Take The First Step
Last week, I was sitting in my office when the girl next to me whispered something. I didn’t understand a word. However, in a second, I realized exactly what she wanted to say, and why she was being secretive about it. She wanted to know if I have a spare sanitary napkin. The thing is, even though I didn’t get why she was whispering at a volume below my ability to hear, I knew exactly why girls did that, especially when male colleagues were around. Anyway, I said yes, and she said that she might need it later in the day.
An hour later, she whispered to me again, and this time she needed it. I opened my bag and handed it over to her. Now, the interesting part was her shock at how I handed it over to her so casually. Well, excuse me if I do not treat a pad like I am peddling drugs, because I am not! And that is when I realized that what I did was not normal. She was taught to act like this and I was the insensitive one.
Every girl can remember the first time she started to bleed. She probably felt like she was going to die soon. And the first thing she was told, was to hide it from each and every male around her, including her father and her brother. I too, initially, thought that it was the right thing to do. But as I grew up, being a rebel, I started questioning it. Now as a grown woman, I find it simply... well... lame!
As girls, we are always taught to be ashamed of our own biological selves. We are conscious of how we sit, where we sit and what we wear. It is not a wonder that the idea of discussing periods terrifies us to an extent where we choose the easier option, which is to be reticent about it
The question here is, why is there a stigma towards the most natural thing in the world?
As a woman, you are always subjected to the prejudices of the society. From the way you walk to how you eat, you are judged constantly. It is a crime to have body odor, body hair or even talk about your womanhood!
In one of its articles, ABC news quoted Jane Ussher, professor of Women’s Health Psychology at Western Sydney University, “Periods [have long] been associated with dirt, and disgust, and shame, and some might say fear.”
In a social experiment conducted here in India, a few girls were asked to buy sanitary pads from local stores, and were asked to instruct the shopkeeper not to wrap the pack in a newspaper or in a black bag. The experiment later covered the thoughts of the shopkeepers, who made remarks such as “How can a girl think or talk like that? It is a thing of sex and should not be taken out in the open.”
In India, girls drop out of school once they start their period. Many do not speak up about the stress and pain they face when they are menstruating.
The pain you and I feel during those five days is nothing to be afraid of. It is, after all, the most natural thing in the world!
One thing, however, is for sure. To see change, we have to be the change. It’s high time we stand up and speak up. Dialogue is the way to progress.
Let's take the first step and break that damn silence.
Written by Ayushi Chamoli