Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier editor-in-chief
The other day, I dug a band-aid out of my bag as discreetly as possible, shoved it up my sleeve, and left the room to go to the bathroom, hoping no one would notice or hear the crackly plastic wrapper held awkwardly in my clenched fist.
Wait… no I didn’t. That doesn’t make sense. Why would I hide a band-aid?
It wasn’t a band-aid. It was, as I’m sure many of my female readers will have already realized, a pad. Or a tampon. A feminine hygiene product, if you will. For a lot of women and girls, this situation is all too familiar.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, “the menstrual cycle is the hormonal process a woman’s body goes through each month to prepare for a possible pregnancy.” At the start of a woman’s period, “the blood and tissue lining the uterus breakdown and leave the body… For many women, bleeding lasts from 4 to 8 days.”
Oh, I’m sorry! Too much information? This topic can make some people uncomfortable, hence the aforementioned surreptitious activity regarding the hygiene products. But guess what? No part of a woman’s period should be uncomfortable. Wait, no… no part of TALKING about a woman’s period should be uncomfortable. Also according to the Office on Women’s Health, “regular menstrual periods in the years between puberty and menopause are usually a sign that your body is working normally.” Working normally.
A menstrual period means a woman’s body is working normally, which is a good thing, last time I checked. Yet I cannot count the number of times I have shoved a pad up my sleeve, in my pocket, or in the deepest recesses of a securely zippered portion of my bag. I’ve been in conversations with women that honestly seemed more like drug deals when I or someone else needed a hygiene product in an emergency.
It wasn’t until very recently that I stopped to ask myself why I was trying so hard to conceal the fact that I, like most people who have uteruses, menstruate on a monthly basis. No one had ever told me I couldn’t talk about my period, it was just understood. I was surprised and yet not surprised to find that there really isn’t an explanation other than “It makes people uncomfortable.” Often, that phrase could be changed to “It makes MEN uncomfortable,” but that’s not always the truth either. Maybe it is a bit of an odd subject to discuss with male friends because there’s no aspect of shared experience, but that doesn’t mean it should be a taboo subject. A period is a normal part of the menstrual cycle, and the menstrual cycle is a normal part of a female person’s life. The best way to reduce discomfort around discussions of women’s periods is to normalize them. There is nothing to be ashamed about in having a period.
So, if you’re on your period, talk about it casually. If you’re in a terrible mood, say it’s because your uterus is on a mission to destroy you and you feel like you’ve been hit in the abdomen by a truck. If you need to stay in because of cramps, tell your friends. And stop shoving pads and tampons up your sleeves. If I’m being totally honest, there’s no way to do it discreetly. You might as well just flaunt it.