How can we change the conversation around menstruation?
Published on May 30th, 2017
Menstruation, though a perfectly natural process, is one subject that still makes most people uncomfortable, and is still surrounded by innumerable myths and misinformation.
What is it about menstruation that makes people uncomfortable and how can we change the conversation around it?
After making headlines for ‘A Brown Girl’s Guide to Gender‘, a poem on gender discrimination, 18-year-old Aranya Johar has now come up with another monologue. This time on the apparent taboo phenomenon Menstruation.
“….I was taught menstruation was supposed to be kept in the hidden or whispered, so I am constantly paranoid about carrying Whisper, Stayfree and more… just so I could stay stress free…hoping no one whispers behind my red stained jeans…”
The video posted on a Facebook page called Menstrual Hygiene Day – India has nearly 70,000 shares.
She talks about a world where “we could live without the need to hide..where we celebrate the only blood that bleeds without violence..in a world where pads aren’t wrapped and monologues aren’t silenced..”
Johar talks about the stigmas associated with menstruation.
“If my body’s made of stardust and my skin matches land, If my body’s geology can make continents tremble and mountains move… You aren’t allowed to tell me that I should be shy… Because I paint the town red for a week, every month of my life.”
The taboos harboured by society with respect to menstruation are no secret, and neither are the restrictions imposed on women when they are menstruating. From being disallowed from entering temples to being told not to touch pickles, women have to go through a lot for something that is perfectly natural.
From being disallowed from entering temples to being told not to touch pickles, women have to go through a lot for something that is perfectly natural.
Why Is Menstruation Considered A Taboo In India?
Let’s find out what other people have to say about taboos surrounding menstruation.
Understanding this issue from a socio-evolutionary perspective, most cultures of the world shaped out to be patriarchal in nature and functionality. There has been a long history of approaching various subject matters from a male perspective, thus establishing “male” as “normal”. Women were considered to be deviant from “normal” and sometimes the “mutilated men” who should live with this deformity. (One may also be interested in the ideas of Freud which were initially discussed by Hippocrates and Plato about ‘penis envy’ and ‘wandering womb’ as the basis of psychological issues in women.)
Taboos are formed and established in a particular culture by the perpetuating of thoughts and beliefs over a particular period of time. They become so embedded in our collective psyche that we refuse to let go of them even when the circumstances in which they originated change. Approaching it from a socio-psychological perspective, keeping women away from kitchen, religious spheres, bedrooms etc. Read More… – Aakanksha Bhatia
One thing I read in Manusmriti is that food that is offered to Brahmans in Shradh should not be seen by a menstruating woman Youth Connect. Manusmriti was written during during Vedic age and was followed in India and was a very important text. Girls were not supposed to pray, to cook and many other things and this came as tradition not to talk on such issues in family or in front of guys. It is believed that girls are impure during that days. Girls are not allowed to touch a jar of pickles. If a girl say anything about period in a crowd then she is seen by everybody with negativity. When people will understand that it is just a natural thing. You don’t hide your laugh, your fear, your anger then why to hide this? It’s already very painful for girls and so many complications makes it more painful. Read More… –
Menstruation is something that brings images of uncleanliness to the male dominated society that we have in India. Well the Hygiene issue was true before the era of Sanitary Napkins and Tampons. In ancient india when the rules were created in various smritis. A fascinating mythological story, Read More… – Vivek Ravindranath
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WHY ARE PERIODS SUCH A BIG TABOO IN INDIA? People do not realise how important Periods are…Well it pains a lot in our gut but we can face it damn ,we do not need the break, the isolation and weird rules for 3 or 5 days. This is not something that can be avoided and no one wants to take the pills to stop them because it will have serious health implications in later life. Periods is your that one annoying friend [I say friend] you can’t avoid meeting every month till your menopause. Why are your periods, your friends because it gives you the freedom to give the excuses to being cranky ,sleepy ,tired and do all the lazy stuff. I love my periods, like honestly [if it doesn’t pain].Every girl faces it and there isn’t a need to make it such a big deal. Especially in INDIA and traditional Hindu families, girls, need to go through a lot…Remember the weird rules I was talking about and why it does not hold well in today’s age… Read More… – Vaishnavi Magesh
This is purely an opinion! and might not fetch as many acceptances! I feel, being an Indian girl, that anything private about a woman is considered a taboo here. Be it her dressing, her career choices(in context of modelling or acting) or things as natural as menstruation! Women cannot speak about it in public! even to the male members of the family. They are not allowed to do or touch anything related to God, aren’t allowed to perform religious activities. Read More… –
In older India, women had to do a lot of physical work in their households. Drawing water from wells, washing clothes, cooking, grinding atta (mind you, there were no mixers or grinders and all those fancy gadgets back then!), mincing, serving food, cleaning the house (which’d generally be a big haveli, considering a joint family structure), making mud-cakes, tending to the animals, helping on the farm.. well the list was endless.. Also, no tampons or pads or fancy equipment was used to contain the menses. Women used cotton cloth and whatnots to avoid staining. They also had to wash their ‘cloth’ themselves. Read More… – Ojas Gohad
It really depends on people’s thoughts and I think it is really stupid that menstruation is considered a “taboo”. I mean its a natural thing! Here’s an amazing eye opener for all those people who consider menstruation a “taboo” Menstruation Diaries – Aashna Iyer performs “Inheritance” | Airplane Poetry Movement… Read More… –
It’s not rightly so that it is still considered as taboo but one may mention it as taboo in remote village locations.Just like old age customs such as Sati (abolished) and child marriage(abolished and lawfully enforced), menstruation among women was under same quota, but thanks to recent advancement in medical science and media awareness, it has been accepted by the society. Hopefully, this taboo will very soon be eradicated from the country in the coming years. – Sandeep Kumar Panda
In a country like India, where more than half of the population indulges in random abuses regarding everything that their native place lacks in, no one actually talks about what India possesses in its heritage. It’s not our fault. Hum to bade hi holi, diwali, aur lodhi manake huye hain. Ek taraf apna religion sabse acha hai ye preach kia lekin apne religion ki achhaiyan bhul gaye. Aisa hi ek bhula bhatka festival hai RAJA PRABHA. This festival is one of the many pro feminism rituals that ancient India cherished. Yes, we had it always! It’s just our forefathers forgot to talk about these festivals. Well, better late than never, I took the initiative to explore our roots and bring to you what has been long forgotten. This is my way to shake you and maybe wake you to be the India we were once known for. Read More… – Drishti
Is it? I know of certain cultures in India where the onset of menstruation is celebrated, puja sessions held and large feasts organized. There are also certain castes which forbid girls, women from entering temples, kitchens etcwhen they menstruate, so no homogenization in terms of India’s attitude towards women bleeding. One reason i can think of is because it is contagious maybe and the discharge is of impure blood. – Shilpa Rathi
Shame in India grows out of the rituals ingrained in people since ages. Same is the reason for menstruation to be considered shameful. Many religions consider it ritually unclean. In fact, extremists prefer menstruating women to stay away from the daily household chores and even their families for at least three days. And the word shameful doesn’t suffice, the taboo has grown to a different level. Have a look at these photographs below and you will understand what a woman goes through while menstruating. Read More… – Surbhi Minocha
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The reason behind negatives is the myths about menstruation, the secrets which different people add according to their understanding, lack of education and knowledge about the same and to some extent societal hypocricy is also responsible. I guess women are more responsible. – Naina Jha
Good question, even today this practice is in place, especially in few rural areas women has to spend 5 days in a hut located outside the village. I don’t go deep into the History, but according to my observation, this practice had started to give rest to the ladies who are on their periods. If they connect this thing with God, Religion then nobody dares to challenge it, so ladies will get that free 5 days time to take rest and recover from it. One of the Good practice started by our ancestors. – Karthik Ramesh
Anything ….that a lot of people feel shy talking abt or discussing in public becomes “taboo” and nothing is New with menstruation…. We people grow in an environment that is less sensitive to other people’s matters. We r born with this attitude-“why should I care!!!!. If it doesn’t affect me.”So male society believes that menstruation is girls stuff….And there is no point in listening to their concerns and problems…. Read More… – Pooja Verma
In my opinion, we should speak more and more about periods as much as possible. We should teach our children both boys and girls about menstruation and sex and other such important topics from the early age. The society needs to grow up and do away with all the nonsense regarding periods. In my honest opinion the reason why men in the past hated periods so much was because they couldn’t have sex with the women at that time as it would be annoying and messy. Anyways I think it’s time for a revolution. – Mitch Starc
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