but become extremely shy and then immediately revert to laughter instead. The film crew then speaks to a group of school children by asking them if anyone has started menstruating. It’s dead air until the teacher questions why no one is speaking up about their period. Eventually, a rush of hands raise to answer, and one girl stands. You can see and feel the girl struggle as she attempts to articulate the word ‘period.’ Her lips start to quiver, her head tilted down, and her eyes wide open looking up at the instructor. To her, the period is something to fear. I cried at this part because you can see the shame in every inaudible way. She proceeds to describe the period as a girls’ problem. I wanted to climb inside my computer and hug her, honestly. The shame continues as one woman finds it difficult to actually do her job because she’s having to constantly change a thin cloth and there’s no proper restroom within walking distance of her work. She admits to quitting her job after a year. The men(and some women) lack real knowledge because no one is speaking about it(to reclaim the shame), and so they are left with theories on what menstruation is in its totality. Some men called it an illness, joking and saying it marks an end of a class period when the bell rings, etc. or simply deflecting to something he can talk about comfortably and/or not at all. In addition to women physically, mentally, and emotionally being shamed… their spirits were(and still are) attacked. Women do not enter the temple when on their cycle, because they have been told that the Goddess they pray to does not answer their prayers while bleeding. After reaching the pits of shame in all major aspects of life, what do women in India do? They rise up and then they climbed fuckn mountains to reach the begining of sexual freedom. In all darkness, light always penetrates. Believe it!
“Women are the base of society and women are more powerful… but they do not recognize it-“
Despite the lack of dependable electricity, the women in India worked hard to ensure pads were created with help from locals. The pad was well researched in the community by men and women, and it was easily attainable. They created a brand, job opportunity, a tighter community and education among men and women involved with the project. The new- not so cute but highly functioning- pad was soaring with the name, FLY- inspiring women in India to rise above it all. I ugly cried to the man that stepped up and became curious about learning to make the pad, finding out everything he needed to know about the pad. Do you know how that will transpire for his family, for the people he is influencing in his community, and for the generations thereafter..? They will have gained insight, knowledge, and the overall stigma will be diluted. It was the the third time(OK- maybe more) that this film proved that it takes one person to build a wave in a revolution… changing the pattern to the way we think about women that have a sacred ability to menstruate.
Watching this film reminded me of Rupi Kaur (@rupikaur_) and the explosion she created on social media years ago (maybe 2013 ish) displaying an artistic post, taken down by Instagram for it being inappropriate. She is wearing pajamas, on her bed, laying horizontal and away from the camera, revealing a huge red blood stain visible on her pants … it was careless and freeing to see for me. Looking at her in her most natural state without hiding, just being. I said talking about any challenge or discomfort provides a creative force in our world to aid social progression and will always improve the functionality of more than one system… this film is that creative force and proves it from levels of mental health to levels of physical health improvement. The women in the community start to form circles to speak more openly about the pad and periods. There is a scene of a group of boys walking by and the women in the circle shout out something along the lines of, “This is for women only” and they giggle with excitement like they just kissed feminism.
What country is next and what else is the Pad Project doing now and next in their efforts to empower the period? What do you know about menstruation? How is it looked at in your community, in your own home? How can we be more compassionate with the womb(the part of women responsible for carrying new life)?