If you want to get an idea of how people feel about something, a good place to start is Twitter. It’s not always pretty, but it will do the trick. For Women’s History Month, Janelle Monáe stirred the pot when it comes to period talk on social media by writing simply, “Menstrual Period Blood” in a tweet. And then Janelle Monáe started taking down period shamers left and right. It was sort of fun to watch.
After her first tweet, she added, “It’s sad that there are prob folks more grossed out by and/or ashamed of menstrual period blood than they are the current administration.”
Unfortunately, she was totally right. Almost immediately, a woman responded by saying that she thought menstrual blood was gross. But Monáe wasn’t having it. She asked the woman to elaborate, drawing, of course, an entire thread of men and women weighing in on both sides. Monáe closed the argument, tweeting that using language like “gross,” “causes the person on the receiving end to feel ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated, etc. therefore leading to ‘period shaming.'”
The reactions were all over the place. Some women chimed in that menstrual blood is “waste” and, just like poop or urine, is therefore “gross.” Others were so thankful that Monáe was talking about period blood and agreed with her that calling it gross teaches women that they shouldn’t even talk about it.
Women do learn from a young age that talking about your period is taboo. We even make up silly names for it like “flo” or “that time of the month.” Instead of being embarrassed by it, we should just accept it. Just like we shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed to admit that yes, we also poop. (BTW, we should all at least start acknowledging that fact, too.) None of it is gross, it’s natural. It’s our bodies working. Getting your period usually just means you’re healthy.
Not only is important to empower girls when they’re young and get their period, but period shaming and tiptoeing around it is an economic issue. It’s one of the reasons that most states tax tampons and pads when they’re actually necessities. It’s why homeless shelters and schools don’t have budgets to provide feminine hygiene products to women, even though it’s just as necessary as toilet paper. It’s why men are taught to not want to have sex with you while you have your period and subtly suggest a few days of oral instead, which is complete BS. When you period shame, you’re playing with other women’s money and their sex life. That’s not cool, friends.
So sure, if you don’t like blood in general, go ahead and be squeamish. But don’t be grossed out by your menstrual blood. It gets us nowhere.