Thursday, 28 May 2015
Women still feel obliged not to mention their periods, in some cases not even to their family or close friends. They have to hide tampons and pant-liners from work colleagues or acquaintances. Any visible sign such as blood on clothing is seen as utterly mortifying. The whole messy business has to be strictly hush-hush, as if it's something to be deeply ashamed of.
Even adverts have to be coy and euphemistic. Blood isn't red, it's blue. Periods are "the time of the month", while menstrual products become "feminine hygiene". In films and books, periods are seldom discussed - people don't want to know about about "that sort of thing".
Religions of course are even more censorious and puritanical. Menstruating women are seen as unclean and impure. They may be forbidden to pray or perform religious rituals. They may be excluded from normal daily life. They may have to refrain from sex. Otherwise they'll contaminate everyone around them.
Sometimes in the supermarket queue, I see women carefully shielding their tampon packets from view. Heaven forbid that a man might be alerted to their disgusting monthly leakage.
And from what I can gather, many men are still too sheepish to buy their girlfriend's tampons. They imagine the cashier will have them down as a screaming weirdo rather than a helpful, considerate bloke.
It's not just painful periods that are "the curse". It's all the prudishness and revulsion that turn them into something hideous.