It is a truth of life that every day around 800 million women have their periods across the world. It is so much a natural process of life but still most of us consider it an awkward and disconcerting subject to talk about.
Leave alone the embarrassment, I am surprised that some women even feel it humiliating and excruciating to use the word that they have coined euphemisms to circumvent the usage of the word in their conversation. It is all due the discerning attitude to the men towards this perhaps one of the most pure acts of nature.
It is really unfortunate that that the extent of stigma surrounding periods has penetrated so deep into our culture and beliefs that women have been shunned and spurned during this occurrence. This is surely a disgrace and humiliation to Mother Nature and her most beautiful creation ever, the woman.
I tried to imagine whether our attitudes would have been different if men had periods. I imagined a world we suddenly wake up to in the morning, and find that viola! Men can menstruate and Women can no longer.
Bragging about periods about “how long” and “how much” on Facebook would suddenly become the in-thing and Hash tags like #IGotMyPeriods and #IAmOnMyPeriods would conceivably be trending on Twitter. Many more status updates would be seen on Facebook informing everyone that they are on periods and perhaps even invent and share “period emoticons” with friends.
It would not just be limited to the social media that men would swagger about their periods. We would find men congratulating and patting each other on their backs for overcoming yet another month’s gruelling battle against nature. “First period stag parties” to celebrate the welcome into man-hood would become a norm in offices and clubs and boys would try to show off with their other in schools and colleges of their “coming on” for the first time.
One thing I am absolutely sure about is that the world of sport would see a quantum change if men had periods. Statisticians would flaunt surveys to prove that men fared better in sports and won more medals during their periods. Sports range tampons and pads would be launched, cricketers would start endorsing different flavoured menstrual energy drinks “for that time of the month” and we would hear commentators discussing and arguing on how trainers and coaches should coordinate their players’ menstrual cycles to boost their performance. Perhaps, white sportswear would be banned and I can even imagine bookies factoring in a player’s menstrual cycle into their odds.
I have no doubt that even religion would not be spared. The God-men would declare that menopause be proclaimed as an important event in the life of a man, probably a symbol that men have amassed enough years of cyclical astuteness and intelligence that they need no more.
The religious fundamentalist would pounce upon “men-struation” as the ultimate “proof and evidence” that only men could serve God and be priests (citation: without a monthly purge of impurities, women are unclean) or perhaps even become God Himself (citation: He gave his blood for our sins) because women would be so ignorant of the symbolic death and resurrection every month.
The armed forces would be barred for women, they being declared incompetent enough to fight in combat (citation: You have to give blood to take blood) and the medical colleges may perhaps deny admission to the women (citation: They might faint at the sight of blood).
Boys and men alike would have a game, with young boys talking about periods as the envied beginning of manhood while grown up men would try to convince women that sex was more pleasurable at “that time of the month”.
Oh, yeah! There would be those radical and liberal men too, who would continue to insist that women are equal, but unfortunately just a tad different. They would propagate with conviction that women could surely join the ranks of men if they are willing to recognise the dominance of the menstrual liberties or at least be prepared to self inflict a personal lesion every month (citation: You must give blood to join the revolution).
It feels so depressing to see that practically every culture in the world has its own set of myths about periods, whether it is the belief that a touch from a menstruating woman will cause milk to curdle, plants to die and a mirror to lose its brightness way far in Nigeria to the belief that menstrual bleeding makes women “impure” and hence banned from entering even their own houses or interacting with family members in India and other parts of Asia to even the stupid belief that swimming in the sea while on the periods will get a woman eaten by sharks in America.
When we men cringe that women behave less rationally and more emotionally during their menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, what men don’t understand is the honest truth that in those few days of the month, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long.
I am not letting my imagination fly high, but the truth is that if men could menstruate, the justifications of their behaviour would go on and on.
Sharing the links of three short films produced by WaterAid that envisage what a man’s world would look like “if men had periods”
You can watch the films here: