Since my childhood, I have seen many instances where mothers usually tell their daughters to keep it a secret from others when they get their periods.
It is natural that girls feel scared and fearful and have no idea of what is happening to their bodies during puberty. Added to that fear is to maintain it a secret as if she has committed a crime.
Menstruation is a natural and biological process that every woman goes through every month for about half of her life and is a significant reason for our existence. Yet, it is still considered taboo and is ingrained in all of us by our society, culture, and religion.
Why do men feel awkward talking about periods?
The simple answer to this question is, they are taught to feel so. Yes.
Woman, during her periods, is tagged impure, and she is not allowed to enter the kitchen or touch any objects of religious importance. And mothers even teach their daughters not to play with boys once she starts getting her periods.
We grow up by learning from our elders. Boys are taught since childhood that it is a girl issue. Sometimes, even if a boy asks what has happened to his sister, parents try to divert the topic or say it is not their business.
In many schools, only girls are taught about menstruation and the female reproductive system in a separate class, while boys are not. Many teachers skip the topic altogether because they feel uncomfortable talking about periods.
What is it wrong to teach boys about menstruation and the female reproductive system?
Nearly every girl and woman might have the experience of hiding their sanitary napkins and lie about why they are not feeling well and suffer in silence during periods. It is because most women feel awkward and uncomfortable talking about periods with their husband or father.
How many girls talk to their father or brother or a male friend about menstruation or ask them to buy sanitary napkins for them?
It is a fact that most men are unaware of the word menstruation and do not even know that women bleed every month!
Women talking about periods with the men in the family is also seen as taboo today. Ironically, most of the men are not even interested to know about menstruation and the pain. They feel that it is a girl thing, and we have nothing to do with it.
How can men help women during periods?
It is no secret that periods are painful and stressful for every woman. Men need to understand and acknowledge the difficult times of women.
If you are not aware of what you can do, search the internet, and there are plenty of resources that help you know all about menstruation.
Assure her that you do not feel disgusted about her periods. Hold her hand and make her feel better. Try to share the work of household chores. Get some fruits. If possible, spend some time with them so that they feel relaxed.
There are men and women out there who try to teach you about the disgusting taboos of our culture. Be prepared for them and if, possible, tell them to come out of it, and the cultural taboos are not more important than the woman they love.
Still, a long way to go
Today, some men are sympathetic about the difficulties women face during periods. But, still, it is difficult to challenge the taboos associated with menstruation.
What men need to know is that menstruation is more than just bleeding. It is about the cramps, pain, body changes, stress, discomfort, and more.
Men should be taught about the menstrual process. They need to understand the struggles of a woman during her menstrual cycle or periods and support her.
A few men are now bringing a change and informing themselves about menstruation and breaking these taboos. They are not ashamed of talking or discussing menstruation with others.
Women must involve men in talks about periods. They should teach their sons, husbands, or boyfriends that menstruation is not a private thing for women.
People from all sections of society need to come together to fight the taboos, break the many stigmas and stereotypes and challenge age-old traditions and cultures. Let us make it our responsibility to spread awareness among each other and support girls and women during that time of the month.