As a child I was always the curious, the notorious one. Of many childhood memories that I cherish, the memories of my yearly trips to my hometown in Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra as a little girl are the ones that are special. As during one of these trips something happened, that taught me a lot about people and their perception towards a girl who transcends to womanhood.
Vandana, whom I fondly called Vandu, one of my friends I made at Mahabaleshwar, was our neighbor living next to my Grandma’s house. Vandana was 2 years older than me. We got along very well, giggled and played all day long like carefree little girls; she kept me a good company whenever I visited.
But this time when I met her, she was all different and icky. The 12 year old girl in me, did not understand why? Vandu was sitting outside her home and she told me, “Go away, I can’t play with you today. You are not supposed to touch me for these 3-4 days.” I did not understand what Vandu had just said, I nodded along and left. She looked so cranky and upset that I had no intention to disturb her more.
This was my first tryst with the taboos revolving around Menstruation. And I wasn’t aware that time that as I grow up there will be lot many instances and illogical things I will witness around this natural phenomenon.
“Don’t touch a woman in her periods!”
“You are menstruating, you can’t go to the temple……”
“Don’t touch the pickle while in your period.”
“Having sex during periods, will not make you pregnant.”
Some of the above statements (read myths and superstitions) have always baffled me. What was the basis of these statements? Who and what lead people in our society to practice such things? Was there any scientific or logical explanation behind these practices? As I grew up, education, my family and my innate nature to question things around me made me think and be assured of myself as a woman.
NO. My period doesn’t make me IMPURE. The same biological process when renders a baby, the woman becomes a subject of celebration, then why the process otherwise will make a woman impure?
NO. God will not be angry if I pray to him while I am in my periods. God loves his children anyhow, anyway.
In school, during college continuing to my hostel days; I remember me and my friends having different ‘nicknames’ for periods as of course you can’t openly and publicly say that the word ‘period’. So words like “battery down”, “MC”, ‘menses’, ‘time’ etc. were used. I am sure every girl and her group of girlies have their own slang for it.
Mothers and your girlfriends are the first people who give you your lesson 101 on periods. And often the myths, misconceptions (if) they carry are simply passed on.
The only solution to getting over these myths, taboos and shame attached to menstruation is to talk about it openly, to educate females and males scientifically and logically about it, make them understand that it is a natural process, and nothing about is shameful, impure and embarrassing, not even a bit of it. Mothers, Sisters, girlfriends, wives, daughters all menstruate and it’s HEALTHY.
This is the only way the opposite gender will be able to develop empathy and sensitivity towards it. I still remember my otherwise strict dad, adopting a softer approach towards me if he has slightest idea of me being on my period. Men will also understand that, “Why you’re behaving all crazy! Are you PMSing?” is not a very funny dialogue.
Females should be educated and made aware of their bodies, about their menstrual cycle, hygiene and preventive care.
God made us humans and gave us a brain on top of our head, right? Let’s question taboos and myths before we practice them.
Contributed by Krutika Katrat. Krutika, 24, is Co-founder & COO of OoWomaniya.com. The need of reaching out to women with authentic and credible information regarding their health, bodies and preventive care inspired her to start the initiative called OoWomaniya. Loves dreaming, reading, writing, travelling when she is either not spending time with ‘her’ people or working.