I was 14 years old. I hadn’t started my period yet. My mom and I were at an event and I noticed something fall out of her purse. I saw the man behind her look at it, then immediately look away as if sparing her. I saw that it was a little blue wrapped underwear liner, so picked it up, no big deal, and handed it to my mom.
“Here. You dropped this.”…
She grabbed it quickly and pulled it out of sight. “Oh my gosh, how embarrassing.”
That was my first lesson that you shouldn’t speak of menstruation, or anything related to it, in public.
Fast forward to my own children.
My son was playing with a tampon this morning. I was grabbing one and he saw the bright, beautiful package. I had a choice to make. Take it and “hide” it because periods and menstrual bleeding are taboo and shameful and how dare I submit other people to that awkwardness. Or let him play with it as I do most any other thing because periods and menstrual bleeding are normal and healthy. After all, without our menstrual cycle, that involves bleeding and cramps and “gross stuff,” the human race would cease to exist.
Periods aren’t shameful. They shouldn’t be whispered behind hands that “I can’t. It’s that…you know… Time of month.” We shouldn’t have to whisper that we are on our period. We shouldn’t feel shame or embarrassment. We shouldn’t have to use code words.
We should feel supported, encouraged, and comforted. We should get a day of rest while being fanned and fed grapes off the vine.
My decision to let my son play with a tampon (obviously not used in case that needs to be specified) rather than making it a taboo item will have a huge effect on his mentality about tampons and subsequently, menstruation for the rest of his life. Did I want him to repeat, “oh oops. Here, hide it mom. Other people don’t want to see that.” Or do I want him to defend others saying, “What? It’s just a tampon for when women have periods. It’s not hurting you in any way. You can buy it in a store, you know!”
Only by changing the dialogue about taboos by actually speaking about them in a positive and empowering way, can perspectives start to shift.
I know what my choice is, what will yours be?