I will start from the first day that I bled. I was 11 years old and, I was in elementary school. We were playing in the school yard when suddenly, people told me that there is a bloody mess on my pants. I knew immediately then that I finally had my period because I've learned that in class. In fact, I was already anticipating the technical details of the ordeal and thought that it would just be another physiological change that everyone undergoes- as lectured in class. Unfortunately, it would not be the case for me. There are so many traditional beliefs, myths and misconceptions of having a menstruation that I would leave them to you guys to process:
I need to sit at the third step of the stairs so, I will only bleed for three days. I need not eat any fruit or food that is sour because, I might suffer from complications. I need to rub my used underwear on my face so I will not suffer from break outs and, the worst part, according to my grandmother, I need not take a bath until I am all through because I might suffer some complications!
If you guys are eating, drinking or whatever you're doing, just try not to choke or cause any harm on yourself while reading, okay?
Back to my story:
My mom and, every women I knew who was older than I am and obviously had their periods kept lecturing me on things that anytime, I can get pregnant now. That it was embarrassing to have it and seriously, I wondered why. Is it because it came from a particular part of my body or the thought that it was blood and therefore unclean?
Then, there would be the times when I get some stain on my clothes and become a recipient of these looks
Or, I will be caught disposing of my sanitary pads (in an acceptable manner) or washing my used underwear or any blood stained garments and people would be looking at me like this
Honestly, I do not want to complain about it but it made me feel that every month, there is something wrong that goes on in me that is embarrassing and, it reflected so much on my self perception growing up.
I am aware of all the other Asian cultures who have their own set of beliefs that having their period every month made them unclean but, is it really an acceptable thing to do? For me, that felt like an indirect way in which women were undermined by men.
Eventually though, I was able to outgrow that type of perception but the same thing happens still here. People are still embarrassed to ask help except for females who they think of as their "accomplishes." when it comes to period related problems like intense pain during that time of the month. Or, their general attitude that everything should only be talked inside a gynecologist's clinic with preferably a female practitioner attending them.
The culture of shame and silence over this whole thing is really stifling and, I am just glad that I was able to break through all those constraints. I still find it strange whenever people try to shush me up for being so vocal over this thing. But, I cannot really be deterred. For me, its just like any other physiological function that my body performs. There is no ritual or belief that embodies it. There certainly is nothing embarrassing or humiliating about it. I would like to advocate a more open perception on it. Perhaps it would not save a life for most of us but, why undermine the possibility that perhaps, an acceptable attitude would help facilitate a better self perception on a few young women out there?