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I got my period when I was in eighth grade. I was the last of my friends to get it — sort of a late a bloomer I suppose. But I, like the rest of my friends, had learned about all this bloody stuff at age 10. We had all been sat down to talk about periods at one point. Someone close would explain why blood would one day come out of our vaginas. I know what you’re thinking: “Ew,” “Gross,” “I’m going to stop reading this now,” “What’s a vagina?” and so on. Well, before you move away from the page, picture yourself as the scared twelve-year-old who thought she shit her pants, or think of a female friend of yours who may have had the same experience.
So basically women get their periods when our ovaries do a little dance and the ultimate purpose of the whole thing is to have babies. Right on. No need for the sex ed lesson, I know we’ve already suffered through those painfully awkward chats with a school administrator. What I want to talk about is what we as a society have done to manipulate this natural happening into something harmful and embarrassing for women — and men.
The human race is incredibly diverse, but I believe there is something we share: emotions. While we feel things uniquely, we ultimately all feel them. A song comes on and you know that you were meant to sing it, or that something in your gut says TURN IT UP or TURN IT OFF. It’s a feeling — a reaction. We have all been cut down, buried and beaten. We have all felt glee, success and triumph. Between those commas are moments of humiliation, sadness, heartache, blessing, pride and every emotion in between. Sometimes we feel a certain way for no particular reason. Sometimes you just cry and sometimes you’re obnoxiously happy.
We’ve all been there. If we all sympathize with these emotions, then how come we can’t stop cutting each other down for feeling them?
All my ladies: how many times have you been asked if you are stressing because you’re “on your period”?
Gentleman: has a woman ever persecuted you for being difficult, until she proclaimed that you were probably just “on your period”?
First off, when a woman is truly on her period, hormones are raging. Take it up with my uterus, not me. Second, if you’re interested in eventual procreation, zip it. Show a little gratitude — the mystical period is life’s secret ingredient! It’s a wonderfully wonderful part of the human body! It’s miraculous! How about a little appreciation instead of a diss? Third (and last for now), sometimes I’m expressive. Nice to meet you, human.
Funny when you realize that women have been menstruating for all of time, and yet we still tiptoe around the word tampon. But hey, I don’t judge society for how we were raised. I remember hearing the rumors at school about who had gotten their period in fifth grade, and learning who still hadn’t by twelfth. For some strange reason, the whole period concept has been taught to be a hush-hush thing. It makes us so uncomfortable, but we are reinforcing this discomfort. Think about it: Girls and boys were taught about periods and wet dreams in their respective gender binaries. Not like that stopped anyone from giggling, but this was supposed to make thing “easier.”
Eventually periods become a bonding point for girls, but “I’m on my period” remains a terrifying phrase for many men to digest.
So women found a way to deflect this negativity: give men “periods.”
I can remember asking my mom “What’s wrong with daddy?” when he wasn’t as vibrant as usual, and her replying, “He’s just getting his period.” There is something funny about this impossibility — but why? Why do we expect men to behave less emotionally than women, and why are we disappointed when they do reveal that they too are emotional beings?
Every emotion is not only legitimate and true, but also an opportunity for understanding. Human beings are indeed emotional and that includes men. Men usually tend to process their emotions inwardly — they try to figure it out in their own heads. Some men are afraid of their emotions and hide them in order to protect themselves from looking weak. But this doesn’t mean that men have less emotions, or that they should be criticized for showing them. Perhaps change is not vested in one family’s conversation, but I wonder if my perception of male emotion may have been slightly more open-minded had my mom told me that “sometimes daddy gets frustrated/tired/sad/mad.”
Being human is tough enough. Growing up is complicated. Gender is a serious struggle. We don’t have to make it harder for each other by stigmatizing a sign of feminine health and fertility.
Change is fluid and we all have the possibility to contribute to it positively. We are the social society making these calls about what makes another weak. We all feel and struggle. We have the opportunity every day to appreciate what makes us special, even when we’re emotional. For the ladies out there — this should be true even when we’re on our periods.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Dani Pinkus at email@example.com.