What if I told you that once roughly every month your forehead would start bleeding and with that, you would get a killer headache as well.
That would kind of suck, wouldn’t it? What if I also told you that even though this would be an entirely natural, unavoidable process, some people would be grossed out by it, others would make weird symbolisms out of the (again, entirely natural) process and a third group would blame any kind of negative emotion you have on the process, thus undermining any legitimacy of the formation of that emotion.
If, dear reader, you know what I’m referring to by now, congratulations are in order. You have the most basic propensity for allusion. I am, in fact, referring to menstruation. If your immediate reaction to that word is repulsion, that’s not great. But if we’re being honest, who can blame you?
Men have been conditioned for most, if not all, of our lives to both objectify and be disgusted by female bodies, and nowhere is this tendency more on display than the menstrual cycle.
The problem with this, aside from it being downright rude and disrespectful, is that it in many ways blocks some of the age-old policies we have about women’s health from much-needed reform.
To go back to the head metaphor, imagine you needed a special kind of bandage to stop the forehead blood, and now imagine that not only were those bandages expensive, but also taxed by the government.
I think most people would say that’s ridiculous, and that this bandage should be cheap, if not a public good, and provided everywhere. But this is a reality that people who get periods face everywhere, and it’s perpetuated because many of us men are too grossed out by periods to even talk about the bullshit policies that surround them.
Men, we have to recondition ourselves. If we don’t, then we are selfishly allowing fellow human beings to be treated unfairly simply because we feel uncomfortable.
To further this point, this isn’t simply a gender issue. This is a race and class one as well, since the weight of feminine hygiene products impresses the most on those who can’t or who can hardly afford them.
So, the next time a friend of yours complains about their period, just remember the head analogy. Don’t get grossed out, empathize as best you can and then go out and vote for someone that would do the same.