Aside from being shamed for experiencing emotion dysregulation and intense emotions I am also shamed for having a period. Many cis women and individuals who have periods, all over the world are taught that having a period is something that should be kept a secret and many who do not experience periods, such as men, are taught it is disgusting. I have seen many articles about the horrible backlash some individuals experience when they publicly talk about their periods such as Rupi Kaur, from Brampton, Ontario who received death threats after she posted a picture on Instagram of a photo series her and her sister, Prabh, took that depict periods. I haven’t even really scratched the surface of this issue. but I want to share an example from the summer where I was told I should have kept quiet when I expressed on Facebook an issue with my period.
It was June or July of this year and to try and save money to move out I decided to finally try the Diva Cup. A Diva Cup is a silicone cup that you insert into the vagina to catch blood. I know a few individuals who use the Diva cup and they have had a good experience. I went to Shopper’s Drugmart and bought a Diva Cup. I believe I inserted it fine but when I went to take it out it took me 30 minutes and the second time, my worst fear happened… I couldn’t get the Diva Cup out. I went to Facebook and asked my Facebook Diva Cup-using-Friends if they had any tips on how to get the Diva Cup out. I received a lot of good suggestions and a conversation about vaginas, periods, and kegels unsued. I ended up having to go to a walk-in clinic to have the Diva Cup removed (I need to always remember that if something is labeled as “rare”, that it will most likely happen to me).
A day or so later I shared this experience with my co-workers, one of which uses a Diva Cup. One co-worker told me that she had seen my posts on Facebook and thought that I should remove them because employers and other potential important people could see them, find them inappropriate and potentially affect something important in my life. I do not remember what I said to her, maybe nothing, but I did start substituting “period” with other physical concerns in my head to see if they would bring about a similar response.
“If anyone has ever broken a bone before can you tell me the best way to get care for it?”
“My nose is really runny, does anyone have suggestions on how to clear it out?”
“I think I’m getting a wart on my foot. Can anyone tell me how to remove it?”
I think you get the picture. Just because my health concern involved period blood and a vagina does not mean I should not have shared about it or thought that something in my life would be at risk because I shared it. How can I be silent about something that I experience every month, that I share with possibly billions of individuals and something that tells me my body is healthy? From my experience, people would rather hear about how I’ve tried to end my life than about my body’s potential to create life because I bleed every month.
I believe the shaming over periods has to stop. There is nothing wrong with having a period and for those who do not get a period for a variety of health reasons it does not make you less than. Cis men, especially, have to stop shying away from periods. Seriously, if you have to, go stand in the “feminine hygiene” section for a bit, buy a pack of tampons or pads for your partner when they have their period, do some laundry that is stained with blood. Get over the fear. I am curious about how many will read this post versus my posts on mental health.
I am glad that there is no shame in my relationship over my period and I do admit there are some things I won’t let B see and I do feel shame around it, not the need for privacy. These are thoughts that I will continue to challenge and he will have to challenge his own as well. I encourage all of you to challenge your thoughts as well. Periods are not bad. Annoying, yes, but not bad.
P.S. I do not want to scare anyone into not trying a Diva Cup. I think it is an amazing idea and is proving to be of great use physically and financially to many individuals with periods.