I’m Menstrual and I Know It

“So what are your plans for the weekend?” he asked me.

“No plans. I’m just staying in,” I replied.

“Why, are you ill?”

“No, I have my periods and I’m in pain.”

“Oh. Um… Let’s just call it ‘being in pain’ from the next time. I don’t quite feel comfortable talking about this.”

“IT’S A NORMAL THING THAT HAPPENS TO WOMEN EVERY MONTH AND I AM NOT EUPHEMISING IT, SO WHY DON’T YOU GROW UP!”

“You’re just getting so worked up because it’s that time of the month. It’s ok, I understand.”

 

Yes, this is an actual conversation that I had. With a fully grown man, not a teenage boy.

 

When I was 13, all the girls from my class were asked to get up and leave the regular classroom for a special lecture. I didn’t know whether to feel special or not. This was where we were informed about the red monster that would visit us every month for many years now. Since some girls had already gotten their periods, this brand new information shocked them. Yet, most of them were too shy to say ‘periods’ in front of a classroom full of females.

 

It’s called menstruation.

 

Over the years women have tried coming up with cover-up names for this phenomenon, periods being at the top of the list. But since it became common knowledge, we came up with dainty terms like ‘chums’, ‘birthday’ and so on. And up until the time I actually got my periods, I did not know what menstruation was. So the prior knowledge I had about this was through TV advertisements of Whisper or Carefree, and theories that my friends and I came up with, or vague parental answers. The most popular theory was that sanitary napkins are an equivalent of adult diapers for young girls who want to play tennis after school and can’t hold it in till they get home. (This made complete sense to me after considering the state of school toilets.)

It therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise that boys are alien to the concept and men are uncomfortable with it. Even autocorrect is hesitant to suggest the word ‘menstruation’. I still have female friends who won’t / are not allowed to cook, wash their hair while menstruating and much more. Also apparently, God and all things holy issue a collective restraining order against menstrual women. (This one I won’t protest against, mainly because I’ll take any excuse to stay away from religious ceremonies and temples).

But if you aren’t comfortable and prefer to hide behind black plastic bags and newspapers when you’re ‘in pain’, I am no one to stop you. I will, however, sneak up on you and scare you. Only, instead of ‘boo!’, I’ll say ‘menstruation!’

Advertisements

How to be a Good Indian Woman

It has come to my attention that many women have been demanding to be treated as humans. It’s not their fault, sometimes they aren’t educated about how they aren’t. Which is why I have prepared this guide, so that women know how to behave at every stage in life. 
 
1. When you are a child, you need not worry about this. Being a female child is in itself an accomplishment, since you were allowed to live. Concentrate on regular childhood things such as toys, food and hating school for a while.
 
2. As you grow older, you will begin to notice that society has begun molding you into the non-human that you are. Go with the flow. Remember that the position of Class Clown is reserved for boys. 
 
3. As you hit puberty, you must undergo the harshest training. You can communicate with boys, but the ratio of boys to girls you hang out with should never be 1:1. But if the number of boys exceeds the number of girls, run for your sake. And never be alone with unrelated males, because that means you are developing sexually. Do not argue about this; live in denial. Remember that this is your responsibility. Not the boys’. 
 
4. Pick a gender appropriate career, especially in the field of humanities. You may be forced to read about women’s liberation, but let that roll of your back. If you do pick something else, it is easier to avoid independent thought, but it is not lady-like.
 
5. At some point you may feel the need to date someone or be in a relationship. You must avoid these thoughts if you care about your future, and your reputation. Do not take the term ‘your reputation’ at face value. It is the collective reputation of your living, deceased and ancestral family. Only you can save it—by denying your natural urges. 
 
6. Remember to always smile and be bubbly and vivacious, but in a controlled manner. Being shy and ill-adjusted to your surroundings is helpful. Remember to not be too friendly towards males, because then you may be labelled as a slut. This counters the reputation we talked about in the previous point. 
 
7. If you do feel like giving in to dating, always pick from the men who are interested in you. It is wrong to decide who you like and then go for it. When agreeing to date, always date someone who pledges lifelong commitment. Whether that is followed through or not is irrelevant. Casually getting to know someone before you get into a relationship is not an option. Physical relations outside the bonds of holy matrimony without the purpose of baby-making aren’t permitted. 
 
8. In your early twenties, you will either have the option of an arranged marriage or to magically pop out a boyfriend whom you wish to marry. The second option is only available to girls who have not followed Rule No. 5. Even so, make sure the man is from your religion/caste/sub-caste, just to avoid unnecessary complications. 
 
9. You must undergo a painful ceremony called a ‘wedding’ where you will be hidden under make-up, heavy jewellery and flashy clothes. You must be nice to everyone here. Your husband’s family now owns you so you better suck up. Your late twenties are the alarm zone to get married. If you aren’t hitched by the time you hit thirty, you are required to waive off ownership of your breasts, vagina and other feminine parts. (Oh wait. They were not yours to claim anyway.)
 
10. After your marriage, you are required to live a life of servitude. You must try your best to produce a son, because he can marry a girl for you to torment. Sorry, I mean educate.