Menstruation often a taboo topic — even today

Gabriella Backus, Artistic Editor

Complaining “I’m on my period,” will usually elicit some type of comforting reassurance from women. All women know, however, that addressing such a taboo topic will undoubtedly make men wrinkle their nose in disgust.

Menstruation is a woman’s monthly bleeding. Each month, if a woman is not impregnated, her body sheds the unnecessary lining of the uterus that grew in anticipation of an egg.

From a young age, typically between 10 to 15, to menopause, women will experience what is for some a hell unlike any other, accompanied by painful symptoms: abdominal cramps, bloating, headaches and moodiness.

“My period is a mess,” sophomore Emily Watson said. “It makes my stomach hurt, and I feel tired and bloated all the time.”

In developed countries, discussing periods is typically taboo: men don’t want to hear about it, and women aren’t willing to speak up.

“It’s pretty personal,” history teacher Johnathan Clemons said. “People don’t like to talk about that stuff. It’s something half the population can’t relate to.”

During middle, high school, or even college, female students are often teased or bullied for symptoms they cannot control. Many young men crack insulting jokes about some females’ monthly moodiness, accusing any girl who acts out negatively as “being on their period,” much to girls’ dismay.

“It makes me angry that when guys hear something they don’t want to hear from a girl they try to embarrass her and blame it on her period,” Watson said.

Not only do some guys freak out over the mention of menstruation, they do not wish to hear about menstruation products.

“They’re disgusting,” sophomore Jafari Binder said. “I have four sisters…it’s gross.”

Women may feel the topic should become less ridden with tension, but the forced confidentiality of periods has eased over the years.

It’s uncertain whether ancient women actually used some type of woven-fiber pad, an early version of a tampon, or went natural. However, the first recorded creation of the modern pad arose during World War I, when field nurses began to stuff wood-fiber field bandages down their pants and found it surprisingly effective. Tampons grew popular after American osteopath Dr. Earle Haas created the “applicated tampon” in 1929.

During the Middles Ages in Europe, many believed that because Eve was thought to have disobeyed God, she had in turn received monthly cramping to remind her of her Original Sin. The Catholic Church reinforced the public’s general suspicion towards menstruating women, who were forced to go out of their way to hide it: women carried scented flowers to mask the smell and nuns ate iron-deficient diets to allow their body to revert back to “divine grace.”

Many cultures in less developed countries still believe periods are shameful. Because of this group mentality, necessities are often not made available to women.

“My mom is living in Cambodia right now and the country is kind of poor, so they didn’t have any pads and stuff for her,” sophomore Sarah Bun said. “Cambodia is getting better, but they definitely have it worse than we do.”

Perhaps women who wish to normalize periods in the eyes of the public should try to raise awareness on the stigma surrounding periods in the United States and in less developed cultures.