I recently stumbled upon this Kickstarter campaign. A male designer came up with this really smart (?) idea for a woman to discretely explain to her partner that she’s on period and isn’t in the mood for love. As much as I think the idea might be funny and actually quite useful for someone too shy to say 'no' to the period sex, the imagery just scares me.
Each pair of panties is illustrated by a comic book character like Cunt Dracula, Bleeder of the Pack, Evil Beaver, Bloody Hell etc. All of the graphics, with no exception, relate to the dark characters from the comic stories. I don’t want to judge designer’s sense of humor, but certainly I felt offended by assuming that my bleeding vagina is evil. Actually this part of me called the period is one of the things that makes me a woman. I don’t see absolutely any reason to call the menstruation a bloody hell.
This is not the first time I come across the fear of the scary monster Period. I used to date a very nice guy who (to my surprise!) told me once that menstruation seems dirty to him. Eewww… menstruation is blood that comes out from a place very close to where you pee and poo! It must be unhealthy, dirty, contaminated. You should neither see it nor touch it. If you don’t know what it is, better stay away!
As you may be aware the belief that a woman on period should be secluded from the society is widely spread among various cultures. The Old Testament states that women during menstruation are unclean. Moreover, anyone who touches her, touches her clothes or touches something she touched, is unclean. Even today some orthodox Jews consider menstruating women not Kosher.
Ancient Rome known for its liberal and even devious hedonism was no better when it comes to woman’s nature. Piliny, the author of The Natural History, devotes one separate chapter of his opus magnum to the female menstrual discharge. Although Piliny was considered quite a storyteller even in his times, his opinions somehow reflect Roman viewpoint. He wrote:
If the menstrual discharge coincides with an eclipse of the moon or sun, the evils resulting from it are irremediable; and no less so, when it happens while the moon is in conjunction with the sun; the congress with a woman at such a period being noxious, and attended with fatal effects to the man.
Ladies, beware of menstruating during the full moon! You may accidenatally end up in prison with homicide charges :)
I don’t want to bore you with more examples from Medieval sources that keep repeating the same fearsome story. Let me tell you one thing: all of this quasi-scientific proofs and explanations about the nature of the menstruation were actually documented by… men. Men who probably have never seen what period discharge really looks like. No wonder that this unsatisfied curiosity produced such hilariously colorful myths!
Menotoxins are the toxic chemicals that a menstruating woman exudes though her skin. In the early 20s American pediatrician Béla Schick, famous in the medical world for fighting diphtheria, conducted a series of research that proved the existence of menotoxin. He asked his female maids to do a simple task of putting freshly cut flowers into a vase. The flowers touched by the women on period lasted shorter than the flowers touched by the control group. It may seem silly but the debate on menotoxin lasted until the 70s. Thankfully the researchers agreed that this kind of investigation was not solid enough to prove anything more than a pure coincidence.
We’re lucky to live in the society that’s somehow free from superstition. Even though women on period are not excluded from the society, the menstruation clearly remains a taboo. How often were you accused of being edgy just because you had PMS? Are you sure your male partner knows what the period really looks like?
The reason women struggle with the misconception of their state when menstruating comes from a very simple reason: ignorance. Men think mostly about menstruation as something that makes women feel uncomfortable and in pain, and that restrains from the sexual intercourse. If so, it's more of a sickness than a natural state. You have to admit the logic to this reasoning. Sadly the menstruating part of humanity shares a similar mindset, contributing to all the period taboos.
You see, it all starts with us, women. Mothers don’t educate their sons about how female anatomy works. Sisters hide their tampons in the bathroom’s darkest closet from their brothers. Girlfriends on period shiver from being rejected by their boyfriends. Periods seem to cause too much embarrassment. But there’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about! Having a period is one of things that makes us women. We should accept it and be open about it, unless we want to be called Evil Beavers. Period.