Acknowledging My Own Period Privilege
If I looked back on my writing over the years, I suppose you would say they all had a similar motif, periods and how much they suck. I’m one of the 10% of bleeders who experiences extreme period pain on the regular and instead of turning this pain into anger and punching a wall, I write (hopefully) funny essays that other painful bleeders can relate to.
Though I’ve always had painful periods, I never once considered how privileged I was to be having one. Until recently…
So maybe having a period doesn’t feel like a privilege most days. Nor does having the unbearable pain. So then what exactly do I mean by period privilege then?
Period privilege is being able to run to my nearest convenience store, drug store, or supermarket to buy tampons when I need to. To order a pair of THINX reusable menstruation panties when I want to reduce the amount of period waste I create every month. To walk into the women’s bathroom at a cafe and grab a tampon from the pile they so generously leave for free. To tell my boyfriend that I’m in serious pain and then watch him run around the house trying to craft an alternative hot water bottle to place on my abdomen. To track my days and symptoms on a period tracker app. To open my laptop and google herbs or yoga poses that help eliminate period pain. To waddle to my bathroom in search of an ibuprofen among the heaps of lozenges and vitamins. To wipe my weeping vagina with toilet paper and then flush the mess down the drain. To wash my hands in the sink with soap afterwards. To stay in bed and watch Black Mirror when the pain is too unbearable (thank god I’m a freelancer).
Having a period is almost never fun (unless you were worried that you might be pregnant… then it’s a big fucking hullaballoo). It often comes at the most inopportune of time and ruins sandy vacations, sexy moments, and silky bedsheets. But as bad as my cramps are, I have to acknowledge that my period problems seem trivial compared to the problems other bleeders face in developing nations.
Which is why I felt compelled to get involved with the Days for Girls Berlin team in training project headed by the lovely Fede.
What is Days for Girls? A US based nonprofit organization with chapters worldwide that sews and distributes reusable menstrual pads to girls and women in developing countries. But they don’t just drop off the pads and peace out. There is also an educational component to the process. Volunteers also educate the girls and women about their bodies with the hopes of reducing the shame and stigma they associate with menstruation.
You don’t have to look far to know that menstruation is still a very taboo topic, even amongst developed nations. In Nepal, bleeding women are still forced to menstruate in outdoor sheds, leaving them exposed to the elements, dangerous snakes, or suffocation. Even though the government has recently made this practice illegal, it hasn’t done much to reduce the shame surrounding the topic.
And while Scotland recently pledged free menstrual products in schools (YAY Scots!) nearby England has yet to get with the program despite the fact that in the year 2017 nearly 137700 UK girls missed school due to period poverty.
Don’t even get me started on the tampon tax…
And so once a week, I meet up with 10-15 women (and one man) to cut fabric, pretend to know how to sew, listen to music, eat cookies, and chat about our lives. One mom brings her daughter. One woman stopped by after sitting next to Fede on an airplane. Another is just passing some time before she moves back home. Whatever our story, whatever our reason for being there, we all have one thing in common: we acknowledge our own period privilege. Whenever one of us finishes a liner or a shield we all stop what we are doing and let out a “WOOO!” We aren’t just excited to be one step closer to hitting our goal of 100 completed kits by the end of July, we are excited to be destigmatizing menstruation. Every human on this planet is here because of it, so why not celebrate it?
By the end of July we hope to have 100 completed kits for an orphanage in Nepal. In August, Fede will deliver the kits and spread the love. Want to help us break the stigma surrounding menstruation? Make sure to come to our womb love yoga fundraising event in July. Details here. If you can’t make it, or aren’t into yoga, you can get in touch with me here to get involved in other ways.