I’ll start by saying I’m not particularly sensitive, nor the type to be perpetually offended. I’ve grown accustomed to blatant sexism that exists in our society, which I’ve learned to let roll off my back – mostly. I don’t have time to address every damn micro-aggression that is hurled at my vagina…
However, I stumbled upon an article about Virginia Prisons banning visitors from entry if they were wearing a tampon or a menstrual cup. Say what? The fear is female visitors could smuggle drugs or various contraband to the inmates via a tampon or menstrual cup. Uh-huh. Hey, Einsteins… a vagina is its own cubby. Why don’t you just ban vaginas!?
This mandate dated September 20, 2018, was such a provocative topic that it caused instant outrage toward Virginia’s
Secretary of Public and Homeland Security Safety, Brian Moran. Although the prison visitors were offered free menstrual pads instead, the civil rights activists were having a ‘running through the prairie’ field day about this issue. After only one week, Moran quickly put a, “…suspension on the ‘order’ until further review.” Hey, thanks Brian. It’s an almost ‘win’ for vaginas in Virginia.
Moonshine Soaked Tampons and Stigma
Aren’t all the women who visit prisoners guilty of haphazardly stuffing their menstrual cups with cigarettes and soaking their tampons in moonshine? Come on, we all know some of the biggest culprits of smuggling drugs and contraband into any prison are the ones guarding the prison’s themselves… Google it!
This got me thinking about the stigma and lack of conversation we have surrounding our vaginas and menstruation in society. It’s as if we keep our period behind bars under lock and key for life. So how can we all change our dialogue and make a difference, or let the cat out of the bag – sorta speak?
Here's what I've decided to do in order to do my part:
1. Tell people I’m menstruating
I’m not going to run through the streets screaming, “my vagina is bleeding”, but I will casually mention my menstruation during conversation if it is somewhat relevant.
The way I see it, if you’re talking to a man or even a younger man, mentioning menstruation might take the edge off the subject. I have noticed a few men blushing or behaving awkwardly as I mention a casual fact about my period, but hopefully, over time, they will become desensitized to the subject.
2. Talk to school administrators about periods – and how they are addressed by teachers
Young women getting their period during the school day can be a major hassle. If they can’t make it to bathroom in time, they might suffer a major embarrassment that can scar them for years. Kids can be such assholes sometimes.
It’s important that schools be “period sensitive” and cut these young ladies some slack. For example, if a girl raises her hand and asks if she can go to her locker and then the bathroom, the teacher should not ask (in front the entire class), “Why do you need to go to your locker?” because it might embarrass her. Make sure your child’s school is thoughtful about this subject.
Be an advocate for young female students in your community. I’m not saying you need to be a nark, but definitely make it known that you’re the “period police” of your local schools, and you won’t hesitate to put any of them on blast if they are making menstruating student’s lives difficult. I love empowering tweets.
3. Talk to the young men in your life about periods
When my son was 10 years old I made sure he knew about periods. He knows that it’s totally natural and not something a girl should be ashamed of or made fun of. Men are afraid of the unknown, especially when it comes to how lady bits truly work. There are a lot of moving parts to us.
Make sure the men in your life know that periods can sometimes be problematic and embarrassing for women. Explain that sometimes girls can experience pain, mood shifts and fatigue as part of menstruation, and to be thoughtful, and aware of these signs. The entire point is to over time get men comfortable with talking to women about their biological reproductive occurrences.
We can cultivate a generation of young men who respect menstruation and treat it as something normal like a pimple, growing hair under your armpits or an erection.
What else can we do?
As a whole, society needs to protect women’s rights pertaining to their bodies, what they put in them, on them or over them. Let’s be “Period Positive” and talk about the most natural and productive process a woman goes through every single month.
Let’s not get carried away, I’m not going shake your hand and say; “Nice to see you, Brad. I’m on my period.” Nor will I run through the streets screaming, “My vagina is bleeding.” But I will encourage open dialogue when appropriate… or even when it’s not.
About the Author: Suzan Brittan
Suzan a native New Yorker based in Los Angeles, is a published author, creative and non-fiction writer for various forms of media, chronicles, TV, and film. She also is a professional singer and Voice Over Artist.