‘Period or menstruation’ still considered a cringe-worthy topic in some parts of India, has indeed come a long way.
In some places, getting your first period is celebrated with aplomb while in a few others, you are outcast-ed from daily activities. Sanitary napkin commercials switching from using blue ink to ‘bleed red’ was indeed a turning point in getting conversations around period in the open. The stigma around menstruation is of course changing and the myths around it have been broken but we still have a long long way to go.
We asked a few women from different generations to share with us their views on the evolution of chatter around menstruation. Let’s take a look at what they had to say:
Nirmala Srivastava | Age: 72 years
Mrs. Srivastava gave a shy smile when asked how she dealt with ‘those days of the month’ in her times. In her times, getting your period was considered as the five most impure days of the month for women. They weren’t allowed to eat in the same room as others and weren’t allowed to step into the kitchen either.
However, unlike her friends’ parents, her’s did not send her to stay in the cowshed for those days. Period was something that everyone knew and yet didn’t speak about. Her parents did not have answers to why a woman gets her period and is treated so differently. The hush hush around period made her believe that she was being punished for doing something wrong. However, she agrees that times have changed where she now has answers all the questions raised by her daughter and grand daughter.
Radhika Agarwal | Age: 54 years
Mrs. Agarwal is delighted to share her views on this topic because she has personally lived the change. Although the chat around period was done behind closed doors, her parents did not impel her to follow any superstitions. The only thing that her mom asked of her was to not touch the idols of Gods during those days of the month.
As the years passed by, the makeshift cloth pad was replaced with soft sanitary pads. She still reminisces the time of this switch. It gave her the much needed relief. Soon, her parents got comfortable with watching sanitary pad commercials on TV without awkwardly switching the channel. Even at her workplace, colleagues including men understood that few days in the month are extra strenuous for women.
However, over the years, despite the progress Mrs. Agarwal still refrains from entering the prayer temple during her cycle. She says it’s just something that she has ingrained but would never pass it on to her daughters.
Supriya Pathak | Age: 27 years
Ms. Supriya Pathak laughs on hearing the question around menstruation and says, “oh, you want to speak about ‘chums’!” She says that for her and her friend circle, period has been a normal topic right from their school days. The ‘women health education’ session in school really eased it off even for the shy girls to normalise period talks. In fact, she and her group ensures that nobody uses “It’s that time of the month” as an excuse to cancel any plans.
But, Supriya agrees that the men in the group are still farther away from being vocal about it. They understand but are still uncomfortable talking about it.
There’s still a long time until the world accepts period as a perfectly natural thing but we are surely moving forward. The resolution to normalising it is ‘dialogue’. So talk more, spread the word and let’s together end the stigma around ‘aunt flo’.
Share your thoughts around how you think the conversation around menstruation has evolved, in the comments below.
Read about the evolution in the methods to deal with periods here.