JESSICA LEEDS RICHMAN ’20
Arts & Life Editor
I menstruate and I am proud of it. Since the age of 14 I have been privy to the the monthly shedding of the uterine lining, or endometrium as the medical world calls it. As women, our periods are usually shamed and seen as a means of inferiority. But I am here to set the record straight, and to help show that what may be seen as a weakness is actually a strength.
I have been fortunate and privileged enough to have grown up in a household where I could experience my period without any shame or having to keep things under wraps. In fact, when I got my first period, my mom congratulated me and gave me a heart shaped, pink balloon with a smiley face, and a bag of Andes mint chocolates. This first encounter helped me to internalize that this could, and should, be seen as a moment of celebration, not a moment of humiliation.
Another unique part of my first menstrual experience was having such wonderful support from my dad. I feel that oftentimes, certain aspects of our growth are set by society to be “handled” by one specific gender. I felt absolutely zero discomfort when discussing my period with my dad, and to this day I still ask him questions about my experience as a woman and specifically questions pertaining to gynecological needs. It does help that my dad is a physician, but I have found myself not to be as comfortable with all male doctors.
In 1978, one of my feminist icons and role models, Gloria Steinem, published a satirical piece in Ms. Magazine entitled “If Men Could Menstruate.” Though meant to be sarcastic and a discussion of the gender hierarchy and power regimes, Steinem raised many points relating to power justification of the sexes. She said, and I agree, that if men were the ones who experienced menstruation, then it would be seen as an honor, privilege and competition.
It is 2017, and arguments are still being made as to why women can not hold certain positions, due to how our bodies naturally function. Some individuals used menstruation as an excuse for why we should not vote Hillary Clinton for president. Let’s be real, she probably is not even menstruating anymore so this claim has no legs to stand on. To me, using periods as a reason to keep women out of certain spheres is absolutely ridiculous because it is out of our control. Also, without periods, none of us would even be here anyways. I understand that you need both a sperm and an egg to create a fetus, but since right now only those of us with uteruses and menstrual cycles can carry children in the womb, I think we deserve a shout out for that.
I would like to make sure it is clear that I recognize that not all self-identified women menstruate, and that some of us may not be able to have biological children. Additionally, there are some of us who do not have female reproductive organs, and that does not make these individuals any less of a woman.
It is way past time for the stigma behind periods to stop. So many of us have them, and we are worthy and beyond capable of anything we set our minds to. I refuse to stop talking about my period if it grosses you out, because I menstruate and I am damn proud of it.