Let’s Talk About Periods (For Once)

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Let’s Talk About Periods (For Once)

Jami Citko, staff

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Strawberry week. The red plague. Niagra falls. Bloody Mary. Red army. Blood festival. Do any of these sound familiar? They’re euphemisms for the menstrual cycle, more commonly known as the period. According to Clue, there are over 5,000 terms for it. 

But why not just say period?

Talking about menstruation has been a taboo for centuries. From ancient religious texts to early hunting practices, menstruation has seemingly caused a divide between males and females over the years and may even be an underlying cause of patriarchy. 

This may have stemmed from ancient myths that, while menstruating, women “could stop hail storms and lightning…kill crops…kill bees, dim mirrors and rust weapons just by looking at them,” said Knixteen. 

Although the fear of menstruating women may have subsided in more recent times, the topic is still a taboo to a lot of people, including the family of senior Hamzah Syed. 

“In the household I grew up in, they want you to stay away from all that stuff, and it’s basically a taboo to talk about it in Muslim families and brown families,” Syed explained. 

Syed also expressed that because menstruation is taboo in his home environment, he feels uneducated on the topic. According to Popular Science, an alarming number of men aren’t very knowledgeable when it comes to periods, and according to Independent, 44% of girls “do not know what is happening to them the first time they have their period” because it is considered an awkward topic in society. 

Others have also noticed that talking about menstruation is frowned upon in regular social settings. 

“I feel like they just kind of shove people away if they say that. It’s normal, but people act like it’s not,” freshman Claire Stump expressed. 

Periods have also been noticeably misrepresented in media. Huffington Post expressed that there are “very few positive portrayals” of menstruation in TV shows and movies, which “may be sending young women very bad messages about their bodies during a normal biological process.” 

Some women just want people to see what they go through in a more accurate light, but media portrayal gives people the wrong idea, which can lead to negative interactions. 

“I feel like guys automatically assume that because we’re in a bad mood we’re on our period. They don’t have the right to say that. Don’t ask that, it’s rude,” senior Keira MacBrid stated. 

The reasoning for the avoidance and flawed portrayal of the topic is often because of the stigma. Sometimes, however, the reasoning is simple: some people just think it’s gross. 

“I just feel like it’s a little bit of a difficult subject to breach, not something very pleasant to talk about, just imagine it,” MacBrid expressed. “It’s a little gross to some guys.” 

Some women are comfortable talking about their monthly with each other but aren’t as open with men. 

“It depends on the gender of the audience…I can talk to [girls] since they have it too,” senior Vy Nguyen explained. “If males had periods too and understood my feelings, I would share totally.” 

It is easy to assume that a male wouldn’t want anything to do with a conversation about menstruation. After all, they can’t fully understand the experience. A lot of males, however, are indifferent. 

“I don’t really mind that much. It doesn’t matter, it’s a bodily function, it’s like going to the bathroom,” junior Solomon Robin expressed. 

In fact, some men feel that it’s the women who don’t want to discuss periods with them. 

“They think it’s weird, but I have no opinion about it because it’s a natural thing and they have no control over it,” Syed described. 

Despite the ongoing stigma, there are people who feel totally comfortable discussing menstruation with anyone willing to listen. 

“I’m comfortable talking about it publicly because all girls go through it. It’s not a thing that you’re alone in,” junior Colleen Leahy expressed 

Leahy is one of many who wouldn’t mind if more people talked about their periods. 

“For some people it’s really personal, and then for other people it’s like everyone’s in it together. It would depend on the person and whether they’re comfortable,” she explained. 

Others are even stronger advocates for depleting the stigma around menstruation. 

“There’s no reason for it to be a taboo,” Syed declared. 

Taboos can’t be broken without effort. Clue sums it up nicely with their claim that “[b]y bringing menstruation out into the open, you’re letting others know that it’s okay to discuss. And the first step in breaking taboos is properly naming and talking about menstruation—without using euphemisms. It can be awkward at first, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be.”