I was pleasantly surprised and cautiously optimistic when I caught sight of the cover of this week’s edition of Newsweek. I don’t read Newsweek regularly, but obviously this got my attention.
It’s honestly a bit discombobulating, to see this kind of coverage.
I’m elated to see menstruation and periods getting so much public attention, and so much positive attention of late.
But there’s also a lot of misinformation, subtle (& overt) shaming, and even pseudo-period positivity for profit out there, so I read with a fair amount of skepticism.
And while a quick scroll through the comments on social media reveal a range responses: celebratory, misogynistic, and those riled up that they didn’t go far enough, I have to say I was pretty impressed.
When it comes right down to it, this article wasn’t written for me. Maybe not for you either.
It was written for a huge audience, and I’m delighted it will be read by so many who will be learning about some these issues for the very first time.
In the opening paragraph, author Abigail Jones goes so far as to say “This process is as natural as eating, drinking and sleeping, and it’s beautiful too: There’s no human race without it.” And I didn’t expect to read that.
Highlighting the stigma and shame that those who menstruate are faced with worldwide is very useful and relevant information for the mainstream.
Even though I do take some issue with certain omissions and the overall emphasis, I sincerely appreciate the coverage. Chis Bobel, President of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, even gets quoted several times!
Mentioned are Rupi Kaur’s banned self-portrait, the needs of those in prison and those who can’t afford “menstrual materials,” the very real health and environmental costs associated with conventional tampons and pads, the vast number of women and girls ESPECIALLY in the Global South who are ostracized, without resources, and face severe taboos and stigmas
A lot was covered. A lot was not. It’s a big topic, and they couldn’t have fit everything. A few things I wish had been addressed:
It’s odd not to see women listed amongst the top things affected by period stigma in the subtitle. Though, it’s interesting to see it framed this way, the article does address those topics.
Cups and reusables are only briefly mentioned, I wish they would gotten more attention with regards to environmental and health benefits. And while we do need to get people access to products, it would be wise to think critically about which products and how we can be more sustainable about it.
Also, maybe this is too nerdy, but the opening sentence was awkward for me aesthetically, and then didn’t feel completely accurate,
“Let’s begin with the obvious: Every woman in the history of humanity has or had a period.”
It’s true that the vast majority of those who menstruate are women (and girls), some women and girls (for various reasons) never have had or will have a period, and some who are not women and/or girls, will. And in a time when we’re kind of re-learning gender and sex, that more inclusive language could be used. Or at least the fact addressed. Even the word nearly, in front of every. And I get that it’s qualifying. So there’s that.
And I would love to see more talk about the benefits to young girls in educating them and preparing them for coming-of-age, resources for doing so (and the value of ritual and ceremony in that process – but I’m not holding my breath!).
There’s more I didn’t love and I could pick it apart further, but honestly, I’d rather you actually read it for yourself.
Our society does need to get over our fear of periods.
We need to let go of our fear of bodies and fluids, empowered women, body literacy, sex, pleasure, self-determination, autonomy, and all the other fears that keep us from being whoever we are.
Yes, there will be blood.
This piece is bound to make a positive impact. Transforming the culture is a complex unfolding. And one cover story won’t do it. Continuing this conversation is crucial.
Periods getting this kind of attention in mainstream media would not have been possible without the tireless work of countless activists, educators, advocates, researches, and ordinary women and people destigmatizing and normalizing menstruation, body literacy, women’s bodies, sexuality, fertility, and all those other juicy topics that make us whole.
One (news) cycle at a time, we are making progress.
As Lara Owen, author of Her Blood Is Gold, said yesterday,
“38 years since The Wise Wound, 25 years since Dragontime, 23 years since Her Blood Is Gold: Awakening to the Wisdom of Menstruation, and since then many others. So grateful to everyone who has contributed to hauling this abusive and absurd taboo out into the light and transforming it into health and resilience”
And in reference to the article not going far enough, “As we know too well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Have a read, and let me know what you think!