Moments that make you think.
This really wasn’t what I had planned to write about this weekend. I had wanted to discuss something a little lighter, a little nicer, a little less emotionally charged.
Yesterday, I was lecturing on my favourite topic – gender. It’s a short session, just two hours, and measly in comparison to those who have the capacity to discuss gender in much more depth over a longer period. The session itself was wonderful – gender always seems to spark engaged and critical discussion. This is not what got me choked up (literally, I teared up and had to take a minute to breathe).
We were just starting to talk about social and cultural issues in the understanding of PMS. I asked what I thought would be a quick question, with maybe a few responses, to illustrate a point and move on.
I asked the women in the room – who has been asked if you are on your period as a ‘reason’ for being angry or upset? Every. Single. Hand. Went. Up.
None of the students were surprised.
The combination of these two things really struck a chord with me, I was really shocked – not for the fact they had been asked this (which still does not make it okay), but for the absolute lack of surprise for this being a thing.
A normal bodily function, menstruating, being synonymous with anger and upset, as though women cannot have a valid reason to be angry and upset without it having to resort to this. And how this positions periods as something bad, linked to negative emotions – out of women’s control. Emotions out of control. Women do not have control.
That almost 50 women, of all ages, colours, religions, abilities, have been asked this, and that this is not surprising. It has really stuck with me.
This kind of response should not be a given. It is NOT okay. Women have valid reasons to be angry and to be upset. To assume that this relates directly to bodily functions is to invalidate the reasons for the anger and the upset. It makes me more angry and more upset that this is not questioned more.
To take a note from the wonderful book, Feminist Fight Club – are you a tampon? NO. A women’s periods are none of your fucking business.