“Every woman in the history of humanity has or had a period.” exclaims Newsweek in this week’s cover story; “When girls first start their periods, they embark on a decades-long journey of silence and dread.” So far, so true. “Periods hurt. They cause backaches and cramps, not to mention a cloud of emotional ickiness” An inevitable truth or a social construct? It’s worth examining this truism when, for the first time in history, menstruation is displayed on Newsweek’s front cover.
Nature didn’t design women to suffer monthly. When it comes to perpetuating the species, nature made sure pleasure was involved.
Both sex and menstruation are part of nature’s plan,
and none were created painful or “icky” by design.
Contemporary cultures stopped looking at the whole cycle in favor of focusing on sex. Solely.
This single mindedness led to flourishing sex industries, while menstruation was demonized and sentenced to a lifelong shaming and taboo.
Newsweek acknowledges: “Menstruation wasn’t always so taboo. In ancient and matrilineal cultures, it was a mark of honor and power, a sacred time for women to rest and revive their bodies.” Indeed! So why not address women’s continued need to “revive their bodies”? Why keep the taboo unquestioned, and focus on tampon tax as the main issue?
The story is much bigger than Newsweek is willing to cover: Indigenous cultures around the world viewed menstruation as a powerful event that heightens women’s intuition monthly. Women were encouraged to rest, renew, and bring oracular messages to their people when they menstruated.
Far from being unfit for office because of “raging hormones”, women’s office included menstruation.
Women’s heightened consciousness and ability to bring direction to their peoples during menstruation were encouraged. Cultures provided dedicated quiet places where women would go during menstruation, and freed them from daily chores in order to rest monthly.
Hormones started raging only when these times and spaces were taken away…
In a courageous attempt to chart the problem, Newsweek does venture into scarier quarters: “Tampons may contain ‘residue from chemical herbicides’… in today’s world, if there’s nobody dying it’s not on anyone’s agenda.” Unfortunately, women are still dying. A heartbreaking example is Amy Elifritz, who died of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) in 2010, at age 21. Her tragic story not only needs to be told in conjunction with the risks of tampons use, but sustainable alternatives (such as the cup, sea sponges, and cloths pads) need to be extensively covered.
The environmental aspect can’t be glossed over either, when evidence to the feminine hygiene industry’s impact on it is so available. “In the United States alone, an estimated 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are disposed of annually.” The average American woman is “expected to produce a grand total of 62,415 pounds of garbage” And we still talk about tampon taxes as the main issue?
Is Newsweek avoiding rocking this boat: “U.S. consumers spent $3.1 billion on tampons, pads and sanitary panty liners last year.” Might the environmental impact and TSS threat raise too many waves for the industry? The campaign to cancel tampon tax seems like a safer bet. Especially when the president of the United States sees merit in it!
“In January, President Barack Obama may have become the first president to discuss menstruation” continues Newsweek, “Ingrid Nilsen asked him why tampons and pads are taxed as luxury items in 40 states. Obama was stunned. “I have to tell you, I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items… I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.” Right on, President Obama! Your answer is honest, yet the picture presented to you was narrow in scope. It hasn’t even begun to address menstruation as the essential human matter that it is.
When Newsweek met Menstruation
it kept meandering in the suburbia
instead of marching Downtown menstrual issues!
Downtown Menstruation has many more treasures to offer, carefully overlooked by Newsweek: contemporary scientists discovered that menstrual blood is the richest source of Stem Cells, a fact seldom reported outside of scientific journals, though its implications for healing are enormous: “Compared with the stem cells from other sources, such as bone marrow and cord blood, [menstrual stem cells] are easier to collect, do not cause any harm or pain to the donor and can be collected for more than 35 years, from 12 years old to 47… menstrual stem cells could turn into different tissue types – including bone, blood vessel, fat, brain, lung, liver, pancreas and heart” And we are still focused on tampon taxes?!?
Far from cutting to the chase of menstrual matters, Newsweek loops around the elephants in the living room in order to keep the status quo. Alas, the elephants are many: From shaming women for having periods, to the risk of dying of TSS when using tampons; From overlooking the disastrous environmental impact of menstrual “hygiene” products, to ignoring the golden medicinal potential in using stem cells from menstrual blood; From denying women acceptable rest during a time designed by nature for renewal, to medicating them for the PMS symptoms caused by such denial.
How did a natural gift become “raging hormones?” Here we come full circle: contemporary cultures dropped the concept of a cycle in favor of highlighting sex. Women’s hormones started raging in physical protest against being denied time to regenerate.
The most debilitating menstrual symptoms subside and disappear when women begin to live in harmony with their cycle, stop loathing their menstrual blood, stop clogging themselves with tampons that often irritate their vagina, and take time to rest and renew monthly.
How would the world be different when half of its population returns to balance? When women stop suffering from PMS, when girls are educated about being born Cyclical, when women reclaim the gift of intuition granted by menstruation, and when cultures listen and benefit from such intuitive guidance…?
Surely, the impact of removing tampon tax will pale in comparison…