It's Time to Smash the Shameful Stigma Around Periods!
It is no secret that people with periods have been taught to be discreet about their periods throughout history. We all remember the old tampon-up-the-sleeve trick in school because, god forbid, someone knew it was that time of the month!
Why does this stigma even exist in the first place? It actually stems from years and years of cultural and sociopolitical beliefs. Since menstruation has been viewed as solely a "women's issue" through most of history, it is associated with all of the negative attitudes and shame that women have often been burdened with.
It is difficult to trace this belief to a particular time or culture. It shows in many different time periods and parts of the world. What we do know is that people who menstruate are met with external and internal shame around their periods. Attitudes and messaging about menstruation often frame it as something "dirty" and "debilitating."
We are all familiar with the narrative that someone on their period is irrational, angry, and even mentally or physically ill. These ideas can lead to the avoidance of menstruating persons, and the silencing of any type of conversation around menstruation.
In early scientific research, there are reports of menstrual blood being "toxic" and having negative effects on crops and nature after coming into contact with a menstruating person. The term "menotoxin" was coined in 1920 by a doctor named Bela Schick, referring to the phenomenon of flowers seeming to wilt faster after being held by a menstruating nurse. This has since been disproved, but the remains of this theory linger in some scientific methods today.
Let's take a look at current period beliefs. We are entering an era of a phenomenon coined the "modern period." In 2015, a viral photo of Kiran Gandhi running a marathon popularized the movement known as "free bleeding." In the photo, Gandhi is running the London marathon with blood staining her pants. The context behind the photo is that in the midst of the marathon she unexpectedly got her period. Instead of stopping and forfeiting, she decided to continue with the blood clearly showing.
(pictured above: Gandhi running the London marathon)
Bold steps like these have sparked global conversations about periods and the way they are viewed. While menstrual stigmas are still very prevalent, more and more people are beginning to rethink the way they approach their own beliefs around menstruation. With society's views slowly shifting, we can hope that menstruating people around the globe will no longer have to hide their menstrual products or feel ashamed when stains or accidental bleeding occurs.
This is a society that everyone at Free Periods cannot wait to be a part of!