I was at Pilates, again. On this particular Saturday, the Studio was packed. There were two women chatting together, quite audibly (I was not eavesdropping) about how exhausted they felt and one of them sighed and remarked, “Well, I always feel like this when there is a Full Moon, I’ve noticed that about myself.”
Now, maybe I misheard her but it did get me thinking. We as women have always talked about the mood swings, the physical pain and fatigue and the generally rubbish-like feeling that we feel during that time of the month but I’ve not heard about this time, the Full Moon, ever given as an explanation before. While my logical internal voice was thinking about the possible scientific reasons for her observation, my other more cynical internal voice decoded, “maybe she was just saying that but what she really meant was that she was having a bad period week?”
As these two internal voices continue to verbally arm-wrestle, my external voice ponders about how women today, including myself, perceive the “chum” as my Mum positively introduced it to me, many years ago. I always thought my monthly bleed was a nuisance but something one could use to an advantage; it was a “get out of swimming” card for many of us at school. I even recall more recently, attending a family funeral and noticing my cousin’s absence, I sought her out only to find her curled up at the top of the stairs, clutching her mobile, mouthing to me that she was (winking) “on” so she wasn’t to attend the prayers below.
I know that by using a normal, biological, monthly occurrence as an excuse, we are probably propagating the notion that women are the delicate sex but the fact is that most women will experience some inconvenience or discomfort during their period and I don’t think we should be ashamed to talk about it. On the contrary, we should and do exercise our right to complain (!) but then we move on.
I read an article about Heather Watson’s explanation for defeat due to “girl things” at the Australian Open. The article suggested that talking about menstruation might set women back in the world of sport but acknowledged that she had every right to point at her period as a reason for under-performing and that maybe more athletes will feel free to do the same from hereon, when relevant.
On the same day, I also came across an article written by an 18 year old girl in India about how fed up she was by the “taboo” label attached to this subject matter. She wrote about how women in India are still prohibited today from participating in normal activities when they have their period and how this is “archaic”. I agree with her (and we all know that this doesn’t just happen in India). However, I had hoped that she would gently acknowledge how and why traditional ideas and beliefs in India evolved: in yesterday’s India and the world, there was relatively no access to good feminine hygiene products and education and so fear and ignorance determined behaviour and bias.
There is little excuse for this cultural cover-up today and for future generations of women, open recognition and discussion of a menstrual period for what it is, plain and simple, should negate the negativity in time. So let that time start now.