The Menstruation Station Blogaround

8 Mar

Happy International Women’s Day! Ready to talk about periods?

From The F-Word: A tiny rant on XKCD.

From Rotten Little Girls: Emotional symptoms associated with periods are oftentimes utter bullshit.

From Womanist Musings (who posts regularly about menstruation): Guest post by Holly of Menstrual Poetry (great blog-name!) encouraging open conversation about periods.

From Bitch Ph.D: Men don’t wanna hear about icky stuff! and Shame! Shame! Shame!

From The Pursuit of Harpyness: Women who love to talk about their periods (the comment thread is excellent as well).

From Gender Goggles: The taboo of talking about periods and the inherent sexism that goes into that.

If you have any more links (self-promote if you like!), leave them in comments.

And because so many of the posts I just linked are about opening the lines of communication on menstruation and reclaiming it from its taboo, I’ll share a bit of personal period history.

I got my first period the summer before I turned 13. My mom and I were visiting her sisters and mother in Tennessee, and I went to the bathroom during supper. My mom and I had talked about periods before, so I knew why my underpants were all bloody. So I washed my hands and went back to the table. About half an hour later, everybody but my mom and me left to go do something, so that’s when I said, “Mom, I started my period.” So I was outfitted with pads and tampons from a local drug store, and given a lesson in application of both. She wouldn’t have bothered with tampons, but I wanted to go swimming as my aunt had just installed a pool in the back yard.

A few months later (late September 2001, to give some perspective), I had been bleeding onto my sheets and clothes, and apparently feeling insecure about it. Because my parents and I were out to eat, when my father told me that we needed to talk as a family. My mom silenced him with a “not here.” So for the ten minutes it took to pay and get to the car, I was in an anxious panic, wondering what they expected me to do about all the blood on my sheets. It, as is probably obvious to you, had nothing to do with my period. My parents were separating. My father was moving into an apartment across town. And that moment is inextricably linked to my period and the insecurity that being an almost-teenager gave me.

I don’t remember my periods in high school, other than one where I had pretty bad cramps and was sick at the same time, and feeling like I needed to tell someone, but being too overburdened with the shame and taboo of menstruation to be able to.

At some point my first year of college (which was also my senior year of high school), I learned about menstrual cups. I spent several weeks researching, then forgot about it because I had no way of paying for it. Right around the same time, the event I cited in comments on the Gender Goggles post (linked above) happened.

The first period story coming to mind was a couple of years ago. I was on a school trip (community college, so at 17-18 I was the youngest person). Out of 8 people, 7 of us were 20s or younger, and 2 were male. The older person was a woman, about mid-fifties. Somehow, the subject got onto menstruation, and the older woman got upset that we were talking of such things “in mixed company.” Pretty much everyone was on the “WTF? Men can’t hear about periods?” front when we conferred after getting off the bus, but still, it bothers me that periods are so contentious and verboten that anybody believes men’s dainty ears can’t handle the word menstruation.

I was sinking into moderate depression, so my mom decided I should go stay with her sister (the aunt with the pool mentioned above) for the summer. I made plans to buy the Diva Cup before the trip, but that didn’t happen. On the drive up there, I got my period. And I hadn’t packed any pads. So,I bled into some toilet paper until I got a tampon from another of my aunts, and drove to Walmart (*shudder* I hate Walmart, but this is small-town America) the next morning to buy some pads. At some point in the summer, my grandmother bought me some pads because she wanted to make sure I was okay for things to protect my clothing (which was sweet, because acknowledging the fact that I have a period was a big step for her – she still doesn’t know how much I know about s-e-x). A few uneventful months passed (in terms of menstruation, at least), and in November 2007, I got my Divacup. In the middle of my period, so it had to sit on the shelf until my next cycle began (I have reason to believe this was the cycle that broke my hymen-ow). But once I got past the learning curve, the Divacup has been wonderful. I have trouble remembering I’m on my period when it’s in, and my cramps seem to have lessened since I began using it (correlation =/= causation and all that jazz, but it’s still nice to not need to curl into a fetal position every time I get my period).

And then, my periods got really irregular. I would have a 25 day cycle, then a 14 day cycle, then a 35 day cycle. This continued for a while, and finally it pushed me to go to the gynecologist. He tested my hormone levels, to check for PCOS and thyroid problems, which came back negative. The gynecologist recommended hormonal birth control if it was bothering me (it wasn’t), so now I have irregular periods with no apparent cause.

Which brings me to today, on the tail end of my period and writing this blog-post on March 8, 2009, International Women’s Day.

Titty-wrap hugs,

niema

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One Response to “The Menstruation Station Blogaround”

  1. eloriane March 8, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    Hey, thanks for the link love! This has been a really fascinating conversation to watch, as it sort of makes its way through the feminist blogosphere… thanks for sharing your story, and providing such a good round-up of links!

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