We need to talk about blood. We’re obsessed with it! Bad blood, blood feuds – we all sat through a science class learning about blood type. There are even some people who think it has healing qualities if you use it in skin care! When you see that deep red, you know someone’s in trouble… and yet, we still can’t talk about periods.
Women who got their periods in the old days got a tough wrap. They didn’t have the Sass + Co. body scrub that we have to lush out with we’re feeling it’s time for self love, (although I’m sure they had their own thing going on). On top of that, the Romans used to think women on their periods were some kind of evil witch. Isolation from men was the only solution. You probably know, women have been blamed through the centuries for so many things it’s hard to keep track. Pre-marital sex, bastard children and, according to Roman writers, our periods killed the bees! I guess I can add ‘bad bee keeper’ to my list of hobbies.
But, is it so much better now? I mean, medical ‘experts’ didn’t even know women’s menstruation was tied to fertility and ovulation until the 19th century! We’ve come a long way, but it seems to me that women are still blamed for non-consensual sex (slut shaming seems to be a remnant of women blaming practices) so it’s reasonable to suggest that period stigma hasn’t come as far as we’d hope either.
There is still so much mis-information about periods. I think it comes from the idea that sex education is a ‘family matter’ that needs to be dealt with in the home. Somehow, women’s bodies are seen as less of a medical issue and more of a sexual issue. One of the great woman philosophers of our time Simone Irigiray suggested that women are conceptualised as sexual being’s and thus can never be separated from their sexuality in society. So, while men’s bodies are studied and understood more and more by the day, women are confined to the private sphere, with varying levels of understanding based entirely on what family you are born into.
Unfortunately, this has led to some women thinking crazy things about sex and their own body. The ‘menstrual calendar’ as an accurate form of birth control is a classic one. Yes, your period is tied to your fertility. No, you cannot guarantee that you won’t get pregnant if you only have sex on certain days of the month. Another golden oldie is the idea that you shouldn’t skip your period when you’re on the contraceptive pill. Not a true fact, friend. The medical system is pretty biased towards women. If you’re doctor told you this, it’s because the guy who invented the pill decided it was more ‘natural’ for women to get their periods. The biggest scam of all time! If you want to have a natural cycle, that’s great – but, like all other things, it’s your choice.
Did you know that women’s pain is statistically more likely to be ignored or downplayed by medical professionals? Did you know that doctors used to believe women got periods to calm their hysterical nature? Did you know that endometriosis cures do not exist even though it effects 1 in 10 of all women with a uterus? There is also no understood cause.
The medical system does not understand women and thus, society does not understand women. There are so many horror stories of women fighting to have their pain recognised as more than just hysterical dramatics. Have you ever thought about how crazy it is that endometriosis is one of the most painful health problems possible yet since its housed under ‘period pain’ there is no recourse to deal with it in day-to-day life? Imagine trying to call in sick to work for cramps. Even though period pain is often accompanied by fainting, fatigue and severe headaches. All of which would be a completely valid sick reason in a man… but because it happens regularly to women, nothing.
It’s not like women are blamed for killing the bees anymore, but it’s still a taboo topic. We shoulder more subtle, harder realities when were ‘on the rag’. The period tax is a big one. A tampon as a luxury item? Please. I didn’t realise stigmatization, misinformation, pain and suffering were a luxury. Next time a dude asks me out on a date I’ll just tell him I’m busy living a life of luxury. Come back later.
There are some great alternatives now, like menstrual cups and period proof underwear. They’re better for the environment and not as harsh on your body. Yet… the period stigma still stands. I think about this all the time when I’m sitting in the bath using Sass + Co. Body’s delish scrub and moisturiser. I feel as though it’s as if my body and its natural ways are something to be hidden or secret. I thank the lord that there are women out there like our fearless skincare + health (and party) leader, Colette. Hopefully, when the next generation of girls grow up, we’ll be able to see their cramps and periods for what they are. Normal.
**We would like to make note of the awesome alternative practitioners and teachers who recognise that due to an out-of-whack progesterone and oestrogen ration your periods may present as painful and/or cause heavy bleeding. Homeopathy and Naturopathy recognise this as not necessarily ‘normal’, although very common and can offer sound nutritional and life style advice that may assist. Don’t be afraid to seek necessary advice.