Like most women of my generation who grew up in the 70's, 80's, and even the 90's, I kept my period and all of its' accoutrement in hiding. Tampons were tucked discretely between the waistline of my pants and my underwear on my way to use the restroom at school. A bleed-through on a pair of pants was the ultimate embarrassment and cause of public humiliation. My stomach still turns when I think of one such incident in high school while I was wearing my baby blue Dittos.
But (much) more recently, periods are coming out of the dark and tampons are seeing the light of day. The "tampon tax," where women are taxed by the state for buying menstrual necessities, has been repealed in eleven states so far and many more, including my state of California, have it up for debate. Women have posted online pictures of bleed-throughs, trying to normalize it. Companies such as Thinx (an underwear company that has period panties), take "period shame" to task on a daily basis. Periods are even discussed on network television. The taboo is being lifted.
And our girls are paying attention. On a recent car trip with four teenage girls, two of them had period stories to tell. Both stories involved the girls saying out loud to the teacher, in front of the entire class, that they were on their period and needed to use the restroom. One male history teacher actually told her that she could "hold it." Really?! Clearly this man is a history teacher and not a science teacher. In both cases, the girls asked respectfully to use the restroom and in both cases they were denied. These girls are good students, by the way. One laid the tampon at the front of her desk in plain view and kept raising her hand until she was finally excused. The other held up a tampon and asked again, in front of the class, to please be excused. I was so proud of these BOLD girls. There were high fives and lots of jokes.
Period shame shouldn't be a thing. It is a natural biological function that allows for the continuation of civilization. The male species needs to understand it, accept it, and yes, appreciate it. We need to put an end to separate videos in elementary school. It is science, not voodoo.
The girls in my car and thousands more like them are doing their part to let the tampon secret out of the box. The flood gates are open, so to speak. (My kids roll their eyes at my bad jokes but I can't help it!) The point is that the conversation has finally started. Keep it going! Periods happen. That's no secret.
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