“That time of the Month?”

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.

4 thoughts on ““That time of the Month?”

  1. Beautiful article. Would like to add something that my grandfather who was a self learned man, knew a lot about the human behaviour. And he had reasoned it out that “that time of the month’ was mainly for the woman of my grand mothers’ time a ‘resting time’. Given the facts that in the olden days a woman was confined to the house, her duties or chores included giving birth to as many babies, to cook all the meals (No fast food stores were around) and every Sunday while Christians went to the Church, Muslims to the Mosques, the whole Khandan that is all married daughters with their entourage came to their pekka (parents’) home for Curry Chawal (curry & rice) and bundi laddus (sweet ladoos) etc., which was prepared by the daughters-in-law of the house, when does a woman get a break? So that time of the month, say at least 3 days, she was kept away in sort of exile, untouchable. But the real advantage to this was that it gave the woman a little getaway time, where she could be by herself, think for herself and gave a little peace from the politics of the household.
    Having put in my little understanding, I am glad we are in different times where it is no more considered as a disease, discomfort yes. And we have new ways of dealing with it, like sanitary pads and tampons and go about our lives as normal as we could. Thank you Jaya, enjoyed reading that article and like you said to accept boldly the facts of life.

    • Thank you! I think it is a valid observation to make about “having a break” – I find that a role that is centered around a large family only gets harder on the weekend and that’s supposed to be a restful time for everyone, not just those that “work” from Mon-Fri – its a shame that over the years, our intentions (which are fundamentally good) are misinterpreted and so being excused or given respite is recognised as prohibition.

      In any case, I encourage open debate at home and I can only hope that others will do the same!

  2. Jaya this is a very valid point you make and a thought that’s always on my mind when I perform any rituals…. post marriage. As I have not grown up with that thought but was aware of it, and only came in to an environment that enforced this after I got married. It would upset me and I hid the fact that I was ‘on’ as I did not think it was right to be ostracised for the one function of our body which actually enables us to have babies.. I could not believe it was a bad thing to be ‘on’. I did speak to some spiritual leaders when I was on a retreat. Their explanation was simply that when you do meditate or perform certain rituals that are meant to have a powerful affect, your body is already weak on it’s resources during your period and these powerful energies can have a negative impact on your mind and body when you are in that ‘delicate’ time. I still however think that with Anisha’s experience, unfortunately, it is still an archaic belief that a woman is ‘unclean’ which is a result of lack of education and awareness. My mother used to say that women were kept away from daily chores for a few days just to give their bodies a rest.

  3. I loved Anisha’s article, especially coming from an 18 year old. It really needed to be said…there is far too much taboo surrounding your period in India. What if you happen to have your period during your wedding, would you call off the wedding?! Generally (sadly) most things in India are double standards though!

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