Many menstruating individuals struggle with period stigmatization across many demographics. According to State of the Period, 76% of students say there is a negative association that periods are gross and unsanitary and 65% agree that society teaches people to be ashamed of periods. Many menstruating people feel discomfort and embarrassment surrounding their period, it stems from stigmatization due to lack of knowledge.
When I attended elementary school in Texas in the early 2000s, girls and boys were separated based on gender to receive a talk surrounding puberty. Girls learned about body hair, body changes, and menstruation. This separation from an early age already feels like something that should be hidden or ashamed of. If boys need to be separated from the conversation, then maybe girls shouldn’t be sharing what they learned. When I attended my puberty talk in elementary school, I didn’t want the boys to hear about the changes I was going to be going through. I was already embarrassed and I hadn’t even experienced it. The stigmatization that my mom had experienced relating to her period, was something that had already been ingrained in me.
Many women are still uncomfortable showing their menstrual hygiene products around men. 83% of students hide their period products when they walk out of class to go to the bathroom. Even if women aren’t talking about menstruation or things surrounding the conversation, most women don’t even want men to know when they are menstruating because they’re nervous men will think it’s dirty or disgusting. A universal experience for those who menstruate has yet to be normalized by half of the earth’s population. State of the Period 2021 states, 65% of people believe that society teaches people to be afraid of their periods.
We all can relate.
On Tik Tok, a creator named @brookemonk_ created a video captioned, “Girls know what I’m talking about.” In the video, Brooke is hypothetically asking another girl if she could “check” Brooke. Women understand that this means checking if another girl has bled through her pants while menstruating. Other Tik Tok videos show women creators asking guys if they can “check them” and the men are unsure of what that means. There’s an uneasiness when it comes to the topic of menstruation when it pertains to men.
Let’s change the game!
So what can we do to ensure a better hope for future menstruators? I think the best way to invoke change is to break the stigmatization surrounding menstruation. By granting men the opportunity to learn about menstruation from a young age, women and young girls can begin to feel more comfortable surrounding menstruation conversations. Now that I’m older, I wish that boys had been required to be a part of that conversation. To hear about the stigmatization surrounding menstruation is to begin understanding the normalcy surrounding menstruation.
How can you help?
You can visit the donate page to inquire about donating a number of femPAQ kits to local schools, classrooms, workplaces, correctional facilities, community centers and other areas that lack free and easy access to menstrual hygiene products.