No Shame. Period.
It’s not easy being a teenage feminist. You know, like a suffragette but with a smartphone. You have menstrual cups, pores, boyfriends and sneaky unfeminist thoughts to deal with. In this guest blog, the former stand-up comedian and author Kate Weston talks about period shame, her debut YA novel and why she is not hiding her Mooncup under her bushel no more.
Diary of a Confused Feminist
By Kate Weston
In my book, Diary of a Confused Feminist, fifteen-year-old Kat decides to take control of her periods and wage war on the patriarchy by purchasing a menstrual cup. At first, her passage to Mooncup merriment is a tricky one. Her struggle sadly resulting in her menstrual cup languishing in her handbag before falling out and landing at the feet of the hottest of hot, Hot Josh. With her Menstrual Cup at the feet of her crush, in front of the whole school, Kat has to overcome period shaming and embarrassment. However, after considering moving countries, Kat comes to the sensible conclusion that she will no longer feel ashamed of her period or her menstrual cup.
Even with the whole school talking about her menstrual mortification, Kat holds her head high. She’s no longer here for period shaming and neither am I.
Ending period stigma
We’ve all felt the shame, sneaking out of a room trying to shove a tampon up our sleeve or hiding a box of sanitary products under other stealthily placed items in our shopping trolley. Many of us freak out when our bag falls open and I once had to leave a bus after accidently flinging a tampon at the poor unsuspecting driver while trying to extract my oyster card from my Mary Poppins-esque handbag. (I also flung a lip gloss at him but he seemed less shocked by that.)
But WHY are we still so ashamed? Menstruation is a fact of life, it’s why we’re all here. Wateraid estimates that at any given time, 800 Million people around the world are menstruating, and in a Marie Claire article from 2017 it was revealed that menstruators spend around ten years of their life on their period. With so many of us doing it, so often, why is it still such a taboo? Maybe it’s time to break the stigma and start being a bit louder about our periods.
I MENSTRUATE! AND I AM PROUD!
Here are a few reasons why menstruation’s great:
- It means you can have babies.
- It means you’re not having a baby just yet.
- It means your body is super clever and doing all kinds of badass shizzle while you go about your life, watch that Netflix show, go mountain climbing, base jump, ride a unicycle or read all those great books. (Please note, I am not advocating going base jumping or riding a unicycle. Thank you)
With the invention of great reusable products such as Mooncups, it feels like menstruators are taking charge and SMASHING THE PATRIARCHY. And, no longer will I hide my Mooncup under my bushel (metaphorically, obviously it’s in my bushel sometimes). Like Kat, I’ll no longer stay silent.
If you’re menstruating and you want to stay home and cry at movies, you should be able to talk about it. If it feels like a small army have taken to your uterus to bash about in there, you should be able to talk about it. If your periods make you really unwell to the point where you have to spend days at a time in bed, you should be able to talk about it.
It’s estimated that 1 in 10 women suffer from endometriosis, a hugely painful and debilitating condition and the more we talk about period related illnesses the more we can help each other through them and campaign for more funding to help research.
Let’s make period chat standard.
Kate Weston’s debut novel ‘‘Diary of a Confused Feminist’ is out now.
Did you know that the Mooncup menstrual cup is available free of cost in all state schools in England?