This post is about my period.

This post is about my period.

How many guys do you think won’t read this post, simply because I mentioned my period?

Today is International Women’s Day and this entire week I have been completely obsessed with justice for menstruation.

Let me tell you about when I first got my period. I was in grade 5 at the time (11 years old), I remember feeling super hot, and just different, and I could tell something was going on so I threw my hand up in the air and asked if I could go to the bathroom.

I remember the bathroom I was in and the exact stall when I looked down and thought “oh sh*t, this is really happening.” Naturally I had no pads or tampons with me, so I wadded up some toilet paper and went back to class.

I didn’t say a word to my teacher or anyone else.

Then the bell rang for recess. Rather than waiting back to talk to my teacher I very awkwardly and cautiously headed outside with the rest of my class. I remember walking straight ahead, sitting under a tree with my arms wrapped around my legs and just watched the other kids play.

After the bell rang signaling that recess was over and it was time to head back to class, I went back and counted down the minutes until I could go home.

When I got home I went to the bathroom – grabbed one of my moms pads, and hid in the basement watching tv until my mom got home. I remember the look on my my moms face when she got home and found out… she was beaming and ecstatic for me. I instantly started bawling my eyes out.

For many years following I can recall the intense anxiety I felt every time I had my period. Spending what felt like hours in the bathroom at home trying to unwrap pads with such delicacy so that my sisters wouldn’t hear the rip of the adhesive.

Leaning into my bag or purse while at school and stealthily sliding a tampon or pad up my sweater sleeve to sneak it out of the classroom and into the bathroom – and there was no way I was taking my bag or purse with me because then people would know.

Panicking in the bathroom at friends’ houses because they didn’t have a garbage in their washroom and I had no idea how I was going to sneak my garbage out without someone noticing.

Or realizing that I got my period while at a sleepover and lying awake all night staring up at the ceiling and praying that I wouldn’t leak.

Not to mention the constant anxiety over whether a pad was showing and asking friends constantly if I was still “okay”.

When I got a little older – the anxiety seeped into intimate relationships – how the hell am I supposed to say I can’t have sex because it’s “that time of the month”, without actually saying “it’s that time of the month”.

The anxiety came and went every single month. And for the majority of my life I never questioned where that anxiety came from, or even acknowledged the shame that was attached to my own menstruation.

What I know now is that I did not create that shame. And I know that my mom did not create that shame. In fact, I grew up in a home that has always been open (maybe sometimes too open ;)) about bodily functions.

This shame and anxiety came from the world around me.

This shame and anxiety around our periods and everything that goes with it was created, and continues to be perpetuated by a patriarchal society (don’t roll your eyes) that has decided that because the bodily functions of a woman makes BOYS and MEN uncomfortable that we need to make every effort possible to pretend that it’s not happening.

Don’t believe me? Hear me out for a second

Many of the injustices that women have experienced for generations has been based on the assumption that we are less than, simply because we are women. I recall previously reading a paper that talked about how inequality between the genders is deeply rooted in a history that suggests that because women have the ability to bear children and menstruate, they are more closely connected with nature, and men, a product of the higher, civil society are therefore more evolved and of greater superiority.

But, as always with women, there is a dichotomy that suggests that despite our “less evolved physical state” we must refrain, restrain, and act like “ladies”. What does this mean? Hiding everything that comes natural to us including being horny, shitting, burping, farting, and of course, bleeding. Excuse the crass language 😉

Nine out of ten times women have no problem talking about their periods with other females. And I think nine out of ten women would likely agree that their period is not “inappropriate”. We don’t hide our periods because they should be hidden, we hide it because we are taught to… because it makes some people uncomfortable. And gentlemen, let me tell you, each time you make a face, walk away, plug your ears or make jokes, you are reinforcing these ideas.

If you still don’t think our society has a problem with periods, do some research on the feature image for this post (owned by Rupi Kaur) and find out what happened.

Every time we create products that are “easy to hide!” we are teaching girls that their period should be hidden. Every time we whisper about our periods we are teaching girls that their period is inappropriate to talk about. Every time someone makes a face when they hear the word period we are teaching our girls that their natural body is gross. Every time that damn cashier suggests that you should hide your tampons in a bag we are teaching our girls to be embarrassed about their bodies. And every time social media platforms remove a picture like the one Rupi Kaur posted, we are teaching our girls that there is something wrong with our inherent nature.

Now, for a second, I want you to imagine how freeing it would be to not have to hide your period. To speak about it openly. To yell across the office for a tampon. To complain about your cramps. And to not have to hide your period underwear – my god, the FREEDOM!!!

I don’t know about you but I am about ready for change. I don’t care if my talking about my period makes you uncomfortable. Deal with it. I will no longer whisper about my period like its a dirty word. And when I have cramps and you ask me how I feel you are damn well going to hear about it.

Unfortunately, like any change in society, we can’t just flip a switch and expect instant transformation. But here are a few ideas that I think will help create the cultural shift that we need.

Change your language
Nothing will ever change if people are afraid to talk about – let’s stop using terms like “aunt flow”, “that time of the month”, “feminine hygiene products”, and whatever other cutesy or publicly ‘appropriate’ words we use.

Let’s call it what it is. I’m bleeding and I need a tampon. Boom.

Stop hiding it
If you don’t need a bag when you are purchasing, let the cashier know (it’s better for the environment anyways).

Stop sneaking tampons/pads or trying to hide them – carry them proudly! We will hide our tampons NO MORE!

Start talking about it
Let’s just all agree that we don’t have to whisper about it just because a guy is around.

*WARNING – STEREOTYPE AHEAD*

If guys can talk about shitting, farting, burping, and other bodily functions, I think they can handle a little period talk.

Talk to your daughters about it… our school systems are starting to catch up but we need to make sure that our girls aren’t feeling scared, embarrassed or ashamed of their bodies. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs a moon party (although I feel like I want to throw a belated one for me and my best friends…how awesome) but make sure that they know that their body is something to be proud of.

Talk to your sons about it. Normalize it. Because it is just that, normal. Teach them not to fear the tampon.

And guys – please stop making faces. It’s very unbecoming of you.

Just talk about it.

I’m not saying you need to scream from the rooftops about how much you love your period – I remember one of my friends being over the moon about it and singing about “becoming a woman” – if that’s your jam then go for it. But if you’re like me, and you don’t really feel like being all lovey-dovey about the beast trying to tear you from the inside out every month, then don’t. But respect the power of that beast, and be proud of what your body is capable of (regardless of how you choose to use it).

And last but not least, own it.
I am proud of being a woman. I am proud of my body. I am proud of every woman’s capability to create and nurture life.

My blood, is recognition of that.

And I am proud to say that despite the power and truth in the above statements, my period does not define who I am.

I am not my period. But I do menstruate. And you better believe I will scream that from the rooftops, because I am owning this part of me, and I hope you will to.


And to the guys out there reading this, I’m not about to leave you behind. Take a vow, right now, that you will never, ever, fear the tampon again.

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20 thoughts on “This post is about my period.

  1. Jennifer says:

    I am SO in love with this post!! I can relate to everything you’re talking about!!
    I didn’t get my period until I was 16, almost 17. I felt ashamed because I couldnt relate to other women my age.
    I use to hide my tampons up my sleeve as well. Now I just say ‘fuck it’, so what if I’m on my period, so what if I want to eat 2 bags of sour cream and onion chips and be satisfied after…
    Although it has taken me 26 years to get here, I love my body! Every aspect!
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    P.s. Send this to Rachel at Here for Her!!

    Like

    • SiennaJae says:

      Wow thank you for your vulnerability and truth! It’s incredible how unique each of our stories are and it’s amazing hearing from people about their experiences. So happy to hear that you feel that sense of confidence. It’s freeing! And I will definitely do that… need to get myself a period shirt while I’m at it 😉

      Like

  2. Kristin says:

    Love this sienna! Also, no more planning vacations or recreational activities around your period! Go swimming, go running, do yoga! Don’t let your period and other people’s perceptions of your period stop you from living life. Unless your period is kicking your ass, then feel free to bail, stay home and eat ice cream. No judgements.

    Like

    • SiennaJae says:

      YES you are totally right! We really should just be doing what we need to do… whether that’s exactly the same things you normally would, or pausing and having a “me” day.

      Like

  3. Bri Ollre says:

    Yes yes yes! Another thing I’d say, is that more places should carry FREE tampons/pads (ex: offices). Because my current office doesn’t have free ones, they make us buy them out of one of those shitty dime operated machines in the bathroom when our periods show up early. It makes me so angry that we still have to pay for pads/tampons.

    Like

  4. Jillian Baker says:

    Sienna!

    Amazing work! I love reading things like these because I have also been curious about where that seemingly inherent shame associated with out periods stems from. Interestingly, I became keenly aware of how I really felt about my period and the Way it is perceieved by others when I started dating someone who was just–chill about it. That shouldn’t be an anomaly, but it is.
    It was odd to me that this person’s opinion was that a) of course I get my period and b) it isn’t anything to me ashamed of (or particularly worth rescheduling our sex life around haha). But having that openness, and having a partner who asks questions about my period instead of just immediately cringing or receding into themselves when I mention what is happening with my body was a real eye opener to me!

    I love all of your suggestions, and would add that for myself, it has been important to acknowledge and all of the things outside of actually bleeding that come part and parcel with my period (ie. emotional effects, eating habits, waning enthusiasm, low energy etc). It’s okay to accept that we have limitations during this time every month, it’s okay to push through them, but it’s also okay to just give yourself a break! Menstruation (And Be i would add, existing as a professional woman out in the world) can be hard work!

    So proud of you for sticking with writing and sharing your wisdom. Thanks, girl ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • SiennaJae says:

      YES YES YES! I’m so happy that you’re reflecting on everything that surrounds our periods. PMS is another important topic to unfold and explore… there are so many assumptions and negative associations which absolutely impact us in our external, everyday lives. I can’t wait to explore that further. You rock! Thank you for all YOU do to change the world 😉

      Like

  5. James Shelley says:

    Great post, Sienna. I think calling out male awkwardness about menustration is critical, and the ‘stereotype’ you point out of boys/men joking about their own bodily functions while being scandalized by women’s periods highlights Simone de Beauvoir’s point that great ‘feat’ of the patriarchy is a culture where men are understood to ‘transcend’ their bodies while woman are trained to be subservient to physiology. Awesome post! Keep up the stellar blogging!

    Like

    • SiennaJae says:

      YES YES YES – This is a beast of a topic in itself. It really makes me reflect on the way even I react to the people in my world who are open and vocal about all sorts of bodily functions – and maybe this “impolite” and “UNLADYLIKE” behaviour is just what we need to force the conversation and shift the culture. I am adding Simone to my must read list. Thanks for reading AND reflecting James!

      Like

  6. Melanie Ruse says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story of your experience with your period — and with such candor and honesty. Our culture definitely needs a lot of changes and you’ve really illustrated that with this topic. I was wondering if you have you read “The Rent Tent” yet?

    Like

  7. Greg O. says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I really appreciate the perspective and learned a lot. I will definitely consider your words & experiences when speaking with my daughter as she begins this journey. Period.

    Liked by 1 person

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