Something bothers me greatly about all the pseudonyms people use for the word “period”. I’ve found that many women, more stereotypically the older ones, won’t just come out and say, “I’m on my period”, they’ll say quainter things such as, “Its my time of the month”, “I’ve come on”, or somewhat weirdly, “I’m on ‘the blob'”. I must admit, I’m no different sometimes and the title of this piece now becomes a bit ironic too. Similarly the word, “vagina”, has it’s own aray of pseudonyms. Reading ‘The Vagina Monologues’, by Eve Ensler when I was younger, and then returning to it briefly this year for one of my uni modules, I was reminded of just how many ‘other’ words there are that people use. Whatever you’re comfortable with I guess.
However, vaginas and periods are normal. Anyone who was stamped with the letter “F” upon their birth will be expected to join the not-so-secret secret club of everything vagina at some stage. People worried about me when I was late to join the group, even when I did they still worried because I wasn’t a regular attendee, unlike the rest of the women in my family who been monthly members from early on.
The thing that put me on this thought track, and thus inspired this piece, is that the news articles I’ve been reading lately. Usually I try to avoid anything to do with the news because it’s the same rhythm of messed-up politics. But a few articles caught my eye; it turns out that in the UK young girls can’t afford sanitary products. It didn’t shock or surprise me, just made me feel sad and a little angry if I’m honest with you.
I’ve recently read articles by The Gardian with reports from teachers, and interview with the girls themselves where it’s been said that their attendance drops because they can’t afford sanitary items so have to stay home from school. Now, for those of you who want to say they should make do and go in, one girl said shes even used rolled up tissues to be able to attend. From personal experience I can tell you tha tissue roll is THE WORST.
During my irregular membership days I often resorted to wads of tissue when I was desperate. It sticks and clumps and makes you sweat and is just damn well uncomfortable, plus you’re even more paranoid people can tell you’re on your period. I was fortunate enough to be able to go home at the end of the school day and tell my mum who’d then suply me with ample sanitary products so I wouldn’t have to rely on tissues again. Sadly, it seems that these girls can’t do that due to a variety of reasons, including the fact that their families simply can’t afford it.
This immediately reminded me of the ludicrousy of the ‘luxury tax’ on sanitary products. Let me tell you, it’s in no way ‘luxurious’ to have a period. The pain women experince varies, the flow and the colour vary and all of the other symptoms too. The reaction to periods themselves vary as well. There’s no avoiding the fact that periods are messy and painful and scary when they come and scary when they don’t come and even scary when they stop altogether.
Periods are not a ‘luxury’or an excuse or anything like that. They’re biology. One of the simplest parts of what makes use female. So why do people use pseudonyms to talk about their vaginas and periods? Why are young girls struggling to come to school because sanitary products are unaffordable? It just doesn’t seems fair or right in this seemingly modern and liberated era.
If you are interested in the articles, check out: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/17/girls-from-poorer-families-in-england-struggle-to-afford-sanitary-protection