The Red Badge of Courage


 Not sure if i should have put that picture up or not. I’m gonna go with it though, cos  it’s the point of my blog. Most women bleed. It’s true. You might not want it to be true, whether you bleed regularly or you don’t, but it is. Blood drips (or runs, sometimes) out of our fannies. It’s pretty crap mostly, but for me and many others, it’s also something pretty amazing, in a weird way. So i’ll leave that picture there. It’s a bit eww, but screw you, so are periods.

Oh yeah, this post is about periods. It’s mainly quite ranty (you know, just for a change) but also has some positive bits in. Periods are kinda a bit taboo, aren’t they? I mean, the majority of women aged between about 12 and 50 bleed roughly every 28 days. They get some discomfort and have to remember to take sanitary products with them for roughly 50 days every year, which is not far under 2000 days in their lifetime. It’s not dirty, it’s not dangerous and it’s not a secret, but talking about it is still rather unusual, even amongst friends. On Twitter, for example, i might compain about my crippling monthly cramps, but i’m less likely to do it on Facebook. If i do mention it to friends, it’s normally in a jokey way about how i’m going to shovel chocolate in my face or shout at a passing pigeon or something. So let’s shake the shame and share the (period) pain.

My periods make me sick. They keep me awake at night. They double me over and make me sweat and shake. They make me miss work. I’m not exactly representative, but nor am i a rare beast. In Indonesia women have a right to two days leave a month for their periods. In Japan women can take leave if their period would cause them specific difficulty whilst doing their work. South Korea goes even further and if women don’t take their ‘menstrual leave’ they’re entitled to extra cash in their pay packets! There are other countries that offer solutions for the 10-20% of us who actually can’t function normally just cos our wombs are pissed off we didn’t get knocked up that month. But in the UK and US, it’s more likely you’d get into trouble, or at the least have a bit of tutting thrown your way, if you called and said you were having a bad period. I’ve had to come clean at work and let them know that i’ve got specific problems, but before now i’ve tended to just say the symptoms when asked why i’m ill. Of course saying you can’t stop vomiting, sweating or that you have shooting pains in your back and legs which means you can’t sit or stand properly sounds horrendous. A man calling with those symptoms would certainly be advised to seek help for this. However, throw a ‘and my womb lining is dripping out of me’ symptom in there and you’re a workshy lazybum who needs to pull herself together. Men and women out there, be nicer to people who tell you they’re on t’blob, cos even if they’re not one of the extreme ones, it’s generally not a pleasant experience and they’ve not confided in you so you can make it worse for them, i promise you.

Another point on periods is how they’re portrayed in the media, namely in adverts. Back in the day (a well known period of history – ha, i said ‘period’) tampon and pad adverts tended to have the typical energetic, sometimes scantily clad and always really fucking happy, women prancing about skydiving, or chasing a dalmation, or water skiing. Something like this. No one wants to ‘live life to the full’ when they’re on, they just want to eat chocolate and for everyone to fuck off and leave them alone for a bit. And what was that weird blue liquid being collected in several years worth of ads? Who was confusing my menstrual fluid for the contents of a caravan toilet? I’m not sure which would have been better; the alien periods of the 1990s or something a little more, erm, realistic? Luckily the ad guys have learnt that we don’t want to be patronised, we don’t want to be lied to, we just want stuff that works, stuff that we don’t have to worry about and if that stuff can empower us and celebrate us, then even better. Check out this great American ad, for what seems like a great product too – it sends sanitary products and sweets out at the time of your period – like a little present to cheer you up. COOL. It really is like Santa for your vagina!

My last little bloody rant is at sanitary products. We pay the government for our rather considerate behaviour of not bleeding all over the shop. We pay a reduced rate, sure, but we still pay 5% to the government everytime we buy a bung. If we spend about a fiver on each period, we’re looking at around £2500 over a lifetime, which means the government is making about £125 from a massive group of the population that just can’t help it. Ok, this isn’t exactly millions, i’ll give you that, but considering that there are zero rates of VAT on items considered ‘essential’ and then you read this includes small caravans, postage stamps and lottery tickets, it kinda gets my goat that me bleeding every 4 weeks is considered a luxury. Asda pay the tax on behalf of the government though, so yey, go Asda!

So my post is done and i contemplated leaving it on a hilarious and original kinda ‘Respect menstruation, period’ but i’m not American and ‘Respect menstruation, full stop’ doesn’t really work. So i’ll just say bye.


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