Recently, a story has been doing the rounds about a young chap who thinks that periods are a result of women not being able to control their bladders. Now, for the purpose of this piece, I’m going to assume that this guy in completely genuine. I strongly suspect that he is just an Internet troll who has created a hateful persona because it gets him attention. He apparently got a bit of a spotlight on him during the Brexit nonsense for saying outrageous things. A bit like Katie Hopkins, I’m like 99% sure he’s just saying this garbage so it will go viral and it will look like he matters. But for argument’s sake, let’s assume that he genuinely believes that the only reason that periods escape the body at any time other than on the toilet is because women can’t control their bladders. We need to demystify periods.
“I’m 32, and when I was at school, periods were shrouded in mystery for the boys.”
The thing is, his wild statement is not so far removed from what people genuinely believe. I’m 32, and when I was at school, periods were shrouded in mystery for the boys. They were asked to leave the room when the mortified lady PE teacher had to stand at the front of the class at show us tampons. The biology was explained rather generally in science, but in a very detached way. If the closest thing you had to this experience was holding your pee in, why wouldn’t you think a girl can do the same with her period? I recently read Isy Suttie‘s excellent book ‘The Actual One‘, were she recounts an incident where she got her period while sick with the Norovirus. She sent some male friends out to get sanitary towels and they came back with nappies, because same difference, right? If you have only ever had a passing experience with a pad and a nappy, why wouldn’t you think they were interchangeable? This is not stupidity, this is a lack of education.
Things are getting a bit better now, but outbursts like the one from this moron show how uneducated some people are. People are agreeing with him. They agree sanitary products should be a luxury item, because women could hold in their periods if they just wanted to. They’ve been encouraged to think fictional things about what’s going on in there, because no one is talking about it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we need to broadcast it when it’s that time of the month (if you want to, that’s your business, and I won’t stop you!) but treating the womb like Voldemort is helping no one. The closest we get is a snide comment if a lady disagrees/gets annoyed/raises her voice, someone may suggest that mensies is the issue, not their own jackassery. Boys see it as something to fear, girls are embarrassed by it, and women need to lead the charge to make a difference.
“Get the birds AND the bees in your bonnet about this!”
So what can we do? Firstly, stop giving attention to the massive bell end I’ve been referencing in this article. You’ll notice I’ve not included his name or any links to his comments; this is because I don’t want to give him any more traffic. Secondly, if you have kids, ask about sex education in the school and what is covered. Will the boys receive education about the menstrual cycle and how it impacts women, just like the girls do? If not, why not? You don’t just need a new in your bonnet about this, you need to get the birds AND the bees in your bonnet about this! Couple this with talking openly about it at home, and you’ll be paving the way for your own boy feminist to flourish. Thirdly, I can highly recommend Sarah Pascoe‘s book ‘Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body‘, for any adults both male and female. It’s well researched, educational (I’ve learned loads from listening to the audiobook!) and very funny. It has some great talking points too, not only about the biology side of sex education, but also the emotional side.
It’s not too late for us. We can be smart, educated AND popular on Twitter. We’re better than the trolls. We’ve got to be.