Periods should be normalized

Members+of+the+FHS+Register+pull+out+their+feminine+products+to+showcase+what+they+have+to+carry+around+as+a+precaution.++

Isabelle Suttle

Members of the FHS Register pull out their feminine products to showcase what they have to carry around as a precaution.

Avery Redfern, Reporter

Ask any person with a uterus and they’ll tell you that they’ve had a period related accident sometime in their life. Whether it’s leaking at school or having to cancel swimming plans because their period caught them by surprise, getting your period is often an embarrassing ordeal because society has made periods a taboo subject. People who have uteri can hardly bring up having a period without someone reacting with an awkward laugh or a joke — even if having a period is a natural bodily function. Periods should be normalized because contributing to the stigma around periods directly contradicts the notion that people who are able to menstruate are equal to those who don’t have periods.

Throughout the world, period-havers are taught from a young age that menstruation should be a secret practice. Rarely discussed in real-life and even more rarely discussed in media, menstruation is often considered inappropriate or even disgusting. This idea is supported by the lack of education surrounding this topic and taxes such as the pink tax, a “luxury tax” placed upon feminine hygiene products. This ideology and the absence of education of menstruators is a potential threat to the health and safety of those who menstruate.

In most schools, comprehensive sex education isn’t provided, and it certainly wouldn’t include the topic of menstruation even if was provided. The most a lot of girls get is a short, uninformative presentation congratulating them on the “growth of our bodies into women” in the seventh-grade. And while health classes are required at most high schools, topics like sexual education and periods are glossed over or not mentioned at all.

This topic avoidance of periods makes them almost seem like a secret for girls — and only girls — to know. As a result, teenage boys are notoriously awkward and afraid of the subject of menstruation. A fun game some girls enjoy playing is throwing tampons at boys and seeing their often hilarious and mortified reactions.

The “not all men” complex, in this case, applies to the situation perfectly. The male gender is notorious for pushing the subject of periods very neatly under the rug. But, at the same time, this “not all men” idea is relevant, where men who have been taught from a young age about menstruation have been normalized to the subject. The lack of education most men and teenage boys receive about menstruation creates this sort of “fear of the unknown,” which is similar to the fear of the dark or the ocean. They are not afraid of the subject itself but are afraid of what they do not know about the subject.

The stigma surrounding periods is, in a way, a circle. The fear menstruators have is often perpetuated by the female figures in their lives, who have been taught from a young age, by the female figures in their lives, that periods are something to be ashamed of. This is mostly from the supposed “unnaturality” of menstruation started long, long ago by primarily religious ideologies.

As far back as the Old Testament in the Bible, we see stories and laws condemning the naturality of periods. The Old Testament is filled with these stories: the books of Leviticus and Ezekiel mention periods a multitude of times in less than flattering ways, the human creation story of Adam and Eve cites periods as a punishment for Eve eating the apple, and so on. These stories, along with others, are just some of the root of the “periods are evil and terrible” beliefs.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Periods are little more than a natural bodily function to prepare the body for childbirth and should be treated as such. They shouldn’t be treated as if they are unnatural when menstruation is the body doing its job. The taboo factor is one perpetuated by fear and lack of education that all genders experience, though it’s experienced in different ways.

For those who do menstruate, this stigma harms both the mental and physical image of their bodies. When I first got my period, I didn’t tell anyone — not my friends, not my parents — for months. I lived in fear that my body was doing something wrong because all I had seen was mass media glorifying the process. Looking back at it now, I realize that this was extremely harmful to my mental state and potentially dangerous for my body should something have actually gone wrong.

This is just a mild case of the initial fear of menstruation; we see stories of uteri-havers hospitalized because of a number of period-related health issues that we aren’t educated about. In this case, the stigma isn’t simply an inconvenience — it could be the difference between literal life and death for some.

The lack of normalization of periods American society has has negatively affected everyone. It is dangerous for those who menstruate and is unfair to those who don’t. The bottom line is that for uteri-havers to be equal in the eyes of society, periods must be normalized.

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