Earlier this week I wrote a period poem. In an effort to show my voice and expand my blog I posted it. I never imagined it would cause any controversy, but I was wrong. Certain people I know and love very well were very upset that I wrote a public blog post about something they felt should be kept private. For the last week I have been mulling this over in my mind, and finally I decided to write a post explaining why I write period poems, why I will continue to write period poems, and why I am happy to generate any type of conversation on the topic of women’s bodies.
According to quora.com, about 334 million girls and women are on their period right now. Answers.com says roughly 100 million women are pregnant right now. Almost one in five women have been sexually assaulted or raped. There are about 1.2 million abortions every year. About 1 in 4 women have miscarriages in their lifetime. These statistics are not just numbers, they are experiences shared by women all over the world. And, just in case you missed it, they are all related to periods and vaginas.
All of these topics are difficult to talk about, hard to find comfort and support for, and sometimes hard to even admit to, much like our periods. From a young age, we are told that our menstrual cycle is something to be ashamed of, to loathe and fear and hide. By asking young girls to be ashamed of their bodies, we are asking them to be ashamed of themselves. We are shaping the way they value themselves, and how they will fit into the world as they grow. In some cultures women are shunned during their menstrual cycles. In our culture, we separate her body from her soul, make it an object, a thing which anyone who feasts his eyes upon it may own. The fear of the unknown abyss of the wombs of all women has manifested in many different ways.
Periods, much like death and birth, are a form of blood magic. Every month women sacrifice their own blood, tissue, and tears, whether they like to or not, for the human race. Because women bleed, men may live. Wars are fought and wars are won, but we could live without them. The human race would go on. That is not true for periods. As vulgar and grotesque as they are, we would all die without them.
Why, then, should we be ashamed? Should we not be celebrating? Or at least develop some type of ritual, to remind us from where we came? If the way we viewed something as simple and natural as a period in a more positive light, could we change the way the world views women?
I will leave you with these questions. I would love to read your answers and general thoughts in the comments.
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This was my original inspiration for my period poem. I first saw this video in my WGS class last year, and I still watch it almost every month, around the time I start feeling sorry for myself.