Of course I’m breaking a bit of a taboo by even mentioning this, but yes. I’m bleeding. Last time I put up a blog post someone who claimed to be Pagan piled in to say that bleeding is private and to suggest I shouldn’t be talking about it. I’ve been told off for being honest with my son from an early age about menstruation. (The net result is a well adjusted young man with a non-squeamish and compassionate attitude to the process, so sue me!) I’ve seen graffiti scrawled onto Mooncup adverts about how gross a moon cup must be. There, on our screens ‘sanitary products’ demonstrate their ability to soak up a blue chemical. No, we must not talk about blood. Unless it’s spurting in some violent arc in a movie scene.
I shall persist in being a bleeding nuisance on this topic, and I have no qualms about offending people. Not only is bleeding natural for a lot of us, it’s essential to the on-going existence of humanity. No blood, no babies. Rejecting the blood is one of the many ways in which our culture tries to deny what is animal about us. The human animal bleeds, shits, farts and pisses. Every time we try to pretend that isn’t so, we deny that we are a part of nature. We are messy, visceral beings. Our natural bodies produce smells which we teach each other to hide with chemicals. As though smelling of fakeness, of laboratory product is more attractive than smelling of skin and sweat.
Menstruation effects women in all kinds of ways, but we are wary of talking about it. PMT, the sometimes (but not always) debilitating effects of cramps have been used against us for far too long. We are told these things make us unstable, unreliable, unsuitable for that working world of men and power and importance. We lie. We hide it. We deny one of the most basic aspects of our femininity in our (theoretically) breeding years so that no one will treat us as inferior. Frankly, that sucks. I bleed. Frequently I hurt, often it makes me cry. It does another thing, too. It makes me honest. Most of the month I might be able to tolerate the bullshit, the stupid, the useless and put a brave face on. Bleeding makes me intolerant of all that stuff. It’s not a crazy time, and in my past it was often the one fleeting bit of sanity when I could be honest with myself about what was wrong. Somehow, the hormones give me permission to cry and generally I find that hard.
How much easier would life be if the blood wasn’t embarrassing or shameful? How much difference would it make if acknowledging the cycle did not run the risk of inviting neo-Victorian attitudes? What would it be like to live in a culture where being female was not something you had to hide and apologise for on a monthly basis? But no, we have to put on a brave face and keep going as normal. I honestly think that if men had something comparable going on as well, the collective attitude would be totally different. Instead, bleeding is ‘unclean’, it needs sanitising with sanitary products. We aren’t supposed to talk about it, because it’s ‘gross’ we’re just supposed to pretend it isn’t happening and carry on as normal.
I’ve encountered men, (plural) for whom vaginal sex during menstruation is distasteful, and others who find partners aren’t interested when bleeding, but who expect to get laid anyway, and think rear entry should be on offer to tide them over. That this whole attitude casts the female body as so much orifice for gratification, doesn’t seem to matter to them. And here’s a thing, think about it. Blood is distasteful, but bottoms…. Hmm. What interesting double standards we have as a species! I’m very glad to say I don’t have that kind of stupid in my life any more, beyond the occasional, infuriating anecdote.
Bleeding. Proud to bleed. Grateful to be able to bleed, to be fertile, and female and alive. Unashamedly a bleeding nuisance.