I recently had a conversation with a middle school aged boy who is in mid-summer. He had been swimming with others his age that day. I asked how it went and if everyone had fun, “Everyone except for (Insert name). She didn’t swim at all,” he said.
“Oh, why not?” I asked him.
“She was on her period,” came the answer, with a hint of disapproval, “You could tell. The entire time she was cranky.”
This makes me wonder. This makes me concerned.
I, like almost every female on the planet, experience a menstrual cycle. It is not something that we should be ashamed of. It is nature. It cannot be avoided.
We are taught from our very first experience that we are to be somehow ashamed. It is in secret. We hide tampons and maxi pads in secret pockets. We have embarrassment in our voices when we ask others if they have some supplies that we need.
In our own private bathrooms, we are taught to hide our supplies under sinks, and behind cabinet doors.
Why do we do this?
Why do we teach young women to be ashamed?
Why do we teach young boys that there is something to be ashamed of?
A few years ago, I had enough.
I bought a small white basket, and placed it on a shelf, out in the open in my bathroom.
Not under a sink. Not behind a cabinet door.
Any person who happens to use my bathroom will have the opportunity to see that, yes, in fact, I am a female between the ages of puberty and menopause. Shocking, I know.
I want my daughter to understand that there is nothing shameful or that is needed to be secret about having a period.
Even as I am writing this, I find myself questioning what terms should be used.
As the mother of sons, what am I teaching them as well? Am I teaching them to be men who are open, understanding, caring? Or am I teaching them that “women’s issues” are gross and not to be discussed openly?
As I have been thinking about this throughout the week, I have made the decision of what I want to be teaching them. I want my sons to be confident in themselves and able to walk into a store to pick up tampons, maxi pads, chocolate, caramel, midol, and whatever else the women in their lives need or desire.
I am certain they will not enjoy the conversation that is about to take place around our home. At least not at first.
Feminine hygiene products are about to be placed even more in the open, and conversations will be had that they may not like. I do not want my boys to behave like the men of previous generations who could not hear “women talk.”
I want my men to be more secure than that.