Societal disgust with menstruation unfair


Julia Schaller

Photo by Daphne Yu
Photo by Daphne Yu
The other day in math class, I watched as my friend rummaged through her purse, grabbed what she had been searching for, glanced around to make sure no one was looking and slyly slid it up the sleeve of her jacket.As she headed for the bathroom, still cautious of potential watchers, one question consumed my mind. Why? I thought about what I would do, and I realized that I probably would have done the same. But it’s not right. My friend shouldn’t have to be stealthy about bringing a tampon with her to the bathroom. And she really shouldn’t have to ensconce the fact that she’s going to use a tampon or even that she’s on her menstrual cycle. None of this should be a big deal.
A woman having to be secretive about her period is a big deal, though. I’ve experienced the total embarrassment of having to ask someone else for a tampon when my period has come unexpectedly or the shame of a pad accidentally falling out of my backpack for all the world to see.
Once puberty hits, women learn what it’s like to have to use tampons; men, though, will never know the feeling. Women using tampons is similar to asking for toilet paper, a stressor fitting for both sexes: they go to the bathroom, look down and, in total distress, find a distinct lack of wiping parchment.
At this point, no one would want to ask a total stranger or even an acquaintance for the toilet paper, but it’s either that or nothing. In that terrible awkward situation, one would have to crouch over and ask the nearest passerby if he or she might go into the next stall and fetch a roll for them.
Asking for a tampon should be a breeze, though, because most of the time it’s a request one can make before going to the bathroom. But even if someone discovers they need one once they’re in the stall, it shouldn’t have to be as uncomfortable as it is. The needs for toilet paper and tampons alike are natural functions of our bodies, and the products we use are necessary for them. A girl’s first period can be a traumatic event. I first got mine when I was in middle school and freaked out. I thought my world was collapsing around me because I’d have to deal with the hassle of using pads and tampons, and I’d been raised getting the idea that menstruation was a unfathomably gross and horrid thing.
Instead of making it easy on young girls who are menstruating for the first time by showing them that it’s a normal part of every woman’s life, the media goes around disturbing the masses of people, especially men, causing girls to feel ashamed of their bodily functions. Society these days has made periods to be a private matter, but the truth is, it’s not.
According to, a researcher from the University of Melbourne found more than 200 scenes from various movies since the 1970s all having to do with menstruation. These television shows and films ranged from “Mad Men” to “Annie Hall.” The researcher found that all the scenes put menstruation in a negative light.
One of the film scenes found in this study was from the horror novel “Carrie” and its movie adaptation. The famous menstruation scene is of a girl who is aghast about her period and is clueless about it. The scene depicts the girl’s period releasing her telekinetic powers and she turns maleficent. The scene portrays a woman’s menstruation to be the catalyst of all things bad and evil.
Women don’t always turn into the devil when they get their period or are going to get it in the near future. said most women have premenstrual symptoms in some form during phase two of the menstrual cycle. The site said during this time, women may gain emotional symptoms, such as feeling angry, irritable, depressed or anxious.
Contrary to what actually happens, pop culture today delineates a woman’s period to be appalling and horrifying, and a woman on her period representing death and mourning.
I see the media taking hold of people — men especially — in my everyday life, and it gives periods a bad reputation. A few days ago, at lunch I started talking about my period openly, as usual, and I got the same response from my guy friends that I always do. Their cheeks flushed as they took turns telling me I was disgusting, gross and awkward and that they didn’t want to hear about “that… stuff.”
I don’t understand why it was such a big deal to them. A girl has a period about 10 percent of her life. We have to wear tampons or pads monthly. The fact that women are socially hushed for talking about the use of tampons or the heaviness of their menstrual flow is not right because that’s how women were made. It’s not like most women can change the fact that they will get their period, not to mention the fact that at some point in those boys’ lives, they might date a girl for a long period (no pun intended) of time or even get married to a woman, and they’re inevitably going to deal with said woman and her menstrual cycle.
Periods, tampons, cramps and anything else associated with a woman’s menstruation shouldn’t be a subject looked down upon in society. Any bodily function that happens to all people should be a topic in everyday life because it’s all a beautiful part of human biology.
So let’s be confident. I will no longer sneak tampons into my sleeve when I need to take it to the bathroom, and if you’re a woman, neither should you.
Men shouldn’t care if a girl is on her period because probably at least one woman they come in contact with throughout their day is. Open up the topic of menstruation if need be and make women feel comfortable with publicly discussing their cramping pains. Women should be proud of their bodies and embrace what goes on inside them, without being ashamed or discouraged.
Menstruation is a natural process. Period.
By Julia Schaller