(My) menstrual blood is gross (to me)

I’m not ashamed to menstruate. It’s a thing that happens to a lot of women, and it’s not a commentary on our character — just on the contents (or lack thereof) of our uterus.

I’m not afraid of menstrual blood — particularly my own, since I know I don’t have Ebola or any other kind of bloodborne pathogen that would make it a threat to me. And if I did, handling a tampon would be the least of my concerns.

But menstrual blood, to me, is gross, in the same way that any other bodily fluid is gross. It’s something that has been hanging out, perfectly happy, on the inside of me until suddenly it gets some wild ambition to see the world and I’m stuck making an unexpected detour to the loo. I don’t let any of my other fluids get away with such behavior, and I don’t see why I should have to make an exception for menstrual blood, just because it was hanging out in my uterus beforehand rather than my blood vessels or my sinuses.

There’s a sense among some women, though, that menstrual blood should be seen and treated differently. Specially. Reverently. Ingrid Johnston-Robledo, president of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, blames tampon makers for pushing anti-menstruation hysteria and says that a woman who is truly comfortable with her body wouldn’t use one — that she’d be “more likely to use products where you really have to look at and interact with your fluid as opposed to clogging your body with a tampon and just tossing it into the toilet.”

Not wanting to “interact” with my bodily fluids doesn’t mean I’m uncomfortable with my body — it means I don’t like slippery, gooey, smelly things. I don’t eat beef aspic, either, and no one accuses me of being uncomfortable with my digestive processes. But there’s this magical thinking about menstrual blood that because it’s connected to womanhood and fertility and nature that it should hold some special place in my heart and that I should gaze into my maxi pad and thank it for its service before wrapping it up in toilet paper and throwing it away.

Ahem.

1, The essentialist association of menstruation with womanhood is in and of itself problematic, because it assumes that all women menstruate and that only women menstruate. While it’s easy to tell the tween who just got her first period that she’s “becoming a woman,” few people would similarly tell a postmenopausal woman that she’s no longer a woman. Non-menstruating women, whether because of menopause or hysterectomy or never having had a uterus or a dozen other reasons, remain women. Though, as I note above, I’m not afraid or ashamed of menstruating, it’s not actually something I do anymore — since I got a hormone-releasing IUD, my periods, if any, are few and far between. Does that make me any less of a woman than I was four years ago, right before I got the IUD in? When, immediately after that, I spotted for six weeks straight, did that make me more womanly because of the duration, or less womanly because it was kind of half-assed and passive-aggressive?

2. The connection to fertility is equally tenuous, because the presence of a period doesn’t automatically imply fertility. Plenty of women menstruate every month and yet are infertile. Plenty of women menstruate and yet have no interest in ever having kids. Plenty of women greet the arrival of their period with great joy, because it means they aren’t pregnant. But talk to a woman who’s been struggling for months or years to conceive and has, yet again, gotten her period, and see if she’s in the mood to celebrate it with a moon dance.

3. Natural things can still be gross. Slug slime? Gross. The compost bin two days after I add leftover zucchini? Disgusting — and the fact that its dark, nutrient-rich earthiness will soon bring life to more zucchini in my garden makes it no less so. Boogers are a sign that my body is doing its duty to protect me from allergens and pathogens, but I don’t celebrate them — I blow them out (rather than picking them and eating them, which could actually be beneficial to your immune system. True fact).

Menstruation didn’t make me feel at one with all of female humanity. It didn’t make me feel like a sister to the goddess. It felt like the lining of my uterus was sitting in my underpants, which is not where God intended it to be. And when it got on my pants, the fact that it was precious and beautiful menstrual blood made it no less a spot of blood on my pants. No less a permanent stain on my bath towels. No less a ruined pair of really cute undies because my period snuck up on me out of nowhere. Using a tampon to hide this wasn’t out of shame — it was out of convenience.

And it wasn’t out of vanity, either. Not that I loved the Pampers-profile of a super-plus maxi in a pair of snug jeans, but when I was getting my period, sex appeal was the least of my concerns. Johnston-Robledo asserts that a tampon is preferred by some women because it’s “less noticeable,” and thus they can still appear sexy even while they menstruate (which she connects to the sexualization of girls). Three days out of the month, I appeared greasy, bloated, and willing and able to shoot laser beams out of my eyeballs. (The other two days, I was crying.) I appreciated that I didn’t notice the presence of a tampon once it was in, particularly in contrast with a pad that kept that precious, holy uterine lining right up next to my bits.

Johnston-Robledo is right that much of the societal flailing about menstruation is because it’s woman-coded — it comes from your vagina, and you get all emotional, and it’s icky uterine lining, and you’re all impure and should be sequestered from society until you’re done. And that’s wrongheaded and unfair. But just because the patriarchy hates on it for misogynistic reasons and uses it as another opportunity to oppress women doesn’t make it reflexively awesome. My period was not a blessing, it was a pain in the ass. It was a burden, not because it was shameful but because it was uncomfortable. It made me tired and bloated and sweaty, and I didn’t want to do the things I enjoyed because I felt so lousy. And no reminder that goddess fertile life precious moon woman was going to make me look forward to it or see it as anything but a pain in the ass.

Here’s some blood I’m really proud of: the blood that came out of my knee after my first wreck on a mountain bike. I was charging up a steep hill, my wheel hit a rock that moved unexpectedly, my bike slipped out from under me, and down I went into the dirt. I came up with a scrape from elbow to wrist and about half a pound of gravel and Alabama red clay embedded in my knee. It was pretty awesome, honestly, because it was Blood Shed of Doing Something Awesome. And what did I do when I got home? I mopped it up, cleaned it off, bandaged it, and threw everything away. I didn’t frame the gauze in a shadowbox to put on a wall, I didn’t take a moment to silently commune with all my sisters and brothers who had also wrecked on bikes, and I felt no regret or longing as I threw it in the trash. Because no matter how proud I was of what I was doing when I shed it, there was nothing precious or sacred about it — it was just, y’know, blood.

If you want to surf proudly atop the crimson wave, go for it. If your Aunt Flo comes to visit and you cherish her presence, have at it. If your red moon is rising and you want to dance, bang a gong. But if I just want to put on a pair of snug, white pants and wait for the communists to march on by, don’t accuse me of succumbing to a stigma or promoting antifeminist ideology — I just don’t like blood and don’t want it in my underoos. I will not praise it to the moon. I will not fly a red balloon. I will not catch it in a cup, nor use a pad to sop it up. I will not paint it on a wall. I will not do anything at all. Because while perfectly natural, bodily fluids in general are gross and I do not like them, Fem I Am.

Author: has written 237 posts for this blog.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

168 Responses

  1. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll July 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

    Yes. Dancing is the last thing on my mind when I sneeze and feel a giant clot shoot out of me and cling to my pad. Or wake up in a pool of blood because my pad shifted in the night. Tampons give me cramps, so do those awful cups. And I didn’t enjoy digging around up there trying to get the damned thing out to empty so I went back to pads. Which IMO is gross, but still not shameful. It’s just blood, but I still don’t enjoy it sticking to my inner thigh.

  2. Angel H.
    Angel H. July 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm |

    One woman’s “moon time” is another woman’s nightmare.

    My menstrual cycle is the absolute worst time of the month for me. I get super-depressed and anxious. I get migraines, backaches, and cramps so painful that I’m sometimes bedridden. Excuse me for not celebrating its arrival. >:P

  3. Alexandra
    Alexandra July 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm |

    No one will ever convince me that waking up in the morning surprise!soaked in my own blood and having to strip off the bed and do an extra load of laundry is a ~*~magical~*~ experience.

    Also, for me the first two days of my period are debilitating and painful. My periods are short – no more than four days – mostly because EVERYTHING COMES OUT LIKE A GEYSER in the first 36 hours.

  4. Angelia Sparrow
    Angelia Sparrow July 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm |

    “It’s something that has been hanging out, perfectly happy, on the inside of me until suddenly it gets some wild ambition to see the world…”

    This, exactly. And the end made me chuckle. Thanks, I needed that on this first day.

    While I am a pagan, it’s still gross. It’s blood. Sometimes it’s gooey, extra chunky blood and it’s coming out of me. I feel no urge to fingerpaint with it, use it in spells, or do anything at all, other than eat chocolate and make sure it doesn’t stain my sheets, furniture or clothes.

    Side note:
    My daughter became a Maiden–as opposed to a child–when she had her first period. When I have my last, I will stop being an acting Crone and become a true Crone. (I’m the oldest in the coven). There will be a solemn and celebratory ritual as I step into this new phase of life. I do not stop being a woman.

    1. Tangie
      Tangie July 16, 2013 at 6:29 am |

      Just out of curiosity….if you were ill in some way and needed a hysterectomy at age 38, would you still be a true Crone? If your daughter experienced uterine agenesis and never had a period, would she remain a child forever? I think that’s the point of the author’s comments.

      1. Susan
        Susan July 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |

        I’m not Angelia, but here is an answer. While the life passages are generally tied to things like birth, death, fertility etc., they are also symbolically tied to social roles. So a woman may become a maiden or crone when she is ready, even if something slightly different is going on with her body. The rite of passage gives the community an opportunity to acknowledge the new role and position within the group. It’s even possible for a Pagan woman to go through a “mother” rite even if she will never have children and will never adopt or foster any. The focus is on how she might conceptualize, birth and nurture contributions to society in a different way.

        Hope that helps.

      2. Angelia Sparrow
        Angelia Sparrow July 31, 2013 at 9:18 pm |

        And because we worship a Four-fold Goddess, Maiden, Warrior, Mother and Crone, there is room for everyone.

        We use the biological markers because they are the most common way to mark the transitions.

        The exceptional condition you mention that causes amenorrhea would be taken into account. And when the girl feels she is ready to stop being a child and take on her spiritual duties as a maiden, then she would have a Maidening.

        Hysterectomies are fairly common (I’m the first woman in my family in 3 generations to go through menopause). There, the conventional wisdom is that a woman is ready for cronehood when her children are all independent and she is no longer needed in the Mother role.

  5. Chataya
    Chataya July 12, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

    Fuck my fertility and fuck my period.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune July 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm |

      Ditto.

    2. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date July 12, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

      I have read about women who celebrate the whole menstrual-period thing, but I have never (yet) met any. Though to be sure it’s not a question I go around asking people.

      1. cunfyoozion
        cunfyoozion July 13, 2013 at 11:42 am |

        I have a genetic disorder that results in high iron. Since it reduces iron levels, menstruation can make me feel quite a bit better (physically). So I suppose that would classify me as one of those women who celebrates it. Still find it really annoying when I read some article telling me I should be celebrating it; why do they think they get to order people how to feel about their own bodily processes?

    3. delagar
      delagar July 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm |

      I first met one of these people about ten years ago when I was talking about how the birth control I was using then (depo) stopped my period entirely.

      I was like “Yippee!” and she gave me these big sorrowful eyes and explained how she really loved getting her “time” because it was such a sweet reminder that she was a woman.

      Yeah. Because that’s the kind of thing I keep forgetting, myself.

      1. shfree
        shfree July 13, 2013 at 12:58 am |

        She must have never had a single menstrual cramp in her life. Either that or she was doing the “Woo I’m not pregnant!” happy dance every period. I mean really, if I need to be reminded that I’m a woman, I will just take a look at my paycheck.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra July 13, 2013 at 9:02 pm |

          just take a look at my paycheck

          ahahaha, I see what you did thurr

        2. JBL55
          JBL55 July 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

          I never had a single menstrual cramp in my life, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed getting my period or appreciated a reminder (like I could forget) I’m female.

          Words cannot describe how nice it is to be post-menopausal and never need to think about periods ever ever again.

          Now, if only the needle on my thermostat would un-pin itself from the “hotter than the hinges of Hackensack” setting …

      2. miga
        miga July 13, 2013 at 1:17 am |

        My mom told me that back in the day when her PMS got particularly bad she’d sarcastically belt “I enjoy being a girl.”

        I turn into a little bit of a misandrist, unfortunately. I have a little less patience with cis-men during that time of the month, as I’m either scatterbrained and crying over the tiniest thing someone said or did or I’m scatterbrained and angry all the time. Damn cismen and their non-PMS-having privilege!

      3. Computer Soldier Porygon
        Computer Soldier Porygon July 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm |

        Ugh, yeah. If I wanted a reminder, I’d just go for a walk and wait for someone to shout at me. It’s such a funny idea, like, that I would like a reminder that I am a woman. Most of the time, it feels like something that no one will let me FORGET.

      4. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune July 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

        I was like “Yippee!” and she gave me these big sorrowful eyes and explained how she really loved getting her “time” because it was such a sweet reminder that she was a woman.

        …well, I can usually remember my assigned gender without having to bleed from any of my orifices, but maybe I’m just special.

        1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help July 14, 2013 at 5:12 am |

          *tsk* you’re just showin’ off, mac.

      5. Anna
        Anna July 14, 2013 at 3:27 am |

        Yes. They are out there. Tweet about Depo and they’ll come out of the woodwork … At least that’s my experience.

      6. (Bfing) Sarah
        (Bfing) Sarah July 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm |

        LOL! Nothing like a stained pair of pants to remind you that you are a woman! WOOOT!!

  6. SamBarge
    SamBarge July 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

    Meh. Periods are neither “moon time” nor nightmare to me. Periods are just there. Like a mountain.

    When you don’t want to be pregnant but are afraid you might be, they are the most beautiful mountain in the world and you can’t wait climb it and plant your flag.

    When you want to be pregnant, they are the bitch mountain that you have to climb to get to the life-saving serum on the other side.

    But for most of my life they’ve just been a fucking mountain in the background. They neither thrill nor enrage. They’re just part of the scenery of my life.

    1. EG
      EG July 12, 2013 at 8:19 pm |

      Seconded. They’re like sweating when it’s hot out. It’s just a thing my body does, for decent reasons, and sometimes it means I have to change my clothing.

      1. SamBarge
        SamBarge July 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm |

        Your analogy is superior. The mountain thing didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. I bow to you.

  7. roro80
    roro80 July 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm |

    After 3 years of period hell, including really having serious anger about being a woman because of it, it turned out there was a medical reason for my pain and super heavy bleeding. I went on the pill (way before having sex) and discovered tampons at the same time, and it was such a relief to be rid of a burden to a week+ of my time and pain every month. Since then (over 15 years ago now), my period has been a cinch. 3 days of light flow that starts sometime in the afternoon every 4th Thursday. Tampons and lack of fertility through medicine are awesome for those who like them. For me, they helped me embrace my womanhood, because being a woman no longer meant big giant angry bloody embarrassing painfull crampy mess.

  8. Unree
    Unree July 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm |

    Meh. Johnson-Robledo sounded moderate to me, not judgey. I don’t think she’d have a problem with a woman who says no thanks to embracing her menstrual blood.

  9. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla July 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm |

    As a trans* person, I always feel an undertow when I read language such as Johnston-Robledo uses. Radfems often speak in similarly reverent language about menstruation and fertility and use it to label trans* women as fake and illegitimate.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L July 12, 2013 at 7:39 pm |

      Right. Like the women-only pharmacy in British Columbia that justified its “no trans women as customers, please” policy by explaining that “it’s all about the bleeding.”

      1. Donna L
        Donna L July 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm |

        Unlike some trans women, I don’t suffer from “menstruation envy” per se, only sadness at what its absence means, in terms of never having been able to bear a child.

        [trigger warning for graphic medical content]

        After all, I had vaginal bleeding and had to wear a pad pretty much continuously for months after my GRS due to various complications, especially after a nurse practitioner made the mistake of trying to use silver nitrate sticks to burn off some areas of tissue that weren’t healing properly. Oops! (I didn’t find the “don’t worry, it’s supposed to bleed and be painful — that means it’s working!” telephonic reassurances to be very reassuring.) So that was enough bleeding for me for a while.

        1. Hrovitnir
          Hrovitnir July 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm |

          nurse practitioner made the mistake of trying to use silver nitrate sticks to burn off some areas of tissue that weren’t healing properly.

          Owowowowowow! Noooo. 8(

      2. Jamie
        Jamie July 13, 2013 at 12:14 am |

        Whaaaaaaaaat? Where is this stupid place?

      3. Jamie
        Jamie July 13, 2013 at 12:14 am |

        Whaaaaaaaaat? Where is this stupid place?

      4. Donna L
        Donna L July 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

        OK, I got the quotation slightly wrong, but it was still pretty bad:

        http://www.straight.com/news/transgender-activist-opposes-downtown-eastside-pharmacy-ban

        Transgender activist opposes Downtown Eastside pharmacy ban
        by Charlie Smith on Jul 8, 2009 at 3:28 pm

        The Vancouver Women’s Health Collective says transgender women will not be served at its new pharmacy on the Downtown Eastside. And that has a neighbourhood transgender activist alleging that the collective is discriminating against women like herself. . . .

        The collective’s executive director, Caryn Duncan, told the Straight in a phone interview that her organization’s steering committee discussed whether or not to extend service to all “self-identified women”. In the end, members decided to serve “women born women”.

        “We are an organization that has for almost 40 years supported women around their battle with breast cancer or unwanted pregnancy or delivering a baby with a midwife, [and] celebrating or dealing with menopause,” Duncan said. “It’s about bleeding—or wanting to bleed or not bleed. It’s about being a woman, and the physiology of being a woman.”

        She claimed that the pharmacy doesn’t have the expertise or capacity to serve transgender women. “I think we’re being very reasonable,” Duncan said. “I believe the massive groundswell of support for our pharmacy and for our work is evidence that what we do is supported in the broader community.”

        Because, of course, filling a prescription requires so much expertise. The number of people who rushed to defend this policy at the time was both depressing and very hurtful to me. I will never understand.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm |

          Bzuh? That’s really insulting and transphobic. And while I disagree with you, Donna, that filling a scrip doesn’t take expertise, it sure as fuck doesn’t take MORE knowledge to fill out a trans woman’s prescription; just less transphobia. Besides… don’t pharmacists everywhere manage to help people of all physiologies? Somehow being part of a women-only pharmacy means the pharmacists in there are equipped to handle less than what an ordinary Joe or Susie Pharmacy Worker can do?

          Well, what bloody good are they, then?

          Also, that justification is such rubbish. It’s about wanting to bleed or not bleed? Well, don’t some trans women want to bleed? And others to not bleed? How is that any different? And obvs trans women need things cis ones don’t, and vice versa, but still, the majority of meds needed by women aren’t focused on the two or three organs cis women have that trans women don’t (and hell, not even all cis women, ffs).

          And now I have to wonder what this pharmacy would say to non-binary people or intersex people… and I’m a little more depressed. Fuck.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L July 13, 2013 at 2:35 pm |

          Apologies, macavity; what I really meant was what you were saying: that filling a prescription for a trans woman doesn’t necessarily require more specialized expertise than filling one for a non-trans woman or any other human being, for that matter.

  10. Hobbes
    Hobbes July 12, 2013 at 7:00 pm |

    When, immediately after [getting a hormonal IUD], I spotted for six weeks straight [...]

    I just got my very first hormonal IUD a couple of weeks ago and … I was actually kind of nervous about this whole spotting thing until I read this. So, thank you!

    (Thus concludes this thread derail, sorry.)

    1. Chataya
      Chataya July 13, 2013 at 1:22 pm |

      I got mine a few months ago. I had a heavy period right afterwards (which is “normal” for me) and some light spotting afterwards, but it cleared up and I haven’t had anything since.

  11. Stephanie
    Stephanie July 12, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

    Love it. Menstrual blood is still blood, annoying and inconvenient.

    The bit about blood to be proud of is something I tell my kids every time they get hurt doing something cool. You still have to clean it up, it’s not fun to deal with, but you got a good story out of it.

  12. Barnacle Strumpet
    Barnacle Strumpet July 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm |

    Thank you for this post.

    I’ve seen periods pretty much ruin women’s lives and I resent the idea that they’re all positive forces for everyone.

    We discussed this in a human sexuality class and of course, some women had to spout off about how cramps were nothing and women who have problems with them are whiners. I suspect the same women that promote the ‘periods are sacred and wonderful‘ are of the same variety; they’ve had problem-free menstruation that is relatively light and without bad cramping, and don’t want to bother to consider that their experience is not everyone’s.

    1. Kes
      Kes July 14, 2013 at 11:13 am |

      Speaking as somebody who suffers from primary dysmenorrhea and has debilitating full-body cramping, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, heavy flow and clotting, etc…. I found it very helpful to go through some of the “menstruation as sacred act” readings and self-guided trainings that are available. They gave me a method for dealing with the altered mental state more effectively, helped me demand the time off for myself that I needed, and gave me a new way to interpret some of the sensations I was feeling as something other than pain. It’s not a panacea, but it did help, and I plan on passing those books on to my daughters in a few years when they start menstruating.

      1. Barnacle Strumpet
        Barnacle Strumpet July 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

        I hope I didn’t seem dismissive of it; and I think this thread has proved wrong my assumption that people that connect menstruation with spirituality are those with easier periods.

        It has never grossed me out, though I draw the line at the advice one new age book promoted (“put in your man’s food, he’ll never leave you” D:)

        If the spiritual approach works, definitely pass it on. I don’t know of any better alternatives ; I’ve seen people get addicted to painkillers from self-medicating against extremely painful menstruel cramps. I just wish what women suffer through on their periods would be taken seriously by most people; it is not just being a baby or a whiner or a layabout.

        I think that is where my issue with the spiritual approach has stemmed from; to me a lot of the focus on positivity and acceptance seemed to be denying the very real suffering menstruation causes so many people, and I have seen a lot of women alienated from it [spiritual/positive focus] because of that.

        Do you have any books in particular you would recommend?

  13. Petra Lorre
    Petra Lorre July 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm |

    Well gee, I’m glad to know that using a menstrual cup means that I’m just really comfortable with my body. Yeah, I suppose I am “interacting” with my fluids but that’s just because the smell of discarded pads/tampons emanating from the trash can grosses me out. It ain’t a field of daisies. This way I flush all that wonderful moon-uterus-juice right down the commode. Heck, for the last three days of my seven day period I don’t even bother to take the cup out. It’s bliss, for me. Others may prefer other methods.

    1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help July 12, 2013 at 9:04 pm |

      That “interacting” bit made me laugh. Um, it’s not sentient, folks, how does one interact with body fluid? :P

      1. Laura
        Laura July 13, 2013 at 10:43 am |

        This is one way to interact with your menstrual blood but -Trigger Warning – it might totally freak out most of the commenters to this post who may find it hard to believe anyone disagrees with them to this extent. So does anyone find this beautiful?
        http://beautyinblood.com/

        1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help July 14, 2013 at 5:19 am |

          The first thing I thought with those pics – and yes, they’d be described as pretty straight away if you thought they were ink, for instance – was that they are just irrelevant to bleeding during menopause. Who goes around with water or whatever to let their blood swirl around in? Menstrual blood ends up in a pad, or tampon, or cup (never seen those, I don’t think they’re in Oz) or down the loo or, worst case, on your clothes. No resemblance there to pretty swirly shapes. Nothing to do with inconvenience, discomfort or outright pain.

          I’m still not sure I’d call making pics of the stuff interacting with it. It’s not a two-way process. Just as well … I’d be really pissed if the Red Menace started talking back.

    2. chava
      chava July 13, 2013 at 12:44 am |

      ugh, I always want to do that but am too nervous that…I don’t even know, the blood will culture something while it’s collecting in there.

      RE: the OP and tampons/cups–I find the cup much less painful than tampons, fwiw. bodies are strange.

      1. miga
        miga July 13, 2013 at 1:46 am |

        Eep! Cups hurt like the devil for me. Putting it in is like someone tried to punch me up there, and pulling it out is like someone’s trying to plunge out my insides.

        Those disposable cups work a lot better for me, but the problem is if I don’t put it in exactly right it slips out after a while and then whatever’s caught up there comes out at once. Not a fun thing.

        1. MinervaB
          MinervaB July 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

          Same for me. I tried a DivaCup, thinking it’d be nice to not throw away so many tampons/have an eco-friendly period. I didn’t mind seeing the blood at all but inserting it hurt and took way longer than tampons. It was really hard to clean and didn’t play nice with my NuvaRing, either, so back to tampons. I wish everyone would just let people use what works for them without making a big thing about it. The vast majority of the time, what I put in my vagina is private and does not involve the general public.

      2. Petra Lorre
        Petra Lorre July 13, 2013 at 1:46 am |

        Yeah, chava, sometimes I worry that I’m being a little too blase, but then the laziness takes over and I forget about it. So far so good?

    3. LMM
      LMM July 14, 2013 at 11:32 am |

      I tried a menstrual cup for a month or two. It worked mostly … and then I got the worst UTI of my life. When I went in, I got a lovely lecture from the Ob-GYN about how, in some women, menstrual cups can trigger UTIs because of the way they press against the urethra.

      Lesson learned. But I guess (even though I use the inserter-less tampons) I’m just not comfortable with dealing with my own blood.

  14. EG
    EG July 12, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

    Meh. Bodily fluids in general just don’t gross me out very much unless they smell bad, and even those–you do enough child/baby care, you deal with piss and shit and they’re not much of a big deal. I think the same is true of taking care of dogs and cats as well. So menstrual blood doesn’t gross me out any more than snot or tears or sweat, none of which I find particularly gross (once a toddler has grabbed your hand to wipe his nose on it, well, it’s snot, so I go wash my hands, but it’s not like…I don’t know, viscerally repulsive or anything). I do prefer my menstrual blood to injury blood, because the latter is an indication to me that something’s wrong, whereas the former is an indication to me, given my menstrual cycle, that everything is going well.

    I too have never met anybody who waxes eloquent about the poetic beauty of menstruation, but I have read them on-line and in Inga Muscio’s Cunt, which I think is the most over-rated book of the past 30 years of feminist writing.

    1. Petra Lorre
      Petra Lorre July 13, 2013 at 1:39 am |

      Toddler snot. I hadn’t lived until my niece said, “Here” and put a booger in my hand. Good times.

      1. SamBarge
        SamBarge July 13, 2013 at 9:39 am |

        When my daughter was just under 3 yrs old, she ran up to hug me and rubbed her face on my shoulder. When she came away, there was a giant booger on my shoulder. “Oh look! You gave mommy a snot-corsage!” She thought that was the funniest thing EVER.

    2. (Bfing) Sarah
      (Bfing) Sarah July 14, 2013 at 5:24 pm |

      I feel the same way, EG. Just another bodily fluid. Not gross, but not something I want to paint with, either.

  15. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
    The Kittehs' Unpaid Help July 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm |

    Great post, Caperton.

    I’m not grossed out by my own body fluids at all. Other people’s, yes; mine, no; animals’, no.

    The whole idea of getting all reverential about one’s periods just seems … extraordinarily silly. Like you said, it isn’t an indicator of fertility, and even if it were, it means one’s not pregnant, so isn’t doing the Great Earth Mother Giving Birth Hurrah Hurrah thing anyway. If breeding were the thing, surely a period is a sign of failure.

    Plus, the whole reverence for reproductive ability is stupid in a modern context. Western society doesn’t suffer huge child mortality rates, and it’s not like we’re tiny communities struggling to survive (literally, not as in towns disappearing when there’s no work) in a prehistoric or early agricultural context.

    It also seems weird to reverence something one doesn’t do voluntarily or have any control over. Having a period isn’t a skill or a talent, it’s just a thing the body does (or not). Do we reverence breathing, or sneezing, or taking a dump? (My cats think we should make a big deal of them taking a dump, but that’s another matter.)

    Periods have just been a greater or lesser inconvenience for me, sometimes scaling up to being painful enough to miss school or work. They mean being stuck in pants and pads 24/7, because I can’t wear tampons; they’re incredibly painful. I recently got to the “stuff this” stage of putting old towels in my bed, at least on the lighter nights, instead of keeping pants and pads on, because the itching and zits that creates are worse than the damn period itself.

    And now the joys of perimenopause have arrived. Cramps from waist to ankles and the occasional hot flush or night sweat, wonderful. Yeah, I really revere this damn-nuisance bodily function.

  16. shfree
    shfree July 12, 2013 at 10:31 pm |

    I’ve been comfortable enough with my blood to rinse out reusable pads, but I remember reading some article about how some women fertilized their plants with the leftover water from the rinsing process, and there was some artist who would sit on a piece of paper and make art from her menstrual blood. And yeah, but no. I don’t sculpt with my earwax.

    1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help July 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm |

      Yeah, that whole “art with menstrual blood” thing just seems way OTT to me. I don’t know if it’s the same person, but I’ve seen one who smears t-shirts with menstrual blood. Blech.

      … Hmm, does that mean the splatter of garlic butter I got on that tee (thank you chicken Kiev) is art? Damn, I should have sold it instead of washing it.

    2. Chataya
      Chataya July 13, 2013 at 1:27 pm |

      The people who make art with their menstrual blood wouldn’t gross me out so much if most of them actually mixed it with a medium instead of just smearing it on paper. Yes, it’s your “moon blood” but it’s still blood and a health hazard. At least mix it with an acrylic polymer or something.

  17. chava
    chava July 13, 2013 at 12:39 am |

    I don’t think it’s something to be revered, but I do judge (just a tad) women who are overly icked out by the blood *itself,* because come on, you’re an adult, it’s unpleasant, sure, but get over the “ewwww, blood,” thing already.

    Seems to me there’s a vast gulf between “those women-period-things are icky and we shan’t talk about them!” to a matter-of-fact, “yeah, this can be painful and icky, but it’s a part of life.”

    1. Coraline
      Coraline July 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

      You might as well say “Come on, you’re an adult… get over the ‘ewwww, spiders’ thing already”

      Sometimes people have phobias, and that is not something they can really help.

      IRL, I know someone who has a serious blood phobia (among other things… she has a lot of anxiety and other mental issues) and once when we were both drunk I asked her how she dealt with menstruation with her phobias. Her response was that situations like that were what ativan were for…

      1. chava
        chava July 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm |

        there’s a difference between a phobia and just being childish or refusing to examine your own issues with bodies and physicality. look, I judge women who use Summer’s Eve, too. doesn’t mean ppl with serious blood phobias or trauma related stuff don’t exist.

  18. Karak
    Karak July 13, 2013 at 1:30 am |

    I have some misogyny tied up in my period. Peroid blood, is, to me, a special category of disgusting that is shameful in its disgusting-ness, worse than any other form of body fluid, second only to vaginal secretions, which are not as bad as semen.

    Some of the moon woman stuff I chant in my head to drown out the constant barrage of shame, it doesn’t help I have OCD and my obsessions are being unhygeneic, disgust with human fluids, and being judged or stared at. The dreaded peroid butt-stain is such a preoccupation of mine that I’ve been afraid to leave the house or had constant, low-level panic attacks.

    Luckily my partner is of the more practical sort and doesn’t tolerate my weird fretting. He likes my vagina, the things my vagina do are normal for my body, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Blithe acceptance by a male has also helped my sense of fretting. The only two people that need to be impressed with my vag are him and me, and he’s on board. I should be too.

  19. BroadBlogs
    BroadBlogs July 13, 2013 at 2:44 am |

    re “blam(ing) tampon makers for pushing anti-menstruation hysteria and says that a woman who is truly comfortable with her body wouldn’t use one ”

    Really?

    I don’t find the blood disgusting. But I can find it a mess. When I was younger my mom didn’t want me to use a tampon ’cause she thought I would lose my virginity!?

    I was tired of blood getting on my clothes. I said, virgin or not, I’m using one!

    1. Radiant Sophia
      Radiant Sophia July 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

      I’ve found that it is rarely talked about, but the idea that using a tampon = losing your virginity is deep set where I am from (southeast U.S.). I’m not sure how it is elsewhere, but I know that if my parents had found tampons when I was in high school, I would have been accused of promiscuity even though I was not sexually active, and I would have probably been kicked out of the house.

      I’m familiar with the idea that tampons are anti-feminist, and that the marketing of them is extremely so, but my lived experiences cause me to link anti-tampon with extreme right, Christian, control-your-daughters-until-you-marry-them-off groups.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune July 17, 2013 at 6:11 pm |

        I’m not sure how it is elsewhere

        Same in India, fwiw. I mean, I can’t use tampons most of the time because they give me horrific pain (haha gibbly reproductive system ftl), but it would have been nice to have the option without fearing social exclusion.

        Also, I’ve always wanted to ask the straight cis guys I’ve seen raging about how tampons=loss of virginity exactly why they’re so terrified. Like… are you terribly concerned that a Kotex Regular is going to give some virginal young woman an inflated idea of what to expect in your pants?

  20. Kerplunk
    Kerplunk July 13, 2013 at 3:38 am |

    I agree that revering menstrual blood is silly, but I do see it as an attempt to counteract the societal messages that it’s disgusting and that women should therefore be ashamed of it, especially if — gasp! — some it were to get out and cause a visible stain. When I was a teenager there was no end to how mortifying it was. The constant worry that it would stain or show somehow, even that the pad might show because of its bulk, was overwhelming.

    On the other hand, it seemed to me that boys should be terribly embarrassed by their dangling bits, which could slip out of gym shorts unannounced and whose bulge could not be disguised. I was grateful I at least did not have to deal with that. But guess, what? I found out that boys are not embarrassed at all. Because they are men and being a man is all good, whereas being a woman is embarrassing (and gross) and should be kept hidden.

    So, no thank you, I will not buy into the notion that menstrual blood is gross.

    1. Hugh
      Hugh July 13, 2013 at 7:35 am |

      “I agree that revering menstrual blood is silly, but I do see it as an attempt to counteract the societal messages that it’s disgusting and that women should therefore be ashamed of it,”

      It’s a very imperfect counter, though. The “If it’s not horrible, it must be awesome” thing has been tripping up feminists for a long time. It’s not as if recognising some kind of ambiguity is that hard.

      1. Kes
        Kes July 14, 2013 at 11:05 am |

        Hugh, you are a cis man. You do not get a say on how female people consider their periods. Don’t tell me that a tactic of handling something I have to address in my life is “tripping [me] up,” or use dismissive phrases like saying, “It’s not as if [...] it’s that hard.”

        Epic “ally” fail in your comment.

  21. Amanda Olson
    Amanda Olson July 13, 2013 at 8:53 am |

    I am irritated by my period. I cramp like hell, and the feeling of blood dripping from my body is unpleasant (understatement of the week). It ruins that whole week with headaches, nausea, cramps… Sex is impossible, and even though my husband doesn’t mind, I do, because that blood tends to dry out, which does not facilitate pleasurable intercourse.
    I don’t feel like using a tampon is hiding my femininity, or my fertility. I have three children. I don’t celebrate my bleeding uterus as my ability to conceive; my ovary’s release of an egg is more worthy of that, and even still, it’s not the complete tale.
    During that week, I want to dance around naked in the moonlight about as much as I want to have an infected tooth pulled. During that week, I just want to hide (not just the blood but my entire being) and wait for the whole bloody storm to pass.

  22. Lisa
    Lisa July 13, 2013 at 9:14 am |

    I hate my period. I have cramps so bad I vomit that last for at least two days, I get super cranky and impatient, I get painfully constipated and gassy, there is no comfortable position for me to sleep in, my hips and knees ACHE the entire time, and my menstrual blood disgusts me to the point of nausea. It smells bad, feels terrible and looks like it came out of a horror movie. The sights, the sounds, the feelings, the smells, it’s really just an all-sensory bad time.

    It may be some internalized misogyny going on, but I’m not even really interested in exploring it, because I don’t want to think about it more than I have to.

    1. rhian
      rhian July 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm |

      That sounds really miserable. I’m so sorry. I don’t know if you have ever talked to a doctor about it, or if you’re interested in or able to do so, but there are medications (one type being hormonal contraception) that can really help with some of the things you’re describing. Just wanted to share the information for you or anyone else it might be helpful for.

      1. Lisa
        Lisa July 14, 2013 at 10:58 am |

        Thank you for the advice. I haven’t really gone to see anybody about it for a few different reasons, the biggest of which is a lack of health insurance. And I could (probably should) go to PP, but honestly, I am not regular at all, never have been. My cycle is usually like, 75 days long, so I don’t have to deal with it every month. And I’m lazy.

    2. Lindsay
      Lindsay July 15, 2013 at 12:40 am |

      You sound like me.

      I don’t menstruate anymore, because my birth control (just pills, nothing like the hormone-secreting IUDs or Depo injections mentioned upthread) for whatever reason make it not happen. (It’s GREAT!)

      But when I did, I also had cramps so bad they made me throw up. I was also bedridden a lot of the time, because I couldn’t make even the tiniest movement without triggering a sudden worsening of the pain.

      And I also had a super-long, irregular cycle. I don’t know exactly how long, though. Definitely longer than a month, but probably not more than two months.

      If I could’ve moved, I probably would’ve bitten the head off of anyone who told me I should be celebrating my Moon Time, LOL. (Is it your moon time if your cycle isn’t monthly? It has only now occurred to me to wonder this.)

  23. Emily
    Emily July 13, 2013 at 9:20 am |

    Talk about timing – I just got my period this morning, unexpectedly. Though mine are always unexpected, since I don’t have any kind of regular cycle. I’d planned to go swimming at the open air pool, so that’s out now (I don’t do tampons). And my back aches, but the only pain killers that work for it don’t go well with my other meds, so I can only take them for 12 hours max. Though at least now I know why I was all weepy for the last couple of days, and that it’s not a sign my depression’s getting out of control again – not that the two days of thinking that were fun.

    And I just hate having to deal with the blood, because it’s messy. Pads leak, and I have to remember to check I’ve got them in my bag before I go to work, and I just hate having blood on my clothes. Especially in the summer, because I’m hot and sticky and messy enough without adding bleeding for four or five days.

    So, no, it’s not dirty or icky or whatever, but it’s like my hay fever and my depression and my tendency to burn if I even look at the sun too long – it’s something I could quite happily live without, and I do not plan to start celebrating it any more than I celebrate all the other things my body does that I’d prefer it didn’t

    1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help July 14, 2013 at 2:30 am |

      I’m grateful mine turned up early this time. I’m on a plane tomorrow, when the Red Menace was due. Thank goodness it’s nearly over. Been hit by it on a plane before, and that’s even less fun than usual!

  24. Andie
    Andie July 13, 2013 at 10:24 am |

    I wanted to go to the beach today because I finally have a day off where I have no previous engagements and it’s not raining and I woke up to my period.

    I’m NOT loving my period at all today.

  25. mh
    mh July 13, 2013 at 11:30 am |

    The lining of my uterus has been trying to kill me for years.

    Your post had me (mentally) dancing the dance of the uterus-less, ovary-less woman (we tried to leave the ovaries, but endometriosis ate them.) Gotta tell you: having no uterus and it’s accompanying bent-on-world-domination lining has been FANTASTIC. I just noticed last week that I can own new underwear and it will STAY LOOKING NEW! Wheee!

    No less of a feminist after a six-hour surgery where the specialist had to call in reinforcement specialists to take out all my internal lady bits, including all the dozens of bits that weren’t where they were supposed to be. Let me tell you, I don’t miss ‘em AT ALL.

    Isn’t this like the bullshit about boobs being awesome and feminist and all women should love and cherish them, while ignoring the women whose boobs hurt or are otherwise a pain in the ass and/or whose boobs have tried to kill them?

    1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help July 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm |

      ent-on-world-domination lining

      Best description ever.

      This whole “cherish components X, Y or Z of your body” business seems so silly to me. Be glad if said components work and don’t hurt, but cherish them? “Oooh, my elbows, how I love thee!”

      I wonder if the Awesome Wonder Period brigade have ever (as was already pointed out in this thread) had cramps? Or if they’ve ever copped massive diarrhoea every time the damn thing arrives? That’s even more fun when you already have irritable bowel syndrome. Somehow crapping all day doesn’t seem quite the romantic goddessy thing, does it?

      Bet they don’t want to do paintings with the results there, either.

    2. NotAMoonLover
      NotAMoonLover July 17, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

      This really hits home for me. At the ripe old age of 27, I have already suffered through 16 years of severe endometriosis, verified polycystic ovaries and adenomyosis. My periods range from random light spotting every two weeks to ridiculously heavy change the ultra tampon every 45 minutes for 5 days. The last attempt at managing my periods via hormone manipulation resulted in hemorrhaging that lasted for 32 days, and became so severe I had to be hospitalized for the resulting anemia. I am scheduled to have a complete hysterectomy next week, and let me tell you I could NOT be more excited!

  26. catfood
    catfood July 13, 2013 at 11:37 am |

    So, it’s a few years ago and I’m newly dating The Least Jaded Person I Know, an anarchist feminist who’s kind of goddess-y. Aaaand she’s excited about having her period.

    “OMG! Come look! I’ve got chunks of my uterus on a tampon! Isn’t that awesome?

    She’s going on for like ten solid minutes about how awesome it is to be connected with the Extra Special Earth Mother, and the more grossed out I get by it the more she chatters because if there’s one thing she loves more than the Goddess it’s making cis-male me uncomfortable. And she really really wants to show me the tampon.

    There’s something about “chunks of uterus” that just doesn’t sound awesome to me.

    Ah yes, good times.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L July 13, 2013 at 12:35 pm |

      There’s something about the juxtaposition of your user name with menstrual blood that I find rather disturbing.

      1. catfood
        catfood July 13, 2013 at 2:28 pm |

        Hah. Sorry about that.

    2. Willemina
      Willemina July 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

      Just the word “chunks” sends a shiver up my spine.

    3. Chataya
      Chataya July 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm |

      I did this to my now-fiancee once. He came into the bathroom when I was changing my tampon (we’re really comfortable with each other) and caught a glimpse of it before I chucked it in the trash. He was horrified.

      “I thought the whole ‘bleeding’ thing was a euphemism! But that tampon was literally soaked in blood.”

      “Sadly not a euphemism.” I reached down to wipe. “Want to see a blood clot the size of my finger?”

      He kept track of my period so that he didn’t see that again.

      1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
        The Kittehs' Unpaid Help July 13, 2013 at 8:43 pm |

        He thought it was a euphemism? Did he ever say what he thought it really meant?

        1. Chataya
          Chataya July 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm |

          He knew what a period was – the shedding of the uterus lining – but he thought that “bleeding” was just a more polite term for “the lining of an organ is sloughing off and falling out of you.” He didn’t realize that, at least for me, it is accompanied by a very large amount of blood.

    4. Alexandra
      Alexandra July 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm |

      I’m cackling here because you’re reminding me of a conversation I once had with my (very platonic) male best friend who was incredibly excited to find out I had a yeast infection, because he found vaginal flora fascinating. Happily, I too find microbes endlessly interesting, and generally enjoy thinking of my body as an ecosystem (I suspect I may have dog tapeworms – so cool!). But yeast infections aren’t exactly “yippee” events for me, or for most other women I suspect :-)

      1. catfood
        catfood July 14, 2013 at 10:14 am |

        …he found vaginal flora fascinating.

        I suppose everyone needs a hobby. What?

  27. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl July 13, 2013 at 11:48 am |

    Thank you, Caperton, this was an awesome post and I agreed with every word of it.

    I’ve felt like I’ve been under siege by my reproductive parts pretty much since my first period in middle school. I pretty much hate them and get the impression the feeling is mutual, what with all the misery of my periods and my experiences with infertility, and then my kick in the ass surprise pregnancy after over twenty years of said siege.

    My uterus and ovaries can suck it as far as I’m concerned, and I refuse to wax philosophical about them or agree that my period has any sort of mystical wonderful qualities to it. And I think I can say that without a shred of self-directed misogyny or sexism.

  28. Jerry
    Jerry July 13, 2013 at 11:56 am |

    Speaking as a man who, for years, assisted a disabled woman with a normal menstrual cycle with her daily hygiene, it was just a monthly increase in the workload. Anyone who wants to get mystical about it, feel free. I’ll be over here in the corner, rolling my eyes.

    1. Kes
      Kes July 14, 2013 at 10:58 am |

      Y’know, “as a [cis] man” you really don’t get a say in how female people respond to our periods, which are tied in with how we are oppressed in a world which presumes conventionally-abled male bodies as default.

      I was nearly fired from a job because the dysmenorrhea I suffered didn’t always permit me the “advanced notice for sick leave” they required and I was labeled as having a problem with “absenteeism” for calling in 2 days a month. I was unable to concentrate well on – or in one cases, even attend – major exams in school if they fell on one of my “bad days.” The extent to which my life has been impacted by this has changed during different periods in my life, but since I was 12 this process of monthly menstruation has had a SIGNIFICANT affect on my career, my hobbies, my travel, my health, and my psychological state.

      And the “mystical” aspect promoted by some women helped me deal with it. It’s a model I can use for myself in dealing with pain and suffering I have to endure, and dealing with a society which treats me as weak and pathetic for having to endure it in the first place, and which sees no value or worth in anything experienced by female people which doesn’t directly benefit men. It’s not going to help all female people, and some like the OP find it ridiculous, but that’s okay. But it helped me.

      So you can take your rolling eyes and shove it. Try not to slip on the male privilege you’re dripping on the damn floor.

      1. catfood
        catfood July 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

        A work environment that penalizes you for calling in sick two days a month, without a compelling reason for being so strict about it, can be considered kind of discriminatory.

        1. Elly
          Elly July 15, 2013 at 10:08 am |

          O rly? Thanks for explaining that to us ladypeople. We had NO IDEA that we are discriminated against.

      2. JBL55
        JBL55 July 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm |

        Dear Lord. Nobody should have to go through what you have had to experience.

        A friend had horribly excruciating periods, the irregularity of which made it even worse. The best she could do (this was around 1970) was take birth control pills which both regularized her periods and made them a little less awful.

        I wish you well and hope advances in medical science will be able to help you in some way if they haven’t already.

      3. Jerry
        Jerry July 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm |

        I’m truly sorry you had problems with your menstrual cycle. I’m dealing with arthritis these days that comes and goes, and while I wouldn’t say it’s a good analogy, I do sort of understand what it’s like to wake up in the morning and discover that your body has already decided what you can or cannot do that particular day.

    2. yes
      yes July 14, 2013 at 9:49 pm |

      Silly Jerry, don’t you know that how appropriate a view is really relates to the who expresses the view, and not the content?

      1. Donna L
        Donna L July 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm |

        You make fun, but sometimes that’s both true, and entirely justified.

        1. yes
          yes July 16, 2013 at 3:01 pm |

          Personally, I don’t think I can bring myself to argue that someone’s gender determines how worthwhile their viewpoint is. Each to their own.

      2. A4
        A4 July 15, 2013 at 2:02 am |

        Given how integral context is to the full understanding of a particular string of words, the perceived characteristics of the speaker of said words are going to be very influential in the audience’s is attempt to construct that understanding.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 15, 2013 at 9:30 am |

          Oh the ironing!

        2. A4
          A4 July 15, 2013 at 10:15 am |

          <3 u 2 mac

    3. JBL55
      JBL55 July 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm |

      Speaking as a woman who was always able to manage her monthly periods by herself, jeepers. I am so glad I never needed anyone to do that for me.

      And I’m rolling my eyes at the whole “mystical” thing as well.

  29. Victoria Gaile
    Victoria Gaile July 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm |

    Sooo… I don’t wax mystical about it. But I did, actually, write a poem about it, after attending a one-hour menstrual workshop at a women’s conference years ago that completely changed my attitude towards my period by, basically, giving me permission to make some accommodations in the rest of my life for what my body was doing that week, instead of just covering it up and forcing myself to soldier on. I do, of course, realize that I’m pretty privileged to even have that option, and also fortunate in usually having fairly mild symptoms. So my poem is mine about my experience which I do not universalize.

    I titled it “The Blessing”, not because of anything mystical but as a refutation of “The Curse,” and I recite it to myself, er, periodically, you know. ;) I find it helpfully contextualizing, and I think it’s a pretty well crafted poem, honestly.

    But the memorable anecdote that goes with this poem is that when I posted a draft of it for critique on the poetry review board to which I belonged, I got almost no actual critique, a number of comments from annoyed women whose experience it did not reflect, and one outraged comment from a man who lambasted me at length for posting about “the disgusting shedding of your uterine lining.”

    He was so revolted, and I found it so hilarious. I amused myself by wondering whether he would have eloquently praised the romantic and potent symbolism in a poem written by a man about a nocturnal emission.

    1. Victoria Gaile
      Victoria Gaile July 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm |

      Oh, and I forgot to say — I loved your channeling of Dr. Seuss at the end of this post. Well done!!

    2. Anna
      Anna July 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm |

      “the disgusting shedding of your uterine lining.”

      Yeah, I think a lot of this moon goddess stuff (which I don’t support, for the reasons given in the OP) is a reaction to how women have been, and to some extent still are, shamed for menstruating, with menstruation seen as more disgusting than anything cis men’s bodies do.

      “Having your period makes you an irrational man-hating b—h! And for god’s sake don’t leave your filthy disgusting unused wrapped tampons out next to the nice toilet paper.” Even banishment to menstrual huts, avoidance of menstruating women as “cursed”, etc, still happens some places.

      And speaking as a Jewish woman, don’t even get me started on the whole niddah thing.

      By the way, your poem sounds really interesting to me. Would you care to post it?

      1. (Bfing) Sarah
        (Bfing) Sarah July 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm |

        “And for god’s sake don’t leave your filthy disgusting unused wrapped tampons out next to the nice toilet paper.”

        Ha! So I’m not the only one out there who has been chastised for this! When I was growing up it was all “OH NOEZZZ!! An unused pad, still in the wrapper, is on the toilet FOR EVERYONE TO SEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! Alert the authorities!!” I was actually taken aside the year I started my period (I was fresh in that embarrassed-just-got-my-period-and-now-I-feel-disgusting-and-shamed state) and told that I needed to wrap up the used pads until they were “unrecognizable” and dispose of them in a different trash can because otherwise my grandfather might notice them and feel upset/embarrassed. Um…because he’s an adult man with a half dozen kids who doesn’t know what a pad is? Because a 12 year old should be made to feel embarrassed and upset instead? I hate that whole attitude that people need to be protected from the idea of periods as if period products are dirty, even before they are used, just based on their vagina based purpose. Ugh.

  30. NikhNelia
    NikhNelia July 14, 2013 at 10:58 am |

    Whilst I absolutely agree the bit with the tampons and the narrative surrounding some of that worshipping of menstrual blood is damaging and just… not… no!, I must say that for me personally, small amounts of “worship” – in a manner of speaking – have done wonders for what used to be a really painful once-a-month experience. It’s funny how reading feminist blogs, listening to songs like Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” and a general attitude of “Yay Women!” helps me feel good in my body during periods (not just okay, but it makes my body actually feel good in a way it just really doesn’t a week before it starts). (Not drinking coffee helps a ton too.) That, for me, includes a positive attitude towards my own menstrual blood. On the other hand, reading stories of mysogyny and patriarchy have the “interesting” effect of bringing on pain that can develop into serious cramps. Took me years to find this out. Psychology!
    But of course this is my own experience and I don’t think anyone *should* feel a certain way about their periods.
    Also, yes, a period does definitely not make a woman!

  31. Kes
    Kes July 14, 2013 at 11:28 am |

    So…. An entire thread of 70+ comments and nobody pointed out a colonialist/racist undertow to the conversation.

    Who exactly are these women who say that menstruation is significant and that menstrual blood is sacred? Okay, some of them are definitely middle class hippie-style white women (always available for mockery). Others are members of indigenous or diaspora traditions. In other cases, clean, sanitary products are not available to female people, so they have to find other ways to deal with a period (ways that don’t include putting in a tampon so they can wear their tight, white capris).

    And if you don’t think that advertising campaigns regarding tampons and maxi pads – which is what Johnston-Robledo was addressing – are not seriously anti-female, white/Anglo-focused, and contributing to shame and denigration directed towards female people in those traditions which do treat menstruation or menstrual blood as sacred or significant, then I don’t even know what to say.

    I’m disappointed that nobody pointed that out, but to be honest I’m not terribly surprised, either.

    1. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date July 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

      Who exactly are these women who say that menstruation is significant and that menstrual blood is sacred? Okay, some of them are definitely middle class hippie-style white women (always available for mockery). Others are members of indigenous or diaspora traditions.

      In what indigenous and diaspora traditions is menstrual blood sacred? I am sincerely interested, but afraid to Google (for example, “indigenous tradition menstrual blood sacred”), so if you wanted to explain further, or point me in the right direction, I would be grateful.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune July 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm |

      contributing to shame and denigration directed towards female people in those traditions which do treat menstruation or menstrual blood as sacred or significant, then I don’t even know what to say.

      Eh. I come from a tradition in which menstruating women are seen as “powerful”, and there’s a lot of woo-woo talk about menstruation being this amazing female thing, blah blah, but it only ever translated to exclusion, marginalisation, shame and pain for me, and was actually pretty scarring, particularly when combined with my specific flavour of genderqueer. So, you know, while there are probably cultures that regard menstruation as genuinely sacred (somewhere? Native American cultures?), I tend to side-eye those who talk about how purifying or powerful or wev it is in the context of Hinduism at least, because it smacks to me of the kind of lip service paid to how empowerfulspiringtiful motherhood is, while simultaneously brutalising and erasing mothers in every way possible.

      1. chava
        chava July 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm |

        Word. The whole “powerful” thing usually translates into “we must keep your dangerous man-killing power are far away from the group as possible!”

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune July 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm |

        I mean, fuck, I wasn’t even told what had happened to me when I got my period, just made to sit in the bathroom for hours, bleeding out onto tiles, until my mother got home from the business trip she was on and gave me a pad. And then I was told I wasn’t to touch anyone, and everyone but my parents bathed if I accidentally bumped into them. When visiting other relatives (I was relatively lucky to have progressive parents), I was told to stay in one room of the house at all times, because it wasn’t logistically possible to relegate me to a shed anymore. Oh, and I was given my own cup and plate and bedding and water and food, which were to be washed outside the house and stored in a separate cupboard. And I was informed that food and medicines would spoil if I touched them, that I would wither sacred plants, and that I wasn’t ever to even say a god(dess)’s name out loud while “special” because it would taint the divinity in question. I was to cross the street rather than pass by priests/ascetics/temples with my “holy”, “powerful” body. Etc fucking etc.

        Special. Sacred. Yeah. Okay. Personally I’m down with ending those traditions. I’m quite all right with being a sacrilegious, filthy Westernised ingrate (yep, I heard those words from actual people) if it means I don’t ever have to drink from the bathroom faucet again because I can’t go in the kitchen to get clean water.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll July 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

          I’m disappointed that nobody pointed that out, but to be honest I’m not terribly surprised, either.

          Possibly because many of us from those cultures think it’s bullshit. There were things I wasn’t supposed to touch, during ceremonies…..they got touched. Spitefully.

        2. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll July 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

          And then I was told I wasn’t to touch anyone, and everyone but my parents bathed if I accidentally bumped into them.

          Though this is horrible, it would have taken my “not touching you, can’t get mad’ game to a whole NEW level with my little shithead brother. Also the little asshole would have spent 24/7 having to bathe. heh. heheheheheheheheheheheheheheheeeheh.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune July 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm |

          There were things I wasn’t supposed to touch, during ceremonies…..they got touched. Spitefully.

          Oh my god I am soooo glad I was not the only one who did that. I also visited one of my favourite temples while “dirty” without telling anyone. My basic thought process was “Well, I guess you fuckers won’t KNOW how I’m figuratively bleeding all over everything you love…”

          heh. heheheheheheheheheheheheheheheeeheh.

          You are evil and admirable. I never actually did this, but I sure thought about it…

        4. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll July 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm |

          Oh my god I am soooo glad I was not the only one who did that.

          Nope. You absolutely are not alone lol

        5. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll July 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

          And good luck bathing, because I’ll touch the soap too.

  32. Beckie Smith
    Beckie Smith July 15, 2013 at 11:51 am |

    I love this! I’m no fan of periods, which some people seem to see as disloyal to feminism. That’s always seemed odd to me as it’s more of an issue of practicality/pain than anything else, so this was really refreshing to read. Thank you!

  33. ChariD
    ChariD July 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm |

    THANK YOU!! I absolutely hated menstruating when I had a uterus. Now, I’m footloose, fancy-free and having no stained pants. Woo for me. :)

  34. amber p
    amber p July 15, 2013 at 3:17 pm |

    Here’s the deal. The first couple days of my period I typically bleed like I have Ebola. To go more than an hour between bathroom trips I use a tampon and an overnight pad. In order for me to embrace my womanhood (or whatever the kooks who think worshiping menstrual blood recommend I do if I care about feminism) I would have to stay home for about 3 days every month or go to work, but take a laptop into the bathroom with me. Tampons also allow me to go to the beach with my family while we’re on vacation (because nothing brings on a period like a scheduled vacation). If anything I’d say tampons are liberating. They don’t mean I hate my body or anything like that. Their existence means I can continue living my normal life all month long. And no, I won’t consider a Diva cup or anything similar. And for those who might be concerned about a medical condition, I’ve been a heavy bleeder since I started my period in middle school (I’m now 34) and so far none of my docs feel it’s an issue that needs addressing.

  35. lilith danne
    lilith danne July 15, 2013 at 5:24 pm |

    While I am not a fan of my period and it was painful and bothersome before I went on hormones the menstrual blood itself doesn’t bother me. I used to find it gross but I grew out of that feeling I don’t know why we see a menstrual blood as a body fluid more inline with feces than seminal fluid or even urine is kinda sad to me. Why do most people who cut their finger seem less discussed with that then the latter?

    1. Kittehserf
      Kittehserf July 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

      I could give a reason for myself – ‘cos the damn bowels always want to join in the fun. A certain looseness there has long been part of those days of the month for me. Oh joy, she said sarcastically.

    2. JBL55
      JBL55 July 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm |

      I don’t know why we see a menstrual blood as a body fluid more inline with feces than seminal fluid or even urine

      Maybe I’m oversimplifying things, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t. Menstrual blood is essentially a waste product, not unlike feces and urine.

  36. Meaghan W
    Meaghan W July 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm |

    “But if I just want to put on a pair of snug, white pants and wait for the communists to march on by” hahaha I love this!

    I don’t really find mine gross, but yeah I don’t enjoy it! Can’t do cups or tampons either, just too uncomfortable. “DRY WAD OF FUCKING COTTON??” – The VMs hahaha

    1. Kittehserf
      Kittehserf July 18, 2013 at 6:32 pm |

      Me too! Cups aren’t sold here that I’ve ever seen, but I tried tampons once or twice and OW. Horrible damn things.

      Plus I read recently that they should really only be used on the heaviest days, which kind of limits things. Bad enough buying liners and heavier pads, I’ve no wish to buy MORE stuff to deal with it. I wouldn’t feel secure anyway, not having a pad in.

  37. lilith danne
    lilith danne July 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |

    My period gets on my nerves and I don’t like it before I had my hormones fixed I was a wreck. But I have no problem with the menstrual blood itself to me its no different than seminal fluid. I find it sad menstrual blood is seen as disgusting to most people but not the blood they bleed from there finger. But that’s just my opinion.

  38. Katherine
    Katherine July 16, 2013 at 11:52 am |

    Pretty much the only good thing about being pregnant for me was not having periods! Everyone swore up and down that breastfeeding on demand would slow the return of them. Not that I breastfed because of that, but I was pretty damn disappointed when my periods returned after only six weeks. I’d only just stopped bleeding from the birth for Maud’s sake.

    That all said, I can understand the desire to push back against “menstruation is gross”. I had one boyfriend who leapt away from me in horror with a loud “eeww!” when I told him I was having my period. Blood may or may not be gross, depending on your personal sensibilities, but blood=gross translating to menstruating-woman=gross has been pretty common over time.

  39. MadHatter
    MadHatter July 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm |

    Thank you for saying it! My mother was so excited when I got mine, and never understood why I wasn’t. To this day she will say that she liked her “friend” visiting and is horrified when I say I can’t wait to never have one again. And I admit, now that I’m older anyhow, mine is not one of those monthly horror stories. But it’s not something I look forward to.

  40. Moniqa Aylin
    Moniqa Aylin July 16, 2013 at 2:50 pm |

    Awesome post. Menstrual blood never bothered me any more than other fluids, but the excruciating agony of bed-bound cramping and backaches, bleeding up to 10 days in a row out of a ridiculously short 22-day cycle, and stabby ovarian pain the rest of the cycle made me consider self-inflicted hysterectomy by rusty spoon every month of every year until I got on the shot and could actually be a human being again. Living menstruation-free kept me from flunking out of college or losing my job. My vagina and I can actually be friends now and have lots of good times together and with others instead of constant animosity. I don’t get to dance for joy of a vacant uterus every month, but now every day!

    1. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll July 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

      And another thing. I dont believe that men are afraid of menses or blood. I think they are TRAINED to have such violent reactions to it. Because sperm? Come on. That isn’t replicated anywhere else but from a guys junk. Everybody bleeds. Only men blow some kind of acidic snot out of their genitals. So do you see women making up dehumanizing memes to pass down to the next generation of girls? The fact that that ‘I dont trust anything that bleeds’ is so widely known and there is no female equivalent to men and semen says quite a lot. And I phrased what I said in such a crude insulting way on purpose to prove that point. 7/08/13 9:52pm

      This made me choke on a sunflower seed. Awesome. Awesome awesome awesome!

      1. Kittehserf
        Kittehserf July 17, 2013 at 10:30 pm |

        The “I don’t trust anything that bleeds” phrase is worse than that – as I’ve seen it, it’s “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die”. Which is far more misogynistic, to my mind.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve July 18, 2013 at 11:37 am |

          The “I don’t trust anything that bleeds” phrase is worse than that – as I’ve seen it, it’s “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die”. Which is far more misogynistic, to my mind.

          It doesn’t make sense the other way,unless you’re saying you don’t trust ANYONE, which has nothing to do with menses. I bet the commenter meant to write “I don’t trust anything that bleeds…” but left off the ellipsis.

          Which brings up a point. Why do we think it’s horrible if someone, for example, says they hate Jews, yet if someone says they hate all people then that’s somehow acceptable? I mean, the person who hates everyone still hates Jews- at least the anti-Semite likes some people. Although, I honestly believe people say ‘I hate all races equally’ in order to make their racist comments acceptable to people who buy that line.

        2. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet July 19, 2013 at 11:26 am |

          @Fat Steve:

          Misanthropes as a group are probably never going to gain institutional power to oppress humankind. Even so, they cannot make anti-human laws without hurting themselves as well. I don’t think it’s possible to “other” humanity as a whole, especially when the person doing the othering would be in the othered group.

          You cannot take all of humanity and make it less human. Othering just doesn’t work that way; it’s about a sub-group of people making themselves in and another sub-group out. For there to be an out there has to be an in, and a misanthrope basically says everyone is out and no one is in.

          Such is not the case for individual -ist groups. A racist can pick a group and make them out to be not as human as the in-group, and thus not seen as deserving of humane treatment and equal rights.

      2. Funty
        Funty July 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |

        Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t this just fall under some more “don’t trust men and the scary things they can do”?
        Are we in the business of taking them as specific body parts, to dehumanise them and take the hate as easy, bite size chunks? No, that’s their game.

        We’re not making them wear condoms ‘cos they look pretty.

        Also, why aren’t they more afraid of the spermicidal bleach we secrete? Mine’s strong enough to to turn my black knickers orange It can and will destroy millions of wriggling half men.
        Fear me.

        Also, we tolerate them, Fat Steve, because they also hate themselves and must live with hate until it ends.

    2. Willemina
      Willemina July 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

      Not really my cup of tea, and his reaction to a pretty obvious performance gimmick was sooo pearl-clutchingly trite.

      Maybe I’ve just had too many blood clean up trainings, but the idea of someone walking around in a crowded room dripping and smearing blood makes my skin crawl. Sure it’s fake, and so many punk rawk people have done so much more real or more hardcore but it’s just grody.

      Fearing the act in general is dumb, everyone poops, everyone sneezes, everyone drops some kind of liquidy excretion out of their reproductive holes. Playing with said outputs, worshiping said outputs, well, there are movies if that’s your thing.

  41. Athenia
    Athenia July 17, 2013 at 5:04 pm |

    1. I don’t understand why they think tampons don’t make you “interact” with your blood. You pull the darn thing out, don’t you?

    2. I generally hesitate to call menstrual blood “gross” because my brother thought *unused* packaged pads were “gross.”

  42. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve July 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

    To respond (only) to the reactions of the male ‘allies’ up above, I find that if you allow the person having the menstrual period to dictate how they react to that specific menstrual period, you can’t go wrong. As someone who has lived with a woman for 20 years, yet to whom this came instinctively, I can’t believe I actually have to tell other men this. (That’s an expression…I can actually believe it, I just mean it’s seriously fucking stupid.)

    1. Kittehserf
      Kittehserf July 17, 2013 at 10:27 pm |

      Hear, hear, Steve!

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve July 18, 2013 at 11:39 am |

        Hear, hear, Steve!

        By the way, congratulations on your promotion from unpaid help to serf!

        1. Willemina
          Willemina July 18, 2013 at 11:46 am |

          Isn’t that a demotion?

        2. Kittehserf
          Kittehserf July 18, 2013 at 6:29 pm |

          LOL thanks, Steve!

          Willemina – more like a sideways shuffle, I think. Though it acknowledges that I ain’t going nowhere while the furry overlords are around.

          Hmm, there should be a word for it … kinda like feudalism … furdalism?

  43. MicNikki
    MicNikki July 18, 2013 at 11:03 am |

    Menstruation didn’t make me feel at one with all of female humanity. It didn’t make me feel like a sister to the goddess. It felt like the lining of my uterus was sitting in my underpants, which is not where God intended it to be. And when it got on my pants, the fact that it was precious and beautiful menstrual blood made it no less a spot of blood on my pants.

    True story: When I got my first period, I didn’t know it was a period. I knew about menstruation, but I always assumed it would look bright red like regular blood. I didn’t know that sometimes periods can look more brownish than red. So I thought I shit my pants. I tossed the panties in the laundry, embarrassed, and then ruined a second perfectly good pair. I thought something was seriously wrong with me because I kept somehow shitting all over myself without realizing it.

    Not a magical experience, folks! And it certainly doesn’t make you feel “womanly” to think your bowels are somehow reverting back to their potty-training days.

  44. Cara
    Cara July 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm |

    Thank you!! This is me exactly. I don’t feel shameful or embarrassed by my period, but neither do I want to celebrate it. It’s an awful time of the month I’d rather just skip…I feel gross and miserable whether I use a tampon or pad. Thankfully I’m in the process of “phasing it out” entirely with birth control, and no, I don’t feel any less of a woman for doing so. I feel liberated!!!

  45. calmyogi
    calmyogi July 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |

    I don’t celebrate anything, or dance around. I find the blood gross and try hard to dispose of it quickly. I get bloated, crampy, and emotional, but I still use a cup and reusable pads. I empty the cup put it back and then wash my hands very well afterwards. This doesn’t mean I enjoy digging around my vagina, or dance every month when my menses comes. I don’t feel that my choice in how i catch my monthly blood means I enjoy my womenly situation anymore than the author. From what i just read I feel that the author isn’t as comfortable with her body as she believes she is.

  46. calmyogi
    calmyogi July 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |

    It has also been my experience that women that have severe pain and are bed ridden are unhealthy to begin with. Either they are overweight and don’t eat properly, or have something wrong with their parts. I have never met a women who is healthy and fit who complains that much about her period.

    1. Kittehserf
      Kittehserf July 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

      Your experience =/= everyone. Most of the women I’ve known who’ve suffered severe pain have been healthy in other respects. Does my anecdata cancel yours?

      Knock it off with the body shaming, assumption that “overweight” = unhealthy and not eating properly, and implicit “you brought it on yourself” line, kthanks.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 6:43 pm |

      Go tell my slim, athletic cousin who used to run marathons and play volleyball for her district that her crippling endometriosis-induced period pain was caused by her unhealthiness and that she’s just complaining. She has a most righteous left hook and I will most enjoy watching.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L July 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm |

        My son has a perfectly healthy, not “overweight” friend whose periods used to be so painful when she was in high school that once when she was home alone she panicked and called 911. So no, I don’t buy your theory.

    3. Radiant Sophia
      Radiant Sophia July 18, 2013 at 11:04 pm |

      Blaming someone for their period being painful is equivalent to blaming them for having a period in the first place. Why are you choosing to do that here?

    4. Ledasmom
      Ledasmom July 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm |

      Seriously, that’s a pretty crappy attitude – and “something wrong with their parts”? Way to be so vague that you can claim that anyone’s experience fits under that very broad umbrella you’re hoisting there, calmyogi.
      For what it’s worth, I never minded menstrual blood too much until I had my miscarriage. Not a matter of any emotional weight attached to it, you understand, just that, after several days of truly absurd bleeding (featuring the never-to-be-forgotten sensation of large blood clots slithering out of my vagina), I was well over it. Just don’t want to deal with the whole menstrual blood thing anymore; I have done enough of that.

    5. JBL55
      JBL55 July 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm |

      Look up the word “anecdotal” before posting such pointless generalities.

  47. Jena
    Jena July 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm |

    I use a menstrual cup, and while I appreciate that menstrual blood is way cooler than pads and tampons let you experience (I had no idea that its consistency and appearance varied so much in the course of one period), I’m still eager to get the cup dumped and reinserted and not need to think about it again for the next 6-12 hours. I don’t feel so much grossed out by it as just inconvenienced. The blood isn’t the worst part of my period.

    Also, one of the best things about nursing my daughter for 2+ years was not getting my period back for nearly 2 years. And now that I’m pregnant again, I hope that nursing our second kid will keep my period on hold for an additional two years. I don’t like the idea of using hormonal birth control to delay or stop my periods, so I won’t be doing that, but I certainly do appreciate why others choose to.

  48. Julie M.
    Julie M. July 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm |

    You have a right to feel however you like about your own period. Especially if you happen to be feel bloated, hormonal, or the physical pain which some people, not all, certainly get.
    (I personnally don’t suffer from endometriosis or any horrible painful condition like that, so for me periods are just one weepy emotional day where I need to stay away from trouble and confrontation, and one day of mild cramps. And it’s been going on for 15 years now, so I’m used to it, I can cope just fine).

    Just realize that how you feel, beside actual pain, is the result of a social construct. Let’s just imagine, purely on a theroretical basis, that you were raised in a society that regarded period stains as a source of pride and celebration or just no big deal instead of the huge shame and fear it is in the average high school nowadays, OR if you were raised to eat your boggers because that’s what everyone did ? Well, you wouldn’t feel that way. That’s all the original article was saying. There’s a social construct attached to periods, and it influences how you feel about them, and to some extent, the choices you make regarding them.

    And a few other facts don’t hurt :

    That awful stink of your trashcan ? that doesn’t happen with cloth pads and menstrual cups, just FYI. Because they don’t rot in your pants or trash and grow so much bacteria while your blood and sweat are soaking in unbreathable plastic. So blame your style of protection, not your own blood.

    And those favorite undies and pants of yours ? they are not “ruined”. Just learn to take care of them. Peroxide, oxyclean powder, cold water, even specific stain fighting products if you want to be particular about it, there’s a milion ways to treat them nowadays. Besides, who’s going to inspect your underwear?
    So again, it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Just like it’s not a big deal having to shower or take a dump every day (and yeah that stinks, eeew!), it’s just basic maintenance. Why all the shame and stigma ?

    1. Kittehserf
      Kittehserf July 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

      Heartily agree, but I will quibble (because I can, heh) about two minor things: I have never smelled any blood-related odour in my rubbish bin, whether the little one in the loo or the main one. Food scraps make worse smells and cat poo makes much</em worse smells. :)

      I don't care about long-term faint stains on my underwear either; I have plenty, and yeah, they wash out easily enough. Nobody who matters minds, and those who'd mind if they saw them don't matter. It's when the blood's soaked through my outerwear that I'm annoyed, because 1) it happened once on a plane, and wtf am I supposed to do to clean it up there; 2) jeans that fit are not easy to find; 3) stains on outerwear are not easy to hide.

      Cups and reusable pads aren't around here, btw, and I can't wear tampons.

      1. Kittehserf
        Kittehserf July 18, 2013 at 6:22 pm |

        Oh crap, html fail! Try again (dear mods, would you get rid of that first italic-overload comment? Please?)

        Heartily agree, but I will quibble (because I can, heh) about two minor things: I have never smelled any blood-related odour in my rubbish bin, whether the little one in the loo or the main one. Food scraps make worse smells and cat poo makes much worse smells. :)

        I don’t care about long-term faint stains on my underwear either; I have plenty, and yeah, they wash out easily enough. Nobody who matters minds, and those who’d mind if they saw them don’t matter. It’s when the blood’s soaked through my outerwear that I’m annoyed, because 1) it happened once on a plane, and wtf am I supposed to do to clean it up there; 2) jeans that fit are not easy to find; 3) stains on outerwear are not easy to hide.

        Cups and reusable pads aren’t around here, btw, and I can’t wear tampons.

    2. Barnacle Strumpet
      Barnacle Strumpet July 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm |

      Just realize that how you feel, beside actual pain, is the result of a social construct.

      nope.jpg

      There are a lot of reasons you can develop an aversion to blood. They are not all put in your head by society. Associations of blood with pain, illness, death, injury, and other negative things, are pretty natural given that that is the personal context it’s usually experienced in.

      You can devlop positive associations as well, for various personal reasons. An uptick in one’s libido is often experienced before or during a period, and some people appreciate that.

      I’m not saying society’s issues have no affect on how people feel about their periods, but saying “How you feel toward X is a result of society” is a gross overstatement.

      That awful stink of your trashcan ? that doesn’t happen with cloth pads and menstrual cups, just FYI

      Yeah it actually does. Old blood in general does not have a good smell. Old blood in cloth or in a cup is not going to smell good either. I’ve gone the cloth route before. Definitely didn’t smell like roses. I wouldn’t describe it as an “awful stink” regardless, but if you’re not experiencing the smell it’s because you’re dealing with the old blood fairly quickly.

      I use the general “blood” because even blood or tissue from your arm or leg does not smell heavenly after it’s been lying in an old trashcan for a while.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune July 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm |

        Everything you said, from someone who’s briefly used (and virulently hated) cloth pads.

        Also, interestingly, period blood is the only blood that doesn’t freak me out, whereas the sight of someone else with a cut finger can leave me nauseated. (I don’t mind my own blood, too clumsy to be bothered by it anymore lol.) So you stick that under your lid and let it bubble, Julie.

        FFS.

      2. ch
        ch July 19, 2013 at 1:23 am |

        Yep, and when I used cloth pads I definitely had times when I didn’t clean them soon enough or dry them properly and they definitely started to get a mildewy musk in addition to (or instead of, when it was a drying rather than a cleaning issue) the blood smell. And I generally had time, space, and mental energy to wash and dry them most of the time. Some people don’t have those luxuries because of poverty, living situation (dorms, abusive relationships, living with parents, and that’s just off the top of my head), depression, other disabilities, all sorts of factors. Cloth pads are not a cure-all, and I say that as someone who still does use them on the rare occasion post-Mirena IUD insertion when I have a period heavy enough to need a full on pad.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L July 19, 2013 at 2:05 am |

          It reminds me of all the people who insisted when my son was a baby that cloth diapers were the only environmentally sound way to go.

      3. Kittehserf
        Kittehserf July 19, 2013 at 1:44 am |

        I’m just trying to picture my mum’s expression if I told her cloth pads are a thing again. She was born during the Depression and having to inherit old, thin, reusable pads was just one of the many humiliations of the time.

    3. Ledasmom
      Ledasmom July 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm |

      Oh, for fucksake. Maybe I just don’t want to bother with the fucking blood and cleaning it off any goddamn thing, which has in the past included my mattress, my pants, the car seat, the husband, etc. I do not want to deal with this stupid bleeding nonsense. It is silly and I do not approve of it. Just extra work I don’t need. And I am not particularly squeamish; if I’m at the tail end of my period (light staining) I wear black cotton underpants and to hell with it. Frankly, even one extra bit of washing to get rid of stupid unnecessary period blood is too much. It’s not serving any damn purpose and, after over 30 years of it, I want it damn well gone. So don’t tell me how easy it is to deal with; I am not giving a rip as to how easy it is to deal with. I simply do not see the point of dealing with it.

  49. Jaimie-Lyn
    Jaimie-Lyn July 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm |

    Here’s What I find particularly gross, the fact that workers have to wade through sewers of nasty tampons… thats what I find gross.

    I don’t do tampons anymore because I care that they clog up sewers and landfills and some poor somebody has to deal with it. Thats gross.

    Sorry for anyone who thinks they are convenient and all.. but tampons are just as gross as a cup or anything else. Face facts, menstrual blood isn’t pleasant. Deal with it and get over it.

    But try to keep in mind that by not using a cup or a reusable cotton pad, you’re just adding more nasty shit to the earth , and making some poor workers life that much more nasty.

    it shouldn’t have to do with loving your period or being at one with the goddess. It should be about being smart and Eco-friendly in a world already teeming with icky things.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L July 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm |

      I thought people knew by now that flushing tampons is a great way to clog the plumbing.

    2. Kittehserf
      Kittehserf July 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

      But try to keep in mind that by not using a cup or a reusable cotton pad, you’re just adding more nasty shit to the earth , and making some poor workers life that much more nasty.

      While you’re at keeping things in mind, please remember those products aren’t available even to all the people reading this blog. I’ve yet to see cups (which I couldn’t use anyway, if they’re internal) or reusable pads on sale anywhere, and I live in one of the largest cities in Australia, hardly a poor country.

      1. ch
        ch July 19, 2013 at 1:29 am |

        FWIW, I’ve only seen them in one brick and mortar store, and it was a super earthy hippy type place. I bought my cup and reusable pads online; I think that’s where most people who use them obtain them.

        Not that that contradicts your point– there are tons and tons of reasons not to use these products, and I don’t give a shit what menstrual products anyone uses anyway. Not even a little bit my business. Just pointing out that cups and cloth pads are not particularly widespread or accessible in the US either; I don’t think they’re widespread or accessible anywhere really. I don’t want you walking away with the impression that they’re available at every corner market here or anything.

        1. Kittehserf
          Kittehserf July 19, 2013 at 1:39 am |

          Thanks, ch! I was wondering if they were as common as they seem from the mentions here.

  50. JBL55
    JBL55 July 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm |

    Assuming this article by Ingrid Johnston-Robledo is not satirical, all I can say is that I hope I am never downwind from her on one of “those” days.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.