Yesterday I came on my period.
Shocking isn’t it? Are you paralysed with fear at the thought of blood flowing out of my lady parts? Are you squirming in your seats as you think of all the people reading my strange announcement? Does it disgust you? Do you think it’s dirty? Well I don’t.
I have had my period every month since I was 13, and I have felt the need to hide it every single time. I’m done.
It’s time we had the talk.
On average, around every 21 days every biological female who isn’t pregnant or at menopausal age bleeds around 2.4 tablespoons of blood over 5-8 days. There it is. That’s all a period is. So why are we so shamed by a normal bodily function?
I realised recently that I often think or speak about the negative stigma surrounding periods, and how much it irritates me, but so far I’ve yet to do anything about it. So here’s any insight into our world:
1) The pain. Some months it flies past without me noticing, others – like this one – I need to cuddle up to a hot water bottle and binge watch SATC. It’s not so much a stabbing pain, for me it’s like a general ache…a really really really bad ache. Someone I know said to me to me recently ‘it feels like my uterus is trying to rip its way out of my body with the assistance of a flame throwing chainsaw’. Accurate.
2) The cost. I use Tampax Pearl regular tampons. For a box of 40, it costs £5.49. That includes beautiful thing called tax, which ‘women’s products’ like Tampons and Towels are taxed 5% in the UK. In fact, three months ago a 198000-strong petition campaigning for VAT on Tampons to be scrapped was handed to George Osborn, but we have yet to see any affect from this. Dina Rickman wrote an article on Things You Don’t Have To Pay Tax On, That Aren’t Tampons. The list is ridiculous. We don’t pay tax on things like crocodile meat, baps and pitta bread, or cake decorations, and much much MUCH more. As Dina so eloquently asks, what’s more essential, Mr Osborne, tampons or crocodile meat?
3) Anger = Period (even if you’re not on). How many times have you been upset or angry and someone has said “oh my god, are you on your period or something?” JUST BECAUSE I HAVE FEELINGS DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN DISMISS THEM ON THE BASIS OF ‘WOMEN’S PROBLEMS’. What a hypocritical way of weakening and invalidating all women’s feelings in the history of the world.
4) Surprise attacks. Waking up in the morning to find blood over your sheets and having to hide that from your partner or deal with the embarrassment. It literally feels like when you were 3 years old and you wet the bed. Or popping out to town and realising very suddenly you’ve come on and you’re wearing your favourite jeans and STRESSSSSS. It’s embarrassing. I remember watching an episode of My Mad Fat Diary, where Rae has this exact scenario and Finn has a go at people for laughing at her. I don’t even watch this programme, but this scene sticks in my mind. I remember thinking ‘My god, I think I’d die of shame’…but why should we feel like this? (You can tie this one into ruined clothes)
5) Emotional roller coasters. We all know that I don’t like the word bitch, but I have to admit, if there’s ever a substantial time to call me one – this is it. I just don’t really care. I mean genuinely seriously couldn’t give a flying fuck.
6) I feel fat. Listen okay, we all know I’m not fat, I know I’m not fat – but every time I’m on, I end up wearing baggy clothes and hitting my ‘ding dong’ thighs and just generally crying about how ridiculously fat I am.
7) The lack of bins in toilets. It’s 2015. Women have periods. And if you’re gonna post little signs everywhere saying ‘DON’T FLUSH IT DOWN THE TOILET’ then you’re gonna have to give us somewhere else to put it aren’t you. As my close friend said ‘Want me to leave it in the sink? Or tie it to the door handle? Fine by me!!’
Now this is where I get really serious, so listen up.
8) The stigma. I, and numerous other people I’ve spoken to, feel dirty or unclean whenever I have my period. I feel as though my feelings suddenly can’t be trusted, I feel as though my mouth should remain shut – I feel like less of a person. I hate that I have to slyly get my tampon out of my bag when my colleagues aren’t paying attention, I hate that I consciously wait until someone has flushed the toilet or is using the drier before opening my tampon in public places, I hate that I’ve dated people before who will barely touch me if they know I’m on my period.
Even my own mother used to shame me by announcing in front of my family ‘why were you in the bathroom so long?’ I remember using her tampons, and on several occasions she screamed at me that it wasn’t acceptable for a young girl to use them. I didn’t have an older sister to turn to, I was 13 and petrified, and at that age I could’ve really done with some goddamn support. It shocks me that now I look back at this time, my mother – of all people – should’ve known what I was going through, but just like the rest of society she shamed me too.
Just so we all know, the vagina doesn’t grow teeth during this time. We don’t turn into monsters screaming at anyone who dares talk to us.
I will not be shamed anymore, and I invite you all to take a stand with me. I am (right now) going to get a tampon out of my handbag and walk to the ladies with it in plain sight. If I am in incredible pain and I need to take the afternoon off of work, I will no longer fake a migraine or say I have a doctors appointment. From now on I will open my tampon when someone else is quietly in the public bathroom too, and I will leave my feminax on my desk for all to see.
I don’t want to have to walk out of my house waving a red flag every month, but I will do it if that’s what it takes.
I am done with being publicly shamed by my vagina.