Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Story By: Antra Dasgupta
A girl walked up to me in office and whispered in my ears “do you have a napkin”? Unfortunately, I didn’t and I saw the sheer discomfort on her face. So I asked her if I can get her one from the nearest drug store. To which she swiftly agreed. As I was leaving I asked her “do you have any specific brand”? The girl sitting next to her looked at me in disbelief and said “Antara why are you so loud? I am not uncomfortable but there are people who are. So please lower your voice”. I still wonder what I said that day which can put some of the people around me in discomfort. Sanitary Napkins? Periods?
Is it not a natural phenomenon which occurs to every woman once in a month? Isn’t it natural to an extent where a skipped period makes women think whether they have any abnormality?
Why do we play Chinese whispers when it comes to talking about periods? If we search the synonymous of the word “period”( noun.), you will find various other etymologies such as menstrual cycle, menses, menarche, menorrhea, catamenia etc etc etc… Instead why do we women choose to say “not well” on our periods?
The answer is “Superstitions”. In India, talking about periods is considered to be a taboo. And this internalized misogyny is not limited to only rural areas but very much embedded in the minds of the metropolis as well.
In fact, the whole concept of menstruation is very ironical in India. Apart from dowry and caste, a woman has to pass the test of giving her full account of her menstrual cycle to the in-laws before marriage. Hiding any imbalance on the cycle is considered as an act of offense for not disclosing the very fact of infertility before marriage. And the irony is, it is the same society where talking about periods openly is a taboo.
If all society wants is a fertile woman than why can’t we talk about our chums?
And the matter is not limited to talking about it openly. Our periods have become our identity as it has become a prerequisite necessity for women to be able to give birth to a son who can carry forward their name.
As an individual or a society as a whole, talking about periods openly should be normalized.