She sat still, gazing at the fresh green grass with a frown-covering smile from the window near her school ground. She could see a handful of girls kicking the football around with smiles of joy and amusement. A few girls cheered in glee as another kicked the ball through the goal post. She just sat still. She was invited too, you know, but didn’t join them…it was ‘that time of the month’.
From using the first ever made pad in 1919 by Woolworths, Chicago to the 21st century of menstrual cups and tampons, women have come a long way through PMS, cravings, chocolates, painkillers, overnight pad belt, homemade pads of cloth…covering this all up so that no one can see this – the beauty she projects, the beauty her blood projects, all under the period shame.
The girl who burned like fire, spreading it and burning up all those who try to stop her, burning up all the clowns and liars and lightening up the world. 13 years old now, a quiet girl who obeys everyone and everything, driven under the darkness by her mother of orthodox thinking who said to her: “Shh! Don’t speak of your period out loud.” But the father of the other 13 year old said, “Here take some extra pads, in case the flow is too much”.
The girl stood there crying, clutching a large jacket to her chest. The woman in front of her said: “You shouldn’t dress like this. This dress is too inviting.” Was it too much for her to dress in a red blouse and a jeans set?, the girl questioned herself.
Dr. Rani Bang, in Putting Women First: Women And Health In Rural Community, notes that women in rural communities have very little knowledge about menstrual health. She says, “Cultural perceptions such as colour of the menstrual blood govern their perception of what is normal and abnormal. They resist using sanitary napkins because it is difficult to dispose of them. They fear it might fall into the hands of someone who can use Jadu tona (black magic) against them.”
These cultural norms and sayings have affected the minds and thinking of people greatly. The effects on the biological side of the human mind has led people to have psychological and neurological damages. The brain is attacked immensely by various hormones, giving rise to various anxiety disorders – people thinking they are not worthy or impure, low self confidence level, panic attacks. This is one of the most grave side effects of all. Menstruation is a biological period of cleansing of the body. Despite this society often creates rules and regulations opposing it, one such being the Kerala High Court restriction of 1991 which denied women above the age of 10 and below the age of 50 (ages of menstruation) entry into the Sabarimala Temple. This restriction was lifted on September 28, 2018 by the Supreme Court of India, saying that the discrimination against women on any grounds, even religious, is unconstitutional.
The population of adolescent girls reaches approximately 80 million – many fear society, many fear the blood, many want to speak up but are suppressed under the shame of periods and dress. Today we may have risen to the greatness of human glory but women are still suppressed under the dark realms of shame and embarrassment just because we chose to reveal our “erotic” world.
The current attitudes as viewed by us towards menstruation, childbirth, pregnancy and fertility reflect a porn education gaze that suppresses disgust by indulging in the illusion of a purely erotic world. Female fertility is shocking precisely because it turns women from sexual to maternal and from erotic to maturing. The child is the ultimate rupture to the porn world. Menstruation and female fertility is socially suppressed and largely silenced. The pornographic education that turned these parts of sex into unnatural interruptions of sexuality, ruined the vision of genital organs as solely erotic arousing organs.
You might say that this world is a man’s world, but it’s factual too that each and every birth is vaginal.
Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.
Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.
We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.
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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.