February 15, 2016

Period Club

Macho guys and squeamish girls, look away now.

I’m talking about something that happens once a month to half of the population and yet I still feel like I’m a member of some twisted secret society. First rule of Period Club: Do not talk about Period Club. We are essentially bleeding for a quarter of our lives and we are supposed to shut up about it.

I consider myself to be extremely open with my girlfriends and still, there is rarely more discussion than gentle moaning about cramps and asking to borrow a tampon. I feel like the Empress of Vulgarity if I admit that I’m on the rag. Meanwhile, society implores us to use twee euphemisms like ‘Aunt Flo is in town’ or ‘I’m having my monthly visitor’. CAN WE STOP PLEASE, WE SOUND LIKE IDIOTS.

We daren’t mention the ‘P’ word to our male counterparts, opting for a silent knowing nod when it’s ‘that time of the month’. God forbid we’d burden them with the mention of our distasteful affliction; it must be ever so hard to hear about it. Like the repeated sensation of a punch in the gut, perhaps.

Like many other girls, I’ve suffered at the helm of Mother Nature. Abdominal pain has brought me to my knees and out of consciousness on more than one occasion. Once was at an altar while serving Mass, that was a good one. Another was the morning I was due to give a joint speech as a Student Council Co-President (sorry again for that, Heather.) After lesser pills proved futile, I resorted to the contraceptive pill to avoid the agony. I felt I had to whisper the word *cramps* in order to justify my prescription and clear my name as a 14-year old hussy.

We have suppressed ourselves for far too long; we need to divulge the gory details. Periods are fucking nasty. Sometimes there are leaks. Sometimes there is a lot of blood. And other stuff that’s not quite blood and makes you wonder if you are dying. Sometimes it messes up your large intestine. Yeah, that’s gross. But we’ve already accepted our personal impurities with countless cringey film scenes and hilarious poo stories; surely we can incorporate the monthly bleed?

There is a hysterical scene in Amy Schumer’s comedy Trainwreck, where she fears her new boyfriend discovering one of her used tampons in the toilet, likening it to a massacre of Quentin Tarantino proportions. It’s bold but it’s so refreshingly honest, I nearly wet myself. Not literally, of course. I wasn’t on the rag.

There is a bit of a revolution brewing. People are starting to talk about periods. And we are demanding more. For example, serious lobbying is necessary for the abolition of the luxury tax on sanitary products. I’m supposed to consider it a luxury that blood isn’t dripping down my legs? Slap a tax on toothpaste and toilet paper while you’re at it.

For girls that prefer not to ride the cotton pony, there is the Mooncup. It has mixed reviews but if you’re sick of doing tampon math before you go to sleep, I’d give it a try. Please note however, it is not one for the fake nail enthusiasts.

Failing that, the chief alternative to a tampon is the disappointing sanitary pad, (or jam rags, as I have heard them be affectionately referred to). They make you want to shower five times a day whilst providing the rustle of an actual nappy in your adult years. Fantastic.

Always, we’re sick of your shit too. Can we be realistic and not have another fucking ad where women are running through alpine meadows and doing yoga poses in exceedingly bright rooms? Give us an ad where we are curled up on floor yelling for mercy, and I’ll believe in your marketing ability.

I don’t mean to be biased here, but I honestly believe that if men had periods, we would live in a different world. If man flu is anything to go by, there’d be a serious influx of hot water bottles and multipacks of Lindt. Followed by a lot of high-fiving and back-patting once they successfully soldiered through another month. Pads wouldn’t be flowery and fresh companions, they would be ULTRA ABSORBENT EXTREME TO THE MAX PROTECTORS OF THE GROIN. And I would welcome it, just so they could share such delightful experiences as soaking right through a mattress or welling up at a Calor Gas ad.

It’s time to shed the shame. Don’t pardon the pun.

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