menstruation

Red Light Special

“Dude, I’m so horny but I’m on my period.”

“So?”

“What do you mean so?”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Eeew. You mean..? No. Eeew.”

 

What? No really, what is it?

See I could understand being iffy about having sex with another person while on your cycle. It’s not everyone who’s willing to run the red light, so to speak, but what of masturbation? Is it also taboo during that time of the month?

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We’re led to believe menstruation is filthy, and well, it isn’t the most glamorous time really.  I can often be found moaning about how it looks like a Spartan battle field down there when it’s particularly bad. However, I no longer feel the shame and emotional discomfort associated with my menstrual cycle.

The Bible tells us a woman on her cycle is “unclean” and to be avoided.

Our mothers treat it as a secret. A cross we must silently carry in our wombs.

Our partners more often than not are grossed out by it. It’s  foreign territory to them that they don’t need to explore, nor acknowledge.

And we take all of this in and internalize it.

We keep the shame, the silence and start to feel that way our own selves.

Is the fact that it’s blood what truly offends people?

Something so normal for any woman, something we will have to  experience for approximately 40 years after reaching puberty, is still considered “disgusting” yet we don’t feel the same of urinating.

Why does your menstrual cycle have to bring about despair and torture?

I mean, you feel bloated, hot flashes, you’re hungry and irritable and you deny yourself the simplest little pleasure you can give yourself too? An orgasm?

The fact is, it is your vagina, your blood, your pleasure.

To love yourself, your vagina and your pleasure, means to be with it through all it’s transformations.

What is the real shame behind pleasuring yourself  whenever you want to?

Is it the blood? Because there are tampons for that.  A shower, tampon applicator and clit rub away lies momentary relief from the vile feeling of discomfort.

Orgasms actually relieve menstrual cramps, and I personally look at them as.. making love to yourself.

So why not make love to yourself when you need it the most?

When you’re feeling disgusting and undesirable?

Wouldn’t that be the best time for said.. comforting?

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Grown women are taught to repress their postpubescent body or hide it. When you start puberty and you start growing hair you’re taught to shave it, because no one’s supposed to see it. With your period, it’s something that you conceal—no one’s supposed to know. It’s almost pedophilic—and I don’t want to throw that word around. But this feminine ideology we have, of the woman being a prepubescent girl, is how we’re taught to change our bodies. – Petra Collins*

*Petra recently designed the above line drawing for American Apparel. An image that caused quite an uproar and has been described as “vile”, “disgusting” and “obscene”.

In an interview with Vice she said “That we’re so shocked and appalled at something that’s such a natural state—and it’s funny that out of all the images everywhere, all of the sexually violent images, or disgustingly derogatory images, this is something that’s so, so shocking apparently. ” It makes one realize, as a society, we’re almost always focused on the wrong thing, huh?

 

Mama said

  1. Never show a man you love him too much. They will see this and take advantage of it knowing you won’t leave.
  2. Never love a man too much i.e more than yourself. He can never give you more than you can give yourself for as long as you can.
  3. When you cook maize meal, add a bit of salt and oil.
  4. Your marriage won’t be worth much if your partner isn’t worth much. If you insist on settling down, let your partner build you.
  5. Take care of your body. Especially your figure and your skin. Your whole appearance as a Woman shows how you feel about yourself and has the power to give you the confidence you need.
  6. Buy attractive lingerie for yourself, not to show it off to someone else.
  7. Family is everything. Friends come and go but if you find those worth keeping, do so. 
  8. Never let another person steal your joy. 
  9. Buy pretty bedding.
  10. Sometimes you need to pray. [Or as I call it, Talk to the Air.]

 

Sound advice, she’s tried.

 

But as I found myself thinking about my future children, especially my daughters, I grew distressed trying to figure out what to teach them and how.

See, I believe my mother didn’t teach me what I feel my daughter should know. And I understand why. For her, some of the greatest lessons have come about through trial and error and being reactive to certain situations which, probably could have been avoided had one of us been proactive, but I understand because she isn’t as vocal as I am and hope to be by the time I have kids. 

She didn’t tell me that boys would lie until I’d already been lied to and led down undesirable paths in the name of Love.

She didn’t prepare me for the emotional Beast I’d become once a month when my hormones kick in.  The Education system failed me here too. Y’all just made it seem like a bit of bleeding, not cramps that feel like a kick to the vagina resulting in what looks like a Spartan battlefield on a good/bad day. The anger, emotional texts to Ex’s [although that could just be me] none of that.

She didn’t tell me that as a female, you’re a walking target. I guess I understand why. My mother doesn’t really see things the way that I do. She still victim blames, I admit, but a lot of her generation does. Also, I doubt she would have wanted me to grow up looking over my shoulder expecting to have something happen but, I feel it’s something every girl should know. Rather rob them of their childhood with honesty than have them end up in a situation far worse because they were naive.

Pregnancy scares. We don’t discuss those obviously. I doubt we ever will, but I want to with my daughter. I guess we’ll squeeze it into the Sex Talk.  One of the few times we discussed pregnancy I brought up abortion and my mother was mortified. “We don’t kill what God creates” she said. I laughed and said those are her views and we’d need to be logical and consider whether bringing a child into the world would be the best thing. She said I was speaking like the Devil, which amused me. I know though that I don’t want my daughter feeling obligated to keep a child because of emotional blackmail. I want her, should she find herself in that position, to make an informed decision.

She never told me to know when to leave a man, I found that out the hard way.  

I learned that one should avoid patriarchal men like the plague out in the world too. My daughter will know the same. Although I guess the “Have a partner who builds you” part covered that.

Cook because you want to, not because you have to, for someone else. I hate that. Having to interrupt your time of doing Peaceful Nothing to fix a meal for someone who’ll probably decide it’s not worth it and sleep by the time you’re done. 

I believe Sundays are peaceful. For solitude and everything else you want. Sundays are Selfish days, to be worshiped. I’ll tell my daughter. 

Mama always wanted a happy family that bonds over dinner and cooks together and laughs all the time and such. We are the exact opposite. She knows her children love her but I always tell her, personally, I don’t feel the need to always be in my family’s presence. I spend a fair amount of time alone and there isn’t anything wrong. She says it’ll lead to me being in an unhappy household, I tell her I don’t want to raise kids  who are dependent on another person for comfort, it’s simply how I am. 

I drink quite a bit. I drink when I’m sad, when I’m happy and when I’m excited. No, it isn’t as often as you may think, but beer, wine, straights, they all get a pass with me. And no I don’t get sloppy drunk unless I’m home and with close friends, and even then, I never want to because I always want to know everyone is alright. My mother drinks a few glasses of wine every two months and thinks I’m an alcoholic. Dear Future Daughter, drink if you want to, just don’t be a fuck up.

Religion. If you haven’t figured it out by now, she’s religious. Christian. I was once, and then I read too many books and thought too much to continue believing in a White man in the Sky and virgins giving birth to Saviors. I hope my daughter isn’t religious, I won’t lie. Spiritual, yes please. But that’s her choice to make. 

Sexuality. I’m guessing you can figure out mother’s views on that. Marriage, monogamy, kids, the basics. I still have to explain to her how gay people have sex sometimes when she’s drunk and curious but thank god she’s not a homophobe. I want my daughter to do with her body as she pleases, to own herself.

I will stress the importance of an education. Not just degrees, they’re nice, but to be smart and know the world, understand people, understand yourself. Nothing’s more depressing than a person with a degree and an empty head, there’re too many running around.

I want her to know she’s always stronger than she knows and sometimes, than she wants to be, and her mother was too. 

I want her to know that Love is everything. And true Love, for anything or anyone, should never leave you feeling Less Than in anyway. 

And that mistakes happen and there is no shame in Living. 

I hope I raise a little Warrior. A beauty. An Amazonian Princess honestly. A woman who could have held her own had she been born in Sparta. Someone like Cleopatra. One who walks with pride and is firm in her knowledge of Self and depends on no none, needs no one, who isn’t worth it. I hope I raise a Queen who unfortunately, will know loneliness because those of her kind will be rare in society, but I know she will seek out and find comfort in like minded people.

I know a fair amount of the lessons will come about as me being reactive too. I realize that with parenting. I appreciate what my mother has taught me and what she kept from me, she was doing the best she could and I will do the same. Maybe one day my daughter too will point out what I could’ve taught her but didn’t. And that’s alright.

The whole point of relationships is to learn. My mother has taught me and I have taught her. Lessons I hope we both spread out into the world. 

Lessons of Love. 

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