June 3, 2010

Young Women Speak Out About "The Curse"

I didn’t celebrate my first period my drinking bottles red wine with the women in my family, wine purchased on the day of my birth in anticipation of this rite of passage. I didn’t call my friends giggling to share the wonderful news. There was no fanfare of any kind. In fact, there was nothing but fear and shame. I kept silent and stuffed my panties with layers of toilet paper that would peak to a v and eventually shred to bits. When”outed” by my mother, I fiercely denied the truth while simultaneously wishing that I would tell her the truth and get some maternal support (and a box of pads). Sensing my reluctance and discomfort, my mother bought a box of pads and left it under the bathroom sink. This silent delivery of bulky, winged pads continued in silence for years. The absence of celebration and generational bonding leaves me with a small hole in my heart. The shame I felt about my maturing body and the cultural messages that equate the vagina and menstruation with a noxious cesspool robbed me of an opportunity to love my body and its unique life-giving properties.

Examining representations of the female body within pop culture would not be complete without a critical examination of sociohistorical attitudes toward menstruation. After all, the advertising industry is replete with messages that reinforce ancient notions that menstruation is a cringe-worthy, filthy subject. How can a girl love herself completely when she has been raised in an environment that sees the female body as dirty? Shameful? How different would we feel about ourselves if our first period was met with revelry and joy?

For a recent blogging assignment in my Women and Pop Culture class, my students discussed their experiences with their cycle while referencing Red Moon: Menstruation, Culture and the Politics of Gender and The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls. What follows is a collection of posts that provides an insightful glimpse into young women’s attitudes about “the curse.”

By: Laylee S, post in full and originally titled “I Love my Period”

It’s true. I completely and totally love my period and I have since the day it started. When I read books like Brumberg’s The Body Project or watch films like Red Moon that reveal the way menstruation has been devalued and disparaged in our culture, I can’t help but feel upset that more women don’t feel the same positive connection I feel with my period and thus my body.

“It’s a terrible disease” — “It’s disgusting and spreads filth around” — “It’s a sin of the devil”

These are all attitudes expressed by interviewees in Red Moon toward menstruation. Beliefs such as these are unfortunately widespread in our society. From the time we are very young, we hear our periods–a monthly reminder of our awe-inspiring life-giving power–referred to as a “curse” and a nightmare. In movies such as Superbad our periods are used for laughs because “Oh my god, there’s nothing more disgusting than period blood!” In polite company we are instructed from the onset of puberty to never ever mention our monthly cycles, especially if there are men present. Young women absorb these messages about the taboo of menstruation and all too often hold onto these negative attitudes until late in life.

Why do so many women admit that if given the opportunity they would gladly do away with their periods altogether? Cramps cannot be entirely to blame. The social stigma attached to menstruation weighs in heavily in forming women’s feelings about their own periods. How could they not? Women are still considered unfit for certain activities and occupations because of their monthly cycles. During the 2008 election, did anyone else hear men argue that Hillary Clinton couldn’t be an effective world leader because once a month she’d be thrown into the irrational, weepy, bitchy and hysterical throes of her period? I certainly did. How satisfying it was to learn that studies have shown that men’s moods are just as variable throughout the month as women’s! Arguments like this have been used against women entering male-dominated spaces for centuries—from the Victorian belief that women could not enter higher education because education would divert precious blood that should be going to their uteri to the claim that women could not work outside of the home. In our everyday lives, our periods are also used as an excuse to dismiss our arguments and emotions with the all-too-familiar refrain of “oh, she’s just PMSing.” This habit of brushing women aside because of our supposed PMS is reflected in countless television shows and movies.

As Brumberg’s chapter “The Body’s New Timetable” demonstrates, from Victorian to contemporary times, so many young girls are not prepared for their periods when they finally arrive because menstruation has been considered too taboo to discuss. Brumberg mentions young girls after the Civil War taking the onset of their periods to be a sign of hemmoraging, a story I’ve actually heard more than once amongst my peers. This cultural silence surrounding one of the most natural bodily processes women deal with in their lives speaks volumes about the way women and women’s bodies are valued in our society.

We have disconnected ourselves from our bodies so thoroughly that most women don’t fully understand the way their periods work, especially if they’re on birth control. More than anything else, using a Diva Cup has reunited me with my body. It’s allowed me to bridge that gap that we’ve been encouraged to create between our bodies and our selves. Before I started using menstrual cups, I had no idea how much I bled each day, how the flow changed, how its consistency changed, all of that. I had a vague idea I suppose but I never felt comfortable and familiar with my period the way I do now. I won’t get too graphic for the squeamish out there (even the fact that I have to say this and censor myself is indicative of the problematic relationship we as a society have with women’s periods!) but now that I use a menstrual cup I’m able to see how much I bleed, which days I bleed more, what changes accompany my cramps (if there’s more or less blood, if the consistency of the blood changes, etc), and so much more. Our periods don’t have to be something we’re grossed out by, or bothered by (in the absence of cramps, extra sensitivity and whatnot). Just talking about my love for my Diva Cup has brought so many negative attitudes towards women’s periods out of the woodwork. Grown women have been completely grossed out that you have to –gasp—touch yourself “down there” and potentially risk touching your own blood in order to use a menstrual cup. I’m talking about grown women who have been menstruating for 20 years of their lives! My period is a beautiful thing that reminds me each month that (hooray!) I am not yet pregnant and (double hooray!) my healthy body is capable of creating a living, breathing human being. I for one think it should be respected as such.

*A note about the image used: it contains a quote from one of my favorite essays ever. In 1978, Gloria Steinem penned an excellent piece of satire aimed at illuminating the way menstruation is demonized in our society. I’ve linked to it before on our class blog and I’ll link to it again because I think every person out there should read it: If Men Could Menstruate.

By Alexa G, post in full and originally titled “The Tide Turns Red”

After reading through Brumberg’s The Body Project and watching Red Moon, it seems like the way we view menstruation really hasn’t changed that much.

I’m not here to deny that we haven’t moved on since the Victorian era. In fact, I’m really glad we have for so many reasons, but our attitude towards menstruation still seems a little archaic to me. It’s no longer commonplace to deny young women certain foods to keep periods away or deny us higher education based off of the idea that our complicated bodies will be “drained” from thinking too much. And we’ve moved pass these ideas- hip hip hooray! But while we are now able to consume meat and go to college, bringing up the topic and talking about our periods is still taboo and hush-hush.

Watching the men interviewed in Red Moon only confirms how much negativity is associated with monthly bleeding. None of the men featured were excited or even looked slightly comfortable talking about menstruation. The way they talked about it was slightly similar to how men back in the the 19th century did: it’s icky, it’s a sign of emotional and physical weakness andiwantnothingtodowithit. You would think that because so many men had spent so much time picking apart the subject that they would at least be slightly more comfortable with it by now.

Another thing that really struck me of how much hasn’t changed is how detached we are from our menstrual cycles. I’m not suggesting that we have fertility festivals and should run around meadows to celebrate our periods. (But if you want to do that, you are more than welcome to) But instead of straight talking the facts, we seem to walk around them. To do this today we still have “sanitary napkin” dispensers in bathrooms. Regardless of gender or age, Red Moon showed how uncomfortable we are with our own biology.

Advertising tells us that our periods are never a good thing- instead, they’re all about discomfort and physical pain. And when we see women on TV talking about their periods it seems to often be about just how crazy their hormones are making them that day! The media and advertisers aren’t very interested in letting us feel like our periods are a normal part of life. Instead, they are something to be feared and ashamed of.

Just from my own observations and experiences, I can see why so many women and girls feel so uncomfortable with menstruation. When the images you see and hear on TV or magazines related to periods always being a horrible experience it’s hard to stay positive. And since we don’t really talk openly about menstruation in general, it’s hard to bring it up without being awkward. Even my most open-minded and chatty female friends get uneasy talking about our bodies. And my guy friends? I think my ex-boyfriend’s feelings on periods summarizes how most of the guys I know think: “That is SO DISGUSTING”

By: Marley P, post in full and originally titled “Menstruation-Friend or Foe?”

I really appreciated Red Moon: Menstruation, Culture and the Politics of Gender because it illuminated the superficial relationship between menstruation and society and more importantly, the relationship between menstruation and women.  I found it incredibly interesting that there have been studies done to show the differences in mood variation between the sexes and that both the men and women’s moods varied just about the same yet women perhaps were able to predict their cycles.  The disconnection to our bodies becomes increasingly popular as it becomes easier to regard your body as something to control and manipulate rather than to trust that your bodies knows what to do and exactly how to do it. In a culture where the only talk of a period is through tampon commercials that make a mockery of women, we need more movies that aren’t willing to break the mold in talking about menstruation, or at least give women the proper tools and education to make healthy choices.  I have to wonder, if at all times 25% of the female population is menstruating, isn’t it about time to decriminalize it? Even though menstruation is a natural biological process that all females go through, it has become a main source of stress and discomfort and we have lost the connection to ourselves and our bodies.  Essentially making women shameful of their bodies is an extremely detrimental tactic to keep consumers buying and really does nothing but a great disservice to women of all ages. What does this say about our culture that a symbol of womanhood is perceived as something so dirty?

Growing up in a household in which reproductive health and justice were encouraged and openly talked about, I was always very aware of my body.  It’s pretty hard to ignore your body when like clockwork every month you are subjected to severe menstrual cramps but I have been able to look at them as a reminder every month that my body is well and working.    Nobody likes their period but I have never once wished I didn’t get my period  or wished I was a man.  “Diagnosing PMS” has become a way to belittle women or prove that they are somehow less efficient than a man because they are menstruating and it is a dangerous notion that affects the physical and emotional health of all women regardless of age (not to mention gives men an undeniable degree of entitlement and superiority).

In the Body Project, Joan Brumberg deconstructs our country’s “ovulatory revolution” and  explains:

Although girls now mature sexually earlier than ever before, contemporary American society provides fewer social protections for them, a situation that leaves them unsupported in their development and extremely vulnerable to the excesses of popular culture and to pressure from peer groups.

Brumberg analyzes the changes in the sociohistorical landscape of our country that surrounds young women from the Victorian era to present. As the young girls of today have a much different biological and social timetable than the girls from previous eras, we are experiencing a new shift of attitudes surrounding one’s menstrual cycle.  The hypersexualization of our youth and the overall acceptance of a phrase like “sex sells” in our daily lives is helping to lead to two very serious concerns a) girls are menstruating earlier than previous generations and b) are simultaneously not becoming more emotionally and cognitively ready to deal with these changes (i.e. becoming sexually active sooner and without the mental preparedness to deal).

The patriarchal framework of our society normalizes a message very early on that women are never to talk about their periods because the dominant culture does not want to hear it, it has become a shameful ‘downfall’ to the female body.  I always felt very comfortable talking about menstuation and safe sex because I was aware that they were natural aspects to being a healthy female  but that doesn’t mean that I am immune to the ceaseless images and judgments.  Until very recently have I become aware of the extent to my own innate body bashing and the fact that I am unhappy with the first comment I have about myself is usually a negative one.  W certainly don’t need our society attaching judgment to every move we make or every morning we decide to not put on make up.  Our value and worth should not be based on our skin.

By: Carolyn B, post in full and originally titled “Uncursing ‘The Curse'”

It’s a damn shame that a fretful and despotic patriarchy has robbed womankind of the chance to harness the guttural and sacred power of their moon cycle to evoke power and transformation. Be it by hook, crook, depro-provera or deoderized douche, these men were scared silly by the sacred sorcery of the womb and tried to stifle its innate ecstatic capabilities. The patriarchy has spent the last 2000 years convincing women that life sprang from Adam’s rib, and that  your vagina is merely a vessel for pain, shame, stench and vulnerability. Throwing brevity out the window, I could wax on indefinitely about the loss of the sacred feminine and quote Terence McKenna for miles on suppression of shamanistic ecstasy and the rise of patriarchal hegemony, but I’ll let you fall down that rabbit hole on your own accord and stick with the meat and potatoes.

The film Red Moon: Menstruation, Culture and the Politics of Gender and Joan Jacobs Brumberg’s The Body Project examine the de-evolution of menstruation, showing how the male-dominated realms of Western religion and medicine dictate biological normatives, shaping our perceptions of ourselves and propagating fanciful myths about our biology. Red Moon‘s narrator reminds us that “80% of women suffer either physically or psychologically during menstruation and 150 different symptoms are attributed to PMS. In other words, at this very moment, millions of women on earth are unhappy and yet the silence is deafening.” Who hasn’t heard one or many illusory adages that bleeding makes you more susceptible to infection, less able to perform well in college or the workplace, and that the myriad moods of a cycling woman makes her unfit for a demanding career? Women have been taught to believe that blood obscures our capacity to think clearly, while the actual truth is that activity in both the limbic and endocrine systems are at their peak during menstruation, engaging the neurons, endorphins and neurotransmitters of the nervous system unlike any other time during a woman’s cycle. Bleeding also eliminates excess iron from the body, and in non-anemic women this can be of great benefit, preventing excess oxidation in the internal environment which is said to slow the aging process.

In typical patriarchal fashion, the so called anecdote for our wily, ‘rogue’ biology is to control its unpredictability through exogenous hormones and surgical procedures. The sad truth of the matter is that these procedures often shut down your body’s innate intelligence, obliterating a hormonal cascade that is responsible for so much more than your ‘monthly curse.’ Through unification of body and mind- achieved with practices like yoga, meditation, qi gong, tantra and dance-women can cultivate attention and sensation in the darker recesses of their sexual matter and reach a place of connectedness with their biology. These practices set free the so called ‘headache in the pelvis,’ obliterating menstrual cramps and hormonal pathologies for good (take it from me, sisters! I waved good bye to Motrin and the Pill long ago!). In buddhism, that which we give attention to ceases to plague us. Unfortunately for the powers that be, acquainting women with their biological processes in a way that is both healing and empowering would mean a vast decline in the sales of products targeted to rid us of that ‘not so fresh feeling.’ If we stand up and re-examine our notions of freshness, the scent of blood will no longer mean the scent of death, and it can reclaim its fragrance of power, peace and mystery.

By: Rachel O, post in full

In Red Moon and The Body Project, the issue of the repression and shame with menstruation is addressed.  Women’s reproductive organs were a mystery for a long time to the medical world.  Early on, doctors believed that hysteria was due to a woman’s uterus roaming through her body, as though it wasn’t attached to anything and was able to float around freely.  So it was no surprise that doctors were baffled by menstruation.  It was used as an excuse to repress women and promote racism.  Women were kept out of the world of academia, as doctors wrote, “developing girls…were…damaged by any educational challenge that drew energy to the brain and away from the ovaries.”  To make racism acceptable, doctors studied the menstrual cycles of women in Africa and the Middle East, the girls there menstruated early, taken as a sign of people who were “…more primitive and precocious.”  Of course as a symptom of women not being allowed to pursue higher education, there were virtually no female doctors to challenge these outrageous findings, and so the ignorance of the men reigned as fact.  As shown in the film Red Moon, some doctors today still hold these ridiculous Victorian ideas about women – one doctor compares menstruation to the work of the devil.

While many people look at old advertisements as silly in the vague wording, where you can barely tell the ad is for menstrual products, some of that still holds true today.  A new ad campaign for Tampax hails their brand as the best solution for “Mother Nature’s monthly gift.”  After a new set of Kotex ads came out, the public learned that advertisers are not allowed to say the word “vagina” and shouldn’t even allude to the area even by referring to it as “down there.”  Even in the most liberal, outgoing, honest families, starting menstruation can feel shameful.  I never had a reason to feel embarrassed about my period, but it wasn’t until I was 19 that I finally felt comfortable buying my “feminine hygiene” products on my own.  With the exception of the U by Kotex ad campaign, which is challenging the ridiculous advertising for these products, most companies are still as vague as they were 30 years ago.  I think this is a great example of how, even when women break through a barrier or tool of oppression, it doesn’t erase it entirely.  As plenty of things in current day culture show us, that “outrageous” Victorian era thinking still holds true for some.

By: Alejandra L, post in full and originally titled “Our Body is a Battleground”

Womyn’s bodies are literally a battlefield, the most common enemy is menstruation. It hardly openly talked about and, honestly, I was surprised to know there was a history to menstruation. Womyn’s bodies have evolved through time to adapt to the changing needs and lifespans of the time period. At the turn of the century, girls menstruated later, typically at 15 or 16. Girls in the Victorian era, were a lot smaller and less healthy than girls today. Greater physical health resulted in the female body developing earlier. However, this did not correlate with greater emotional or cognitive development to be able to deal maturely or effectively with menstruation.(Brumberg,5) Furthermore, there is less societal help, nowadays to help young womyn make up for this developmental gap. It was very common for young womyn in the Victorian Era to be involved in extra curricular groups such as the Girl Scouts, bible groups, or the YWCA, where there were older womyn who acted as mentors, or almost older sisters for these young girls in a very difficult period of their lives. Of course, often those in professional groups such as these, came from middle class or upper middle class status, but, nonetheless, there was a belief throughout the Victorian era, whether you were poor or rich, black or white, that “older womyn had a responsibility to the younger of their sex”. They were mentors, not old enough to be their mothers but old enough to have experience and create a sense of community and support among womyn. However, this is not to say that everything was fine and dandy in the Victorian Era. Menstruation was the study and analysis of patriarchal doctors and institutions who were literally waging a war against it. Doctors such as Dr. Edward Clarke (of the highly regarded Harvard Medical School), made a case for “ovarian determinism” (Brumberg, p8) arguing against higher education for womyn claiming that because of their periods, womyn were incapable of highly intellectual activity. His argument was that once a month womyn had to dedicate all time and thought to their “periodicity” and therefore, could not focus on any “educational challenge that drew energy to the brain and away from the ovaries”. Womyn were, not just expected, but their purpose was to give birth. Their sole role in the Victorian era was reproduction. Yet at the same time, menarche, the very indication of  possible childbearing years, was regarded as something unclean and instead indicated moral quality and virtue. The first menstruation marked the loss of innocence and indicated the hyper protection of a young womyn’s sexuality, body and mind.

Although, we have progressed from the belief that menstruation impedes on the intellectual capability of womyn, there are still some practices that we, as a society, continue to be Victorian about. Menstruation is hardly talked about, and when it is, it is given some type of nickname like “time of the month”, or “aunt flo”. It continues to be seen as something unclean and gross to be dreaded as each month passes. I can remember when I was in elementary school, not wanting to talk about it and  absolutely not looking forward to the first time it happened. Whenever menstruation was talked about, it was always negative. However, it is important to keep in mind that, as we learned in the film, 80% of womyn do suffer during menstruation. It is something painful for a lot of us. Honestly, up until recently I have hated my period. I hated the blood, the pads and tampons, the having to hid to the world that  I was on my period, the cramps and the 5 days it robbed from me every month. After,  I stopped hating my period, I simply felt indifferent about it. That is a lot better that hate, but I’ve come to realize it doesn’t acknowledge it. As I reflect on the film and the reading, I can’t say I’m absolutely in love with my period but I am looking at it in a different light. Menstruation is something natural. It signifies fertility and child bearing, but it doesn’t reduce me to simply a reproductive machine (as it did in the Victorian Era). Patriarchal institutions and misogynistic ads and media are waging a war for me to hate my body. They create pills to “put our bodies on track” or to reduce our periods altogether to twice a year, and create pads with ultra quiet wrappers because god forbid somebody know “its that time of the month.” This type of mentality, creates shame for womyn for something absolutely biological and natural. It perpetuates and implies that womyn’s bodies are deviant and need to be regulated. We live in a patriarchal, binary society where everything is divided into male or female, heterosexual or homosexual, black or white, good or evil. “Reason” and “science” are the ultimate truths, but the female body does not fight into these tight little boxes. There is nothing rational or linear about bodies. They do not fit into the same biological clock as men. These messages imply that you can get all the plastic surgery to try to perfect your “womanness”, you can be on diets, get the latest fashion, dye your hair, but you are still a womyn. Though I cannot say that the time when I get my period is my favorite time of the month (maybe someday it will be, I don’t know), I know I cannot let these message win this battle. I will not let them hate me being a womyn.

By: Chanel M, post in full and originally titled “Mother Nature’s Gift”
Of course it goes without saying that the word “period,” or “menstruation” comes hand in hand with feelings of anxiety. Most men and women get uncomfortable when hearing or when asked to talk about the “curse,” just as seen in the film Red Moon. Even though this is something that we all know from experience, it seems to surprise me time and time again, especially after watching the film last week. Even middle-aged men grew uncomfortable when hearing the word menstruation. I was strangely surprised to hear the same nervous giggles that I’d expect from a 12 year-old boy. Even worse was the information I learned from Brumberg’s “The Body Project.” It was disturbing to hear that mothers would control the lifestyle of their daughters in order to prevent the early arrival of their periods. It was seen as impure for a girl to begin menstruating thus measures were taken in order to prevent it as long as possible. These same mothers were once in their daughter’s shoes, and yet it seems to me that it was so natural to act in ways that they themselves would have hated when they were young.

I identified a lot with the young girl in Red Moon because she reminded me of how young I really was when I first got my period. When I was in 5th grade I remember hearing about the special privileges the first girls who had gotten her period would get. They were allowed to leave the room without raising their hands, and when they were on their period they would work on their own schedule simply because changing a pad was taught to be so embarrassing. It was such an enormous secret for a girl to have her period. So much so that all of the girls were utterly terrified for that very moment when Mother Nature would strike with her monthly gift. It was such a stressful ordeal in order to transfer the pads from our backpacks into our pockets; so undercover that we might as well have been smuggling drugs. As Brumberg stated, “our society makes no effort to help girls deal with the lag between their biological and their intellectual development.” Because of this, very young girls end up learning from each other, often a faulty way, and are left lost and embarrassed and unable to openly discuss the sensitive topic with others.

My first experiences with the different reactions towards periods slowly came as I grew older into my middle school years. Watching different mother daughter relationships across cultures with regards to menstruation was something very foreign to me. Within my own Persian culture, mothers were overjoyed at the news that their daughters had hit that mark and started menstruating. Showered with gifts galore, many of my friends grew angry and even more embarrassed, thus many girls developed somewhat of a trust issue with their own mothers. We simply didn’t understand why it had to be such a celebration. I know for myself, I just wanted to keep it to myself, only telling my mom so that she can provide me with the proper materials to take care of things. Other families who were of American descent were more casual about the ascent into womanhood. I remember wishing my family were the same, hoping that they would keep the information hush hush like their daughters requested. The moment I got my period I became highly overdramatic. I remember feeling like I was ill with some sort of incurable virus that didn’t allow me to leave my bedroom, and even though I was so young, I have to say it was because I truly believed that is what I was supposed to feel. Pop culture’s portrayal of menstruation was extremely influential on my own perspective of first time menstruation. Being told all the things I would crave, all the things I would feel, and all the ways I would act during my period through shows like the animated version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch really turned into a reality as I unconsciously mimicked those actions. Clearly this didn’t do me any good since the next few months looked very similar to the ones before where I would camp out in my bedroom, and wear layers upon layers in order to make sure no one was able to notice that I was on my period. And yet again, I must thank pop culture for this.



  1. Great articles. Ever noticed how every article we read in media on menstruation, starts with the negative (patriarchal) history before moving into the empowering herstory ? Martina/.

    Comment by Martina — June 4, 2010 @ 3:32 am

  2. […] motivation and hard work. For more posts related to this class, see Body Image: A Personal Story, Young Women Speak Out About “The Curse,” Violence Against Women: The Clothesline Project Video, Student Activism Breaks the Silence Around […]

    Pingback by Feminist Fatale » This is What a Real Woman Looks Like — June 8, 2010 @ 7:23 am

  3. […] “More than anything else, using a Diva Cup has reunited me with my body. It’s allowed me to bridge that gap that we’ve been encouraged to create between our bodies and our selves. Before I started using menstrual cups, I had no idea how much I bled each day, how the flow changed, how its consistency changed, all of that. I had a vague idea I suppose but I never felt comfortable and familiar with my period the way I do now. I won’t get too graphic for the squeamish out there (even the fact that I have to say this and censor myself is indicative of the problematic relationship we as a society have with women’s periods!) but now that I use a menstrual cup I’m able to see how much I bleed, which days I bleed more, what changes accompany my cramps (if there’s more or less blood, if the consistency of the blood changes, etc), and so much more.” Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Great Menstrual Cup Adventure This entry was posted in Menstruation Products and tagged menstrual cups, sanitary products. Bookmark the permalink. ← My problems with tampons […]

    Pingback by Menstrual Cups | My Period Blog — October 8, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

  4. Those were very interesting articles, maybe because of the fact that I am male? Regardless, it is a subject that parents have to discussed about with their young daughters (if they any). I can’t say I have “preiods.” However, it is something that the female body undergoes when it is developing. Nothing about it should be gross. Nothing about should be seen as evil. I can imagine it may feel horrible, with all the mentioned physical effects that come along with it, but that is biolgy. “My period is a beautiful thing that reminds me each month that (hooray!) I am not yet pregnant and (double hooray!) my healthy body is capable of creating a living, breathing human being” is the correct attitude a woman should have about her body. There should be no negative stigmas attached to “periods” for women. It is natural.

    Comment by David Ruano — October 15, 2010 @ 11:15 pm

  5. These are some great and very well written articles. These are very interesting article, maybe becuase I am a male and I have not been introduced to these things. It is also interesting that every article that me read about these types of topics is seen with a negative view. This is a subject that parents and their daughter should sit down and have a civilized talk about, becuase it is something that everyfemale goes through when there are developing. This topic should not be looked at in a negative light becuase it is natural.

    Comment by Joshua.S — October 17, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

  6. I wish that I could have such a loving attitude towards my menstruation! Unfortunately, I am one of an estimated 6 million women in the US who has painful endometriosis. It’s like going through 5 days of childbirth every month in addition to a couple of mid-cycle cramp days. Sex is painful too, btw. I suffer from it and I do not wish to collect and examine the products of my menstrual flow in a cup. I think it’s great to try and change negative attitudes towards menstruation but I hope attitudes towards women’s pain changes as well. Too many of us are suffering needlessly because of the attitude that severe cramps or pelvic pain is “normal” or “natural”.

    Comment by MJ — March 2, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

  7. Just sharing, I hate it when guys say this…”Never trust anything that bleeds for seven days and doesn’t die,” the sad part is it’s not even funny. And whoever says that misogynistic is an idiot, period. – Leora S.

    Comment by Leora Sheily — April 17, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  8. I love the articles that were attached. When I got my period when I was 13 I was so angry I didn’t tell my mom. Obviously, I had to and she was extremely supportive…but it is sad that I had been socialized so early to be ashamed and disgusted by a biological function that essentially creates life. I don’t enjoy getting my period, but it is a great feeling to know that my body is healthy and when I am ready I will be able to produce a child.

    And unfortunately, I’ve definitely had experiences with guys who were completely disgusted that I was on my period because that meant they couldn’t do anything sexual with me…making me feel like I have to apologize for something that I cannot control is absolutely ridiculous.

    Comment by Danielle G. — April 19, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

  9. May orthodox Jews believe that when married woman are on their period, they must sleep apart from their husbands. This is obviously saying something about how the female menstrual cycle is viewed as dirty and shameful. Not only Jewish people, but society in general views menstrual cycles as dirty, gross, unspeakable. That our bodies are able to create life is something to celebrate, and a female’s cycle is an indicator and reminder this “gift.”

    Comment by Tiffany Majdipour — October 25, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

  10. I wish the first time I got my period was celebrated with cupcakes and proud smiles — but it wasn’t. I didn’t tell anyone for months. Then I later bought a diva cup and this is definitely when I faced bleeding and actually enjoying it. I’m so shocked that whenever I show/talk about it to my friends they’re instantly grossed out and don’t understand how I can touch myself never mind actually have to look at it. Are we that out of touch with our own bodies and the awesomeness it’s capable of? Then I read the book “Cunt” by Inga Muscio and I fell in love with bleeding. I fell in love with my body. The “disgust” that is so heavily taught and associated with it only serves to detach us from ourselves.

    Comment by Biana Bitman — October 25, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  11. Once again, we see that something naturally is seen as something disgusting and turned into something we should feel ashamed of. I for one know that if I had more knowledge about the subject I would not feel ashamed to talk about it today and I would have absolutely felt more ready and prepared when i got my first period. I am very thankful that these women shared their thoughts and stories. Also, I would like to pick out a quote from this piece, “My period is a beautiful thing that reminds me each month that (hooray!) I am not yet pregnant and (double hooray!) my healthy body is capable of creating a living, breathing human being. I for one think it should be respected as such.” and mention that I have never even thought about it like that and see now that it makes sense and is very, very true. Thank you for making me see the positive side of something that is seen so negative.

    Comment by Tandis Shams Fard — November 7, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  12. Frankly, I believe that the period only brings women closer to each other in the restroom. It is something women and only women can relate to with one another. Whenever the pad machine would refuse to dispense a liner, I would ask another woman for a spare pad (I absolutely despise tampons). I think that women have the right to be open about their period with one another, in private of course. The period is nothing more but a natural process of the female human body. What is the big deal?

    Comment by Bridget T. — November 26, 2011 @ 1:11 am

  13. This is so true. It is so sad that women are taught that their bodies are something to be ashamed of. That when you have your period your disgusting and that you must hide your period at all costs. I am 100% sure that if men had periods it would be some great event demonstrating their superiority over women, not to mention can you imagine men with period cramps LOL. Honestly this disgust with the female body is just another example of double standards.

    Comment by Chloe Shenassa (women studies 10 scholars) — December 6, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

  14. I was horrified when I first got my period. I thought that there was something wrong with me. As i got older it was something that my mother my sister and I would speak of. Growing up we had to address our periods using a special name for the time of the month because my mother always said that it was rude and un feminine to say that i had my period in front of my father and brother or any male figure.I don’t understand what the big deal is everyone is aware that women get there periods once a month. After all it is a billion dollar industry. So why should we feel bad about it or humiliated .

    Comment by Mirian M — January 19, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

  15. I am sorry for all of the women who have been socialized into seeing their menstruation cycles in such a negative light that is ultimately demeaning and oppressing. I was lucky enough to be raised by liberal women who educated me about my cycle before it happened. In fact, I was super stoked about getting my period because it meant that I was finally mature and finally a woman. I do receive negative sanctions when I even reference my period in front of guys, but I’m past the point of caring about “offending their manhood” by mentioning the subject.

    Comment by Taja Eddahbi — February 6, 2012 @ 11:29 am

  16. After reading the articles posted by the women I feel sympathy for them, because they are discouraged from expressing themselves during a big part of their lives. I myself do not really know much about menstruation, possibly because I am male, but I feel like that is a poor excuse. I feel as though I was never really introduced to the cycle as a child, and therefor never tried to learn about it. I used to always hear men saying “Ah, she must be on her period” in TV shows and in reality, simply when a female was in a bad mood. I know I would never want such unfair treatment. I have also heard about the nonsense about Hilary Clinton when she was running for president. This latter stereotype was what really confused me most. How could that possibly make sense? To say that she would just have mood swings once a month just because she is a woman who experiences the menstrual cycle is absolute garbage. Women should not be limited for a natural cycle that goes on in their body. Rather, they should be praised for being the caregivers to the worlds children and future.

    Comment by Benjamin B — April 16, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

  17. Such enlightening articles. I feel bad for those who feel like they should be ashamed or “dirty” during they’re periods. Yes, sometimes cramps can be a bitch. But we should be thankful for our menstrual cycles, because without them our bodies would not stay healthy. I’m so grateful that I have not grown up in an environment where I was ashamed or had to hide my period. My Persian culture taught me to look forward to this event in a great way, something that I should take pride in and be happy about. I absolutely hate when men say things like “she must be PMSing,” as if they never have mood swings? As if they are completely calm and rational all the time? How ignorant can you be?

    Comment by Melody A. — April 21, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

  18. In response to the comment above mine, I would just like to say that there is no medical need to have a period, unless to be used as an idicator of pregnancy… just saying. Now, that being said, I would not go so far to say that I love my period or have any sort of connection with it. I’ll be honest, it’s usually just a pain and a nuisance, and I can’t imagine anyone would disagree with that and NOT say that they’d rather not have one. But the fact that men and even women still regard menstruation as a disease and a sin is ridiculous — we are not still in biblical times, MOVE ON, people. Menstruation is a fact of life regardless of how uncomfortable, weird, or “gross” it may be; what’s most enraging is how men comment on it completely ignorantly and try to trivialize what women go through.

    Comment by Lyndsay — April 27, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  19. I have to admit that although society views periods as cursed and disgusting, I have always been so proud of mine. I remember when I was in the 5th grade, I would do just anything to get my period. There were times I would even pray for it. In my household, or at least to my mother, getting your period is a beautiful thing. When I did finally get my period I was telling all my friends and family. To this day, I am super happy the day I get my period. My coworker literally tells me I am “insane”, but I beg to differ. To me, getting your period is a beautiful thing. I honestly feel more like a woman when I am on my period. It truly does suck that we live in a society where commercial ads make periods so negative. Some Jewish couples even sleep separately when the female is menstruating. I think this is absurd. I say, BE PROUD OF YOUR PERIODS!

    Comment by Holly A. — May 5, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  20. It seems that a woman can never be upset or in a bad mood without men blaming their periods. Women are simply not taken seriously. I do not understand why men are not grossed out by the fact that they have wet dreams covered in their own semen?It is in a lot of ways similar to women receiving their periods. Patriarchy is once again to blame feeding members of society reasons to hate women more than they already are. This misogynistic attitude has made even women believe their bodies are dirty and disturbing. My family is Muslim and I have noticed that my mom does not pray the week that she is on her period because it is considered sinful in the eyes of God. Well if God “created” women then why would he create periods which he considers “sinful”? Men seem to desire children which is not possible if women did not have their periods. Men should respect the sacrifice women have to make once a month for 50 years of their lives to provide them with the privilege of having children thanks to us women.

    Comment by Melody S. — May 27, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

  21. It’s sad that menstration is seen as a dirty and shameful thing because we should be proud to have a period that means our bodies are working properly. I remember I started I was ashamed and didn’t want anyone to know and now I realize it’s because women are raised in the world to not be proud of it and to hide it from everyone because it is dirty. I also remember being afraid to ask any of my friends if they had started yet and if they had any tampons to lend me. A young girl should not be fearful of something like this. It’s true though that if men had periods they would be proud and share it to the whole world. I have to admit I am still embarassed and more subconcsious when I am on my period but I am trying to change that.

    Comment by Sarah Vincent — May 30, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  22. Now it all makes sense why I hate my period. It’s not only the bloating, fatigue, headaches, cramps, weight gain and acne that piss me off it’s the fact that on top of it all you have to take society’s shit. Besides the physical suffering for a whole week a woman also has to endure all the bullshit comments thrown her way. Hate to admit it men, but we are the reason you have the privileged of being a father. Women give men that title.
    It’s funny that periods is such a touchy topic in today’s society. I think that all the tampon commercials do a good job in shedding light on this issue. It’s funny to see a man’s reaction when you ask them to purchase a tampon or pad. They try every way to avoid this.

    Comment by Mary Marrone — May 30, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  23. My male privilege doesn’t allow me to fully understand what women go through during their periods. Despite this, I can honestly say I’ve never thought the menstrual cycle was disgusting. In fact, I would always ask my female friends about it because I found it so fascinating! Not surprising, most were either grossed out or called me a weirdo. I don’t see what’s unusual about a process that has the power to bring life into this world…

    Comment by David A. — May 30, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

  24. After reading the articles posted by the women I feel sympathy for them, because they are discouraged from expressing themselves during a big part of their lives. I myself do not really know much about menstruation, possibly because I am male, but I feel like that is a poor excuse. I feel as though I was never really introduced to the cycle as a child, and therefor never tried to learn about it. I used to always hear men saying “Ah, she must be on her period” in TV shows and in reality, simply when a female was in a bad mood. I know I would never want such unfair treatment. I have also heard about the nonsense about Hilary Clinton when she was running for president. This latter stereotype was what really confused me most. How could that possibly make sense? To say that she would just have mood swings once a month just because she is a woman who experiences the menstrual cycle is absolute garbage. Women should not be limited for a natural cycle that goes on in their body. Rather, they should be praised for being the caregivers to the worlds children and future.

    Comment by PanteaP — October 29, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

  25. I remember being in 5th grade and having no idea what a period was. I remember seeing a girl in my class storm out of the classroom crying. I turned to see a stain on the seat. I remember wondering, ‘Did she sit on ketchup?’ When I got picked up by my mom after school let out. I asked her why the girl left a red stain on the seat. My mother then explained menstruation to me for the first time. When I got my first period I remember being thrilled. A little more than the average girl I’m assuming. I couldn’t wait to wear pads. And till this day I’m always a little excited about it. Getting that brand new unopened box. It was a great moment for me and those cramps, there’s a solution for everything nowadays. I never saw it as being dirty or shameful. It’s a part of life and a relief if you’re sexually active. I dislike the way it is portrayed by the media and some men and women. Menstruating doesn’t make you incapable of completing your daily tasks or chores. They don’t prevent you from thinking clearly and making choices. They won’t hold you back from activities. To change the way society sees periods, us women need to change the way we see and treat our periods. It’s not a limitation, it is power!

    Comment by RosaE — November 7, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  26. Period’s are rarely talked about among girls, let alone guys. It is something that happens to a majority of the population, yet most girls find it extremely embarrassing to talk about it. Just thinking about saying the words “Im on my period” to a guy makes me cringe. Their is no way to make those words sound more appealing, because lets face it blood is never really something that is associated with beauty and cleanliness. In movies and shows, women who are on their period are often portrayed as crazy. They some how change personalities completely as if they have a psychological disorder. We all know their can be some slight mood changes due to PMS, but it is never as extreme as T.V shows and movies portray it to be. I remember watching the movie “No strings attached”, and Natalia Portman’s character got her period. The whole first half of the movie she was portrayed as this very independent and confident girl, until she got her period that is. She gets her period and becomes this weak and vulnerable girl who is ashamed of her period. When Ashton Kutcher’s characters is surprisingly nonjudgmental about the fact that she is on her cycle. This is seen as something extremely romantic and peculiar compared to the majority of guys reactions to girls being on their periods. I thought it was funny that they made such a big deal about her being on her period, and that shift in her character after she got her period was worth noticing. This article was very informative and interesting.

    Comment by Jasmine B (Women Studies 10 scholars t,th) — November 25, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  27. This article keeps you laughing the whole way through if your a woman because growing I was told things and still today I am told not to mention my period in front of men, but I see no reason to keep it in when around men. I mean everyone say’s it’s natural so why not talk about in front of men or get their view on a womans problem as most men want to call it, and the answer to that is just like the article states men take our situations like our periods as a joke or easy to reach punch line but not as the reason why they are here today. what i mean by that is without a period from a woman men and the rest of the world would not exisist, because once a young lady becomes a young woman and recieves her period only then is she able to become pregnant and bring new life into the world. This article shows the feministic double standard.

    Comment by Carmel — November 26, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

  28. I just read the article previously on breastfeeding and all I could say is again, we see something that is natural seen as something looked down upon, and repulsive. I do appreciate these women posting this article about their periods. To be honest, I wish I had read this when I was a twelve years old. A women’s menstrual system is a healthy, and very positive thing. It is the reason why human’s are still existing in the world. Women should not be looked down upon or humiliated for it. Obviously it is a private thing and maybe shouldn’t be discussed but again, it should not be looked down upon. Luckily I was never raised in an environment where the menstrual system was something to be ashamed for, rather it was always a good thing.

    Comment by Yael K — November 27, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

  29. It makes me so sad that girls still have to be ashamed of what is really a natural and beautiful cycle. It’s another example of how femaleness in a patriarchal culture is devalued and made out to be evil. I was prepared for my period to start, and while I didn’t have to suffer completely in silence, I was told constantly that I had to keep on top of my period and never let people know I was on it because it was disgusting. My father, after being involved with many women his whole life and having two daughters, still shrieks with disgust whenever I mention my menstrual cycle. One time when I was a child I had folded a paper towel in the shape of a square, don’t ask me why, but it resembled a pad. When my father came over to visit, he saw the paper towel lying on my dresser. Thinking it was a pad, he shrieked, laughed in disgust, and left because he was too shocked. He left. A women’s menstrual cycle is so gross to him he couldn’t even stay in my presence. I think it’s awful that men are allowed, even encouraged, to be disgusted by the menstrual cycle, especially when heterosexual men claim they love women so much. But how can a man say he loves a woman when he can’t accept her period?

    Comment by Tiana R.Q — November 30, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

  30. This article expressed in a concise way so many feelings I have about this subject. The problem I have is that the media has women jumping around and dancing in white clothes and proclaiming that we can do whatever we want we have our period if only we would use X product. Maybe some women can, but when I have my period, I get really nauseated, awful debilitating cramps, and migraines. It would be REALLY great if that part of having your period would be recognized by society. It is a natural, biological function, and I have to act normal once every month when I want to crawl in bed and sleep for two days. I feel like I should be putting on my white clothes and going to dance class and feeling awesome. I don’t feel awesome. I have just started reading a book (that my mom gave me) called The Red Tent that is the story of the Biblical Times told through the eyes of the women (Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, etc.). She didn’t give it to me for the religious part, but rather because the women of that time were feminists in their own way. It seems to me that the women had the right idea by allowing the menstruating women to have a break and go into the red tent and get away from chores during their periods. They didn’t see it as dirty, they saw it as sacred and a time when a woman could be with other women on their periods and be away from men and chores. I see that as a beautiful thing. In today’s world, the only time I hear that we should act differently is in yoga class when they say that you shouldn’t do inversions and to respect your body. Yoga for the win!

    Comment by Ellie G — November 30, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

  31. Reading this article brings me back to the painful memory of first getting my period, instead of being happy that I had finally crossed from girlhood to womanhood I panicked. I lived with my single father and was too ashamed to say anything and would sneak pads from my best friends mom. We should be celebrating our menstrual cycle and like professor Klein said in class unlike men we can actually bleed for a long period without dying. Thats like a super power to me now i realize it and it shouldn’t be a taboo to talk about anymore. Maybe thats why in this patriarchal society they don’t want us to embrace it because it can empower us and is a time when men cant dominate you sexually, usually. Its another way to make woman feel ashamed when they should really be proud and everyone should be open to talking about it.

    Comment by Lucy M — December 4, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  32. The fact that some families would celebrate the fact a young girl got her period, is kind of funny to me. I understand that it means that she’s growing up and becoming a woman. But to me getting my period was very awkward and scary for me. It just kind of happened randomly one day, and I didn’t know what to do about it, I didn’t even know what a period was. My mom came up to me laughing (not in a mean way) saying that she never expected me to get it so soon. But now I kinda hate the fact that I have/get them. If you’re a guy then you’ve never experienced the pain you get from menstrual cramps, and the weirdness you feel when you first experiments with pad (feels like diapers) and tampons. But one thing is for sure with my girlfriends, they’re actually really happy when they get periods, esp. if they’re in a sexual relationship it just means to them that they’re not pregnant.

    Comment by Mita S. — December 5, 2012 @ 12:24 am

  33. I think that it’s sad that a cycle that is so important in our society is given so much disrespect. Women, and men alike, should embrace the menstrual cycle, as it is such an integral part of life. Females transition from girls to women once they get their menstrual cycle, and that is something that should be celebrated. The menstrual cycle allows for life to be created, and something so powerful and awe worthy should not be put down within media.

    Comment by Matthew H. — December 5, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

  34. “Although girls now mature sexually earlier than ever before, contemporary American society provides fewer social protections for them, a situation that leaves them unsupported in their development and extremely vulnerable to the excesses of popular culture and to pressure from peer groups.” There couldn’t be a more truthful statement. Even though I have a supportive mom, puberty was a tough transition for me, and society’s stigma didn’t help. Until I took my women’s studies class, I never saw how powerful menstruation is. The fact that society doesn’t see the ability to bring new life into this world as something to celebrate seems very strange when I actually think about it.

    Comment by Taylor W — December 5, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

  35. It is unbelievable how people undervalue the menstrual cycle and look at this natural phenomena as disgusting! They never think about the amazing things that a female body does.. reproduction and being able to make a baby and keep it inside for 9 months. But we live in a patriarchy and putting women down and making them insecure. when I fist got my period, I didn’t tell my mother but after a couple days, I gave in. She got so excited and talked to me about it. I’m glad she took it as a good sign and made me feel good about myself.

    Comment by Nazli C — December 5, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

  36. I love my period! There I said it’s out there, it is in the open. While my first cycle was not marked my ceremonial event, a coming out as a women party or even a discussion regarding it, I have always felt proud of menstrual cycle. My period says that I am an adult woman who is capable doing great things with her body. It positively defines me. It may sound strange but I have a connection with it. When I get it unexpectedly I like to view it as Mother Nature’s friendly reminder that I am not pregnant. Having had an unexpected pregnancy it is a beautiful thing every month, let me tell you! I have to be honest thought for the first 3 years, I pretended like it was worst thing on earth because that is what the women around me were doing and it was what I had seen on television. I complained, manufactured PMS and joined the bandwagon of complaining and moaning about something that in retrospective is a great gift. The shame that goes along with a girl being on her rag is so disheartening to me. “She’s being a bitch because she is on rag or gross she leaked” these comments force girls to be embarrassed of something they really can’t control and b. something there bodies were meant to do. I believe it’s high time for women and girls to stop viewing it as a burden and rather as a gift. Also, if you can’t appreciate it for its connective and natural quality, it can and should be accepted as biology.

    Comment by Jewel B — February 4, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

  37. In the middle east, when a girl gets her period for the first time, mothers usually call their other girl friends and brag about it. Whereas girls see it as something shameful. To be honest when i first got my period, i didn’t want anyone in the world to find out, not my brother not my father no one. But the only person who i felt comfortable telling is my mother, and she was a lot happier and excited than i was. Growing up i realized how silly i was, pretending it was a deep dark secret when in fact it’s just something normal in any teenage girls life. The thing that stood out the most in this article is the picture that says if men had their period they would be bragging about the size of their tampons. Honestly no one could have said it any better, it just says it all.

    Comment by Mariya A — February 5, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

  38. It is true that growing up in this society your period is not something celebrated or openly discussed. Its pretty sad that its viewed as something disgusting when in reality its natural and the gift that gd gave us to allow us to have children one day, to carry a life. It is society and our cultures that has made having your period a horrible thing. And to add that PMS only happens to women is just as annoying. Men have changes in their moods just as much as women do within a moment yet people like Hilary Clinton are made fun of and criticized for it just because they are women and getting your period makes you “weak and unreliable”.

    Comment by Ashley M — February 6, 2013 @ 12:08 am

  39. I feel that this article is very true. It is so sad that women are taught that their bodies are something to be ashamed of and something that they suffer from. Having your period is a gift, not a curse and its something that women should take pride of.

    Comment by Ashley H. — February 7, 2013 @ 1:31 am

  40. During the time I became a woman, I was very lucky to have the love and support of my mother. I was not excited to obtain it. I actually cried. It saddens me that some women don’t get the support from their mothers. Also it is time to change social history and see the female body as beautiful, not dirty. People need to get educated before making comments like “women can’t be president because we PMS.” This article taught me that men have mood swings also. I was not influenced by pop culture. I was taught all the facts about menstruation when I turned twelve. I am grateful my family was there for me.

    Comment by Maria A. — March 17, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

  41. This article really spoke to me because up until recently I have tried to keep mine almost completely private. From the ages of 13-17 I kept all my empty tampon and pad boxes under my sink too afraid for people to see them in the trash can. I was afraid for my dad and brother to see them, considering anytime there’s a plumbing issue they love to blame it on my “feminine products”. Feminine products is such a hilarious and broad term by the way. I am almost embarrassed to admit that it is a man who is making me feel more comfortable about my period, my boyfriend is very open about it and by no means creeps around me when I’m on my period, he doesn’t understand why women try to keep it a secret. Slowly but surely I am realizing how ridiculous it is that us women need to keep menstruation a secret, everyone knows it happens!

    Comment by Jessica P. — April 30, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

  42. I am so happy to have read these articles. They made me think my personal reaction to the first time I started menstruating years ago. I felt so embarrassed and uncomfortable. I denied it until my mother confronted me about my odd behavior during dinner that night. I was mortified and still tried to keep a secret for months after. Luckily my mom would always restock the pads we kept under the sink. it a secret from my mother. I turned to my best friend instead These articles have helped me examine why I felt the way that I did. I was able to understand that there is negativity associated with menstruation, and that women are encouraged to keep it a secret because it is something “private.” I think that women should openly speak about their periods and that it shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about. I wish I read them when I first started menstruating- they would have helped me accept the change I was going through instead of trying to run from it.

    Comment by GT — May 22, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  43. This was an interesting article because of the various ideas of a women’s period. As we have read, the relationship between one’s attitude towards their period and their body overall has a direct correlation with their childhood and their mother’s reaction towards their body. When the first woman’s mother was disgusted by her daughter’s period, it is obvious that this women would grow up to be disgusted with herself because not even her own mother liked her. However, the other women who love their periods were probably raised with a mother who accepted her daughters period and talked about it with her. This kind of girl grew up to appreciate her period. I wouldn’t go as far as using a Diva Cup, but I certainly view my period as a blessing because it shows me every month that my body is regulating normally and that is something to be grateful for.

    Comment by Ashley K. — May 26, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

  44. Half of this post is very strange and new to me since I have never felt that a woman’s period is taboo, “sinful”, or evil. I’ve never even heard of it being as a curse (except in one class, my Magic, Witchcraft, & Religion class in which we learn about different tales told throughout hundreds of cultures in the world regarding menstruation) & I have never heard of anything extremely negative about it other than talks revolving around cramping & PMS. Which brings me to the second half of this post, which is the whole “PMS” excuse (on men’s end AS WELL AS on women’s end). Now THAT is definitely something I’ve heard of, seen of, dealt with, and even have fallen victim to using it as an excuse for several different situations (get out of PE free pass, anyone?). Personally, when I got my period, I was nervous, but definitely not confused, and excited to be entering woman-hood. My mother never made me feel odd about it, and the older I got, the more I learned to love and appreciate my period. The way I see it, it is our inner-clock. We often plan our weekends around it and our schedules around it because we know how we will be feeling, the type of mood we might be in, and what kind of food we’ll be craving 🙂 I love getting my period because it is like a stress reliever, in a very weird way. I feel more comfortable when it finally comes along and cleanses my body. I feel complete and happy, even though the process can be annoying. Though my period is extremely irregular, it helps me understand myself a little more each month. Also, I think its important to state that men do go through something similar to “PMS” as women, and they experience varying levels of emotion once every month, just like us.

    Comment by Ambar P. — May 29, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

  45. I remember being in 3rd grade, when I was 8 years old and getting my period in the restroom at the Y.M.C.A and having no idea what was going on or what a period was. I was wishing my mom was with me to tell me what was going on, but she was at home, and my dad was with me but he was outside. I was with my friend and she did not know what was going on with me, and I was freaking out a bit and a lady saw me and she was telling me what was happening, and I was a little better. I told my parents, and they said they had decided they were going to tell me in a couple years because they did not think I was going to get it so early. I was the only one in my elementary school who was having her period. Every month when I was on the rag, I would have to tell the teachers and go to the nurse to get some tampons. I was a little happy because I was the only one who got it and I knew what it was and I told all my friends because I was proud of being the first one to get it. But sometimes at school It was a little embarrassing because I had to walk out, and I was the only one. The average age for getting your period has been getting earlier. Scientists think that this is happening because of man made hormones released into the environment and put in food.

    Comment by M.D. — July 21, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

  46. Seeing reactions across different cultures, I think, is really important to a girl understanding that there are other ways of handling periods. I once read a book about a Muslim girl who lived in a very traditional part of the middle east and feared the day that she would get her period because it was like the end of her childhood. Reactions to mensruation changes across cultures. Some cultures have traditions of celebrations and joy. I remember my own mother crying when i told her what had happened in the bathroom. For a very long time I too believed that I couldn’t do anything while i was on my period. But now theres nothing i cant do.

    Comment by Margarita H. — July 23, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  47. This article has various true facts. It is sad that women have to go through certain experiences and shame the normal processes of the human body. I have never heard such a thing of the menstruation cycle begin celebrated. From my culture it was just a sign of me growing into a women. My mother would just tell me that my body is changing because it is a process that every female goes through. Getting my period I felt so uncomfortable and insecure. It took me months for me to get use to the process, for me it was a pretty scary experience.

    Comment by JessicaH — July 24, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

  48. Since the age of 11, I’ve always felt totally ashamed of my developing body. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide when I first menstruated. Although some cultures celebrate the beginning of womanhood, I’ve never lived in an environment that celebrates becoming a woman and owning one’s own sexuality as a woman. So many girls, including myself, have been taught to feel dirty and ashamed of all of our bodily functions. Boys’ bodies are so much more accepted and are not seen as “gross” and “disgusting.” It would be amazing if all girls could grow up feeling proud of becoming a woman and not feeling ashamed of such natural bodily occurrences like I was. Becoming a woman should be celebrated and should not be looked down upon. I’ll never forget being so afraid of telling anybody, including my mom, about my first period. Looking back, I find it so sad that that’s how I felt and that I couldn’t have felt proud and happy.

    Comment by Samantha C. — July 24, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

  49. It is not easy to be experiencing that because I personally have been in that situation where I did not find it as something to celebrate. I remember when my mother told me about what would happen to me when I grow up to be a young lady and I eventually got mine at a very young age. It was a hassle and at the same time it was something that I wished I would have never gotten. We have to see that times have changed and many people are getting it at a young age and it is quite scary if one does not talk about it to the little young girls who are experiencing this. We have to realize that talking about this is normal and shouldn’t be embarrassed because it is normal. But at the same time it can be a torture for many women who have so much pain with it. I experienced that type of pain and I would not want any other girl to experience because I was able to handle it but what if other girls cant react the same way as I did.

    Comment by Kimberly C — July 24, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

  50. When I first had my period I was really scared. Having my period was not a celebration for me because I did not know why I was bleeding. I was really ashamed about my period, and felt disgusting when I saw the blood. I did not know what to do until I got the courage to tell my mom that I was bleeding. She gave me Pads without telling me anything and I figured out that I had to wear them so I would not get stained. Coming from a reserved family it was disrespectful, awkward, weird to talk about our menstrual cycle. While reading the article it felt weird to read about the woman’s menstrual cycle because it has always been something that I never talk about. Reading this article made me realize that I have to learn to love my body and its functions.

    Comment by Veronica M — July 24, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

  51. I come from a family with two older sisters so “the curse” was never this scary thing that I didn’t know anything about. There are so many negative connotations that come with it; it’s dirty, women become irrational and overemotional due to PMS, etc. There is a bit of shame that comes with a woman’s period. It’s the thing you never tell a man about because of how much shame and disgust that comes with it. Some females are still very uneducated about their periods and are even afraid of tampons. Periods sometimes do feel like a curse because of the cramps and bodily pain that comes along with it. I know some girls who say that the only reason they get happy when they get their periods is because it’s their body’s way of telling them that they’re not pregnant. The extent that some females go to just to cover the fact that they are on their period is often ridiculous. I believe that it needs to be embraced because of the fact that it is a natural thing. Cultures that celebrate a young girl’s first cycle are definitely doing something right.

    Comment by CrystalY — July 24, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

  52. It is so telling to see how my personal experiences have totally just clashed with a set of experiences unbeknownst to me. Growing up in a female-dominated household, the image of tampons were always around. Often, the scene described in “Superbad” where period blood ends up on Jonah Hill’s character is something emblematic of the attitude towards periods in general. Unfortunately, for the majority of my life and up to reading this article, I was not even remotely aware of the disfigured portrayal of menstruation in popular culture even being around women at all times. Why? Because as articulated in most of these personal stories was the fact that they at some point had to live in shame or embarrassment. If talks about sex are openly discussed in mainstream culture, then it is without reason to just ask that a modicum of that attention be given to the sensitive nature of menstruation.

    Comment by Albert A. — October 27, 2013 @ 11:34 am

  53. It’s completely ridiculous that an event which signifies that an individual is healthy, and that the individual is actually able to reproduce is known as a curse and not a blessing. Once again, the media, influenced by patriarchal tycoons who only care about their wallets, have twisted reality into a more profitable lie. Women all over the world need to appreciate their health and their ability to reproduce, despite what society says or the discomforts involved. I applaud the families in the examples above which encouraged their daughters to embrace their bodies and not be ashamed of who they are.

    Comment by Sepehr H — November 14, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

  54. Luckily growing up surrounded by women I didn’t feel the “dirtiness” of my period until a year after I had got it. The things that kids were said at school about periods, like it’s grossness factor, deeply effected me and my celebration into the transition into womanhood. In my house getting your period was a big step, and a celebration. I was the last in line to receive it and was immensely exciting that I had joined the forces of women kind. But again because the outside population categorized it as being unclean, a huge insecurity deep-rooted itself into my subconscious and stayed there until I graduated from high school. Young girls should not have to experience it with shame, but celebration.

    Comment by Caroline F-H — December 4, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

  55. First, I have NEVER heard of the DIVA Cup? I did not even know that was an option. I did some research on it and I am somewhat surprised it is not mainstreamed marketed. Possibly because companies like Tampax or Kotex will go out of business.

    I have a love/hate relationship with my period. I love my period because it does tell me, I am fertile and healthy, but I hate it because hormones wreck havoc on my body. Not more so emotionally but physically. My legs hurt, my breasts not only increase by a cup but are tender. I get the most painful cramps (I may add that the women in my family told me, if I got married and have a baby they will go away!), and on occasion because it is genetic I do get a migraine. However, I take preventive measures to avoid these problems so it doesn’t affect my waking life.

    I never feared getting my period, I feared the limitations it would pose. I am the youngest female – so with three older sisters, I already knew what to expect. I too, knew from my sisters before me where to find the pads (under the sink). Ironically, my mother never let on when she was on her period. She hid it from us well. To this day, I could share with you that it was not something she discussed with me. It was the job of my sisters, to school me.

    Periods, like breastfeeding is a natural process of life. If I had a choice, I would love to be fertile and not have to deal with it, but it’s part of the human system. Sometimes you just have to role with the punches.

    Comment by Rosa G. — April 27, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

  56. I can relate to these. I was in the 5th grade when I first got my period. I remember all my other friends had told me that they had started, and they would ask another one of us to check when they got up to make sure they were not stained. Oddly enough, the day I got mine, I only knew because when I stood up the boy sitting behind me got up and told me to tie his sweater around my waist. Confused by this, I looked at him and all he said was “it’s red”. And so I went to the nurse’s office. But before this, my mother had not mentioned it to me, and I remember being so mad at her for not telling me that my vagina would bleed. But as she gave me the whole speech, she mentioned that she did not bother telling me yet, because she didn’t get her period until she was 15, and so had the other women in her family. And as I grew up, going to the nurses office to ask for a pad or tampon or asking another girl in the bathroom was always made to be an awkward moment. So many times I have even said it myself “I hate getting my period” because of the cramps. So many times I made sure that I cleaned myself with those wipes to prevent odor or I would carry an extra bag or extra toilet paper to wrap the pad and throw it away so that no one would see it in the trash can. But in recent years, I have learned to embrace it. Heck I am glad, I have my period, I don’t see it as something dirty, or something that I should be ashamed of , because if it wasn’t for me having to bleed once a week out of the month then I would not be able to reproduce. And on the side, getting your period once a month when you are sexually active is a sign that you are not pregnant, which to many of us now a days means that our birth control is working. So yay!

    Comment by Raquel I-V — May 4, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

  57. Periods, periods, periods. That lovely “gift” we get once a month. I got my period when I was 12. I remember sitting at the lunch table in Elementary School and all of a sudden felt this warm blob on my underwear. Being the drama queen that I was, I grabbed all my girlfriends and ran to the restroom after lunch time to check. I remember that I was the second girl out of my ten girlfriends to get it. As a fourth grader, I was already wearing training bras. I guess you could say my body matured at a young age. Getting your period for the first time back in 2007 meant that you were the coolest girl out there. You would officially be titled as a mature woman, or in my grandmothers words, “a Lady.” Years later, today, my period has become part of my life routine. I know exactly when my period comes by date, and exactly how long it will take to finish. There are so many girls out there that complain about their period and that “men have it easy,” but truthfully, I wouldn’t change a thing about the way the cycle works. It’s natural. It’s the way Gd created women. Most importantly, I think of it as being lucky. I am lucky that my body gets to “cleanse” and produce clean blood on a monthly basis. I am also very fortunate that my periods are regular, so that for time of reproduction, I know exactly if I am pregnant or not by having a missed period or not!

    Comment by Michelle Omidi — May 7, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

  58. I’m honestly upset to say that nothing in these articles surprised me. Periods have become such a major taboo- everyone follows the unspoken rule that unless you’re quietly asking for a tampon from a girlfriend, you don’t mention your period at all. I grew up in a house where my parents were open and honest with me about everything from what kind of food I was eating to sex and periods and drinking and drugs. Still, when I went to pee one morning and saw that my panties were covered in blood, my heart dropped. I knew what was happening, but my first instinct was that I was almost definitely dying. “Mom!” I shouted loud enough for my entire family, and probably the neighbors as well, to listen in. “Mom, my vagina is bleeding!” I was ready to cry. This would be how I died. Death by bloody vagina. My mom came to me and told me to calm down, asked me if I would prefer a pad or a tampon, and instructed me on how to use both, just in case. She congratulated me and left me to clean myself up while she called my grandmother to celebrate the good news, I was a woman now. I was lucky to grow up in a household that was so open and accepting of normal bodily functions, and as a result, I’ve found that I’m not ashamed of my period. I’ve mentioned it casually to boyfriends and guy-friends as well as complained about cramps with my girlfriends, and when someone reacts badly to it, I tell them to grow up. Once we accept our bodies, and all of the bloody, crampy, reminders that your womb is still empty, it’s clear that there is no need for the shame. Let’s kill this taboo, one period at a time.

    Comment by Maya K — June 1, 2014 @ 9:55 am

  59. […] “More than anything else, using a Diva Cup has reunited me with my body. It’s allowed me to bridge that gap that we’ve been encouraged to create between our bodies and our selves. Before I started using menstrual cups, I had no idea how much I bled each day, how the flow changed, how its consistency changed, all of that. I had a vague idea I suppose but I never felt comfortable and familiar with my period the way I do now. I won’t get too graphic for the squeamish out there (even the fact that I have to say this and censor myself is indicative of the problematic relationship we as a society have with women’s periods!) but now that I use a menstrual cup I’m able to see how much I bleed, which days I bleed more, what changes accompany my cramps (if there’s more or less blood, if the consistency of the blood changes, etc), and so much more.” […]

    Pingback by Menstrual Cups | My Period BlogMy Period Blog — June 22, 2014 @ 3:22 am

  60. As women I have to deal with the “Curse” I will say that I don’t find it terrible I just find that it’s not a enjoyable time of the month. For many women it’s painful but I don’t shame my period. I know that others do and it’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s something that every woman must go thought its just society puts such a bad name around and some countries put it to shame, they forget that it something natural that we have no control over.

    Comment by adrianna heads — July 30, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

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