That time of the month

Menstruation holds unnecessary societal stigma

Story by Brynne Chandler, Staff Writer

A woman’s period goes by many names. There is the obvious, of course: a period, a menstrual cycle. There are the less well known ones like Aunt Flo or shark week. 

But somehow all of them bring on a feeling of disgust. Girls are taught from a young age to hide their periods because it’s something that society doesn’t want to know about. Boys must be taught to be disgusted by the mere mention of it, because it’s not an inherited repulsion.

For some reason, society is taught to hate this completely natural process. It’s something that has happened, or will happen, to the vast majority of women.

As a woman, I don’t see how it is seen as disgusting. It’s just something that us girls have to go through every month to prove that we don’t have a child growing inside us. 

Not only are girls taught not to mention their period, but they’re taught that anything that goes with it needs to be hidden. Even the words tampon or pad are enough to make grown men cringe. Middle school age boys scream at even the mention of the words. High school age boys cover their ears and groan at even the mention of the word period.

If many boys my age even see a sanitary product, they may scream about how disgusting it is, like the bright package burns their eyes. 

And my question is: why? Why do we teach our boys that sanitary products are something to be disgusted by? Men are taught nothing else about the menstrual cycles besides the fact that they’re “gross”. I’ve had to explain to teenage boys that we can’t just stop it whenever we want, and it’s just a constant experience we have to deal with. 

I’ve heard of women having to explain to grown, middle-aged men that sanitary products are a necessity. That we can’t just turn off our cycles, that the only way we can deal with them is with said products. 

Accessibility for period products has been a huge debate in recent years for this country. Sanitary products are largely pretty expensive. It may not seem like it when you look at the price of just one package or box, but when you think of the fact that women have to buy a new package monthly or every two months from the ages of 12 to 55, it adds up.

For women who are not in good places in life, sanitary products become very hard to get. Homeless women very rarely have the money to spare for sanitary products, and most of the time they have to go without. 

I’ve always personally wondered why there is such a stigma around these products. Even now, I guarantee that very few boys would read this article. They’d either look at the name or read the first paragraph and shudder in disgust. They would read the word ‘period’ and decide that this article was too gross to even be looked at.

My question is, why do these little cotton products cause so much distress? They are necessary sanitary products, just like body wash, shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste. Yet, somehow, just the words pad or tampon cause many people to run for the hills.