I have recently stumbled across Litchat on Twitter which is a discussion forum every week that allows writers (and me!) to talk about the process of writing, publishing, editing etc. A ffew weeks ago, the topic had been part of a week of Taboo topics that authors and readers may not be comfortable with dealing with.
One particular Litchat guest was Elissa Stein who has written a book entitled Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, which is a book about menstruation, Macmillan quote “Flow answers such questions as: What’s the point of getting a period? What did women do before pads and tampons? What about new drugs that promise to end periods—a hot idea or not? Sex during your period: gross or a turn-on? And what’s normal, anyway? With color reproductions of (campy) historical ads and early (excruciating) femcare devices, it also provides a fascinating (and mind-boggling) gallery of this complex, personal and uniquely female process”.
Stein spoke about the book passionately, as did others who were making comments on what is deemed taboo and why. Stein commented that she had done a recording with Dr Oz to promote her book that has still yet to be aired! It seems people still do not want to talk or hear about this frankly natural process. TV executives are deciding what we will or will not be allowed to watch and discuss, surely this is a form of censorship?
This is sheer lunancy, which seemed to be the status quo from all the comments that were made, one lady tweeted “our bodies as objects, acceptable. Our bodies as functional, not acceptable“. The UK and other countries tax us on our sanitary products, tax is suuposedly meant for luxury products, how are tampons and the like a luxury? Amazingly, after the launch of the IPad, ITampon was the number one on the tweet trending topic after the IPad launch, much to the ambarrassment of Apple!
It is painful to think that mensruation is something that most women endure as part of their lives , however it is treated as something so shameful, many comments were that sexual repression was a huge part of the problem, we learn very early from our parents and then from society, we must as parents change this perception.
Stein gave us a brief history rundown on how Priests used to shut women away during a period as they were deemed unclean, whilst midwives were considered witches. Their knowledge of childbirth and their understanding of menstruation was deemed evil. Whilst men were so afraid of menstrual blood that they created all sorts of theories as to what was really happening to women.
Many of us will have heard many euphemisms, my Nan used to call it a “Red Letter Day”, whilst my mother recounts the story of her first period to me believing that she was dying as she had never been told by her strict Mother what menstruation was. Girls even today believe that they are dying because they have no education on menstruation.
It seems we can talk about anything but not the way a woman’s body works. One lady suggested that Northern America was very stuffy, I commented on the furore that was Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at a music awards ceremony, with the view in the UK being “All that fuss over a breast!”.
Whilst I have not read the book, I am off today to get my copy and I am going to leave it strategically placed around my house in order that the subject can be talked about freely by my friends and family and hopefully then onto others and have this ridiculous taboo subject tackled head on!!! Until we begin to tackle these issues and talk about them freely then we will forever have people with antiquated ideas controlling our free speech and our childrens ability to have a more free and liberal existence.