Here’s a question: why the fuck can’t I complain about my period to anyone and everyone? In the filing cabinet of the subtle ways in which sexism shapes our lives, I feel the unofficial ban on talking about your period deserves a folder. Women do talk about their periods, of course; but it seems to me that this only happens with freedom and nonchalance when in the company of exclusively other women. Or at least this has been my experience ever since I first got my period, at the ripe age of 16; every time I mentioned it in front of other people, my sister – always the guardian of what is appropriate and polite – would shoot me a look and sometimes even growl silently at me through her teeth. To this day, when I whine about it on facebook, she leaves messages to the extent of “what am I going to do with you?”
But of course, there is no reason why we ought not to talk about our periods. They can play a major role in our day when they are at their height, especially when they are painful or otherwise inconvenient. Yet for some reason we are supposed to remain discreet about them in certain company; you’re not supposed to mention to anyone other than a relatively good friend that you are having awful cramps, for example – yet such rules do not apply to other comparable debilitations, such as headaches. Indeed, it feels sometimes as though we are supposed to pattern our behavior during our menstrual cycles on the lighthearted and “feminine” packaging of tampons and pads – nothing but sunshine and flowers here!, don’t worry!