It Happens – Get Over It!
Why treat sanitary pads like radioactive isotopes, asks Twinkle Khanna
You know that moment when you walk into a store to buy your pads and the shopkeeper awkwardly shoves it into a brown paper bag to hide it from the world, as if he has the right to be ashamed for you. Or the time in Ramadan, when you’re not fasting and it must be kept quiet, ‘chhupa kar rakhna’ – even though it’s not your choice. Even the moments where you discuss your period only amongst women, or when you’re stopped from going into the kitchen and told ‘achaar mat kholna’. You’re made to feel dirty, when really, you’re healthy.
Women across the country suffer as a result of this stigma and are all feeling it too. But that is all it is – a stigma. It is not the reality of menstruation. The shame associated with talking about periods needs to end. Every day we hear health complaints, this hurts or that is broken but the monthly cramps that many women go through can’t be discussed. Furthermore, pregnancy and childbirth are topics of many people’s concern, yet periods, which play a primary role in the process of reproduction, are considered a taboo.
The word ‘period’ can’t be said on TV, school textbooks discussing reproduction are taped shut, even mothers often fail to be open with their daughters regarding the reality of their bodies. If we, as the youth, begin to break these social barriers, we can ensure a future generation that understand their bodies and are not afraid to talk about the simple notion of periods. Period.
Growing up in an all-girl school, being raised by female teachers who were too conservative to talk about periods, my first period took me by surprise. It was during school hours that I was first terrorised by the blood that stained my underwear. I turned to the women that I expected to take care of me and was brushed off and ignored when I needed them the most. I was made to stand in class, as their main concern was the maintenance of their furniture rather than a young girl’s distress. Several of my friends experienced the same thing as I did, and we were left to our own devices; made to, unaided, figure out the one thing we didn’t understand.