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Let’s talk, Period!

Male voices across the spectrum tell Pooja Prabbhan how imperative it is for new India to acknowledge a woman’s biological truth
Last Updated : 13 September 2020, 05:16 IST

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Menstrual blood — Feeling squeamish already? Well, it’s about time we discuss it. Period. Why, you ask? Because, the collective abhorrence to the monthly biological process comes with its share of consequences on women the world over often pushing scores of women to dodge questions pertaining to menstrual disorders and the lack of adequate and comfortable alternatives during “that time of the month”.

Turns out, there’s a real reason behind the generations-long stigmatisations. And, it’s largely got to do with men not joining the conversation.

Amrish Malvankar
Amrish Malvankar

Silence isn’t the answer

Artist Amrish Malvankar urges men to understand that being emphatic benefits everyone in the long run. Judgements aside, a genuine lack of being accurately informed is what fuels the discomfort every time the ‘period talk’ crops up, opines Kawal Shoor, founder, Womb, who believes that educating oneself is the only way out to stop this mythologically unsupported victimisation.

“Private parts of a human being have been equated with being ‘dirty’ by contemporary Indian history. And bleeding from a private part makes it for many even more abhorrent. As a result, women have been deprived of normal living during these days. Walking into the kitchen, touching the pickle, praying in her own puja room have been culturally barred in this country. Will a man with a bleeding penis suffer the same fate,” asks Kawal, further opining, “This is not an issue that women have chosen for themselves, so how can they be punished, isolated, and victimised for it?”

Dr Gopi Chikkana
Dr Gopi Chikkana

What’s the big deal, really?

The hushed conversations and feigning concerns have branched across different mediums, often pushing women to keep mum about things that matter. But, now is the time to change, aver young folks in the advertising domain. “A research participant left my team shocked (all women) by explaining how she uses safety pins to ensure her three sanitary napkins (worn at the same time) stay secure. For a woman to go that far showed the complete lack of a working solution for heavy flow,” begins Kartik Johari, VP,Marketing & Commerce, of a sanitary napkin brand that recently made headlines with its first campaign on heavy flow pads that shed light on normalising period talk and de-stigmatisation of menstrual blood.

The brand is the first in the country that has chosen to show the colour of blood as red instead of blue in their TV campaign.

Kartik adds that winning for the right to show red in period ads has been a challenging yet rewarding decision, as it opened floodgates for others to follow suit. “We fought through reactionary and close-minded attitudes from men and women, from all sides of the aisle! Even now, when some women accuse us of being opportunistic or vulgar, we become even more motivated to change the perception of menses, from dirty/disgusting to natural/holistic,” he reveals.

Karan Babbar
Karan Babbar

A word of advice

“Listen without judgement if you ever happen to be present during a conversation on period. Consideration is the first step towards a more meaningful and respectful relationship with women,” believes Kartik.

Let’s not treat it like a disease because it really isn’t. Medieval ideologies can only be replaced by real conversations with a great deal of sensitivity, suggest health experts.

“During menstruation, the hormonal changes cause varied psychosomatic symptoms like irritability, cramps, anxiety, fatigue and also depression sometimes. During these times it is very important for men and the family members to be aware and considerate to the lady and support her in every way possible. Let’s not treat it like a disease when it really isn’t,” advises Dr Gopi Chikkanna.

“Talk to women in your family about periods. There are days when they are in excessive pain during the periods. There is a need to involve men in this deeply tabooed topic to remove the stigma around menstruation,” states Karan Babbar, a PhD scholar, inferring how empathy among both men and women is the way forward.

Kartik Johari
Kartik Johari

Build a sense of normalcy

The stigma around menses is largely hyped, and expressing one’s aghast at spotting a period stain or an accidental leak is passé. Empathy and awareness are the way forward, suggests Silawath Irshad, a podcast host for The Growth Mindset Podcast.

“Shaming women for periods is like blaming men for having their own personal parts. Our biology is given to us by nature and it is time we accept this and support women the way they are,” he concludes.

Kawal Shoor
Kawal Shoor

Fun facts about menstruation

From the time of her first cycle to menopause, the average woman will have around 450 periods in her lifetime. That’s close to a decade of periods!

Sustainable sanitary options like menstrual cups and period panties are a lot comfortable than you’ve imagined. Research and reuse!

“That time of the month” can change the way a woman smells and sounds. This is because the female reproductive organ can alter vocal cords and natural scents to a great deal, albeit temporarily.

Despite some months of heavy flow, a woman on an average loses only three tablespoons of blood on her period.

Women are likely to experience acute pain more frequently in the winter months as
compared to the balmy
weather.

(These facts are not of the author or the experts and were collated from helpingwomenperiod.org)

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Published 12 September 2020, 19:07 IST

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