Why have menstrual periods remained taboo? Researcher and author aim to end the shaming of a natural process

Asia's Tech News Daily

period poverty, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

Most women spend their whole lives pretending they don’t have a period. Girls are taught the art of concealment early – how to avoid leaks, how to sneak a tampon into their pocket on the way to the bathroom, the utility of a strategically wrapped sweatshirt to avoid post-seep humiliation.

For centuries, periods have remained stubbornly taboo. Half the world’s population menstruates and yet no one really wants to talk about it. When they do, it’s often quietly or through euphemism. Generations of women have been conditioned to believe their periods are disgusting or shameful, which has consequences for women’s bodies, health care decisions, sex lives and overall well-being.

“Even those of us who have access to materials, even those of us who identify as feminists, even those of us who can talk period-positive, we are still soaked in shame,” said Christina Bobel, a gender professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and an expert in critical menstruation studies. “That’s the genius of menstrual stigma. It’s under our skin. It really doesn’t leave. No one is immune.”

Around the globe, menstruation is conceived of as a problem rather than as a healthy bodily process. Framing menstruation as a problem, experts say, demands a solution, and the solution people have been offered is better access to feminine-care products.

period poverty, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

Chris Bobel is an expert in critical menstruation studies and author of The Managed Body.

But some experts argue this doesn’t address the underlying causes of menstrual stigma, which have roots in misogyny and have been exploited by corporations.

“I’m cranky about these pads and other product-focused menstrual campaigns because I don’t think they fundamentally challenge menstrual stigma,” Bobel says. “Menstrual stigma is what sets in motion this necessity of menstrual concealment.”

There is an absolute necessity for every person who menstruates to have access to menstrual care.

Many can’t afford or lack access to menstrual products, and this can impact their health and mental well-being. A 2021 study found those who experienced “period poverty” were more likely to report moderate to severe depression than those who had access to materials.

But the way people talk about menstrual care, experts say, is often framed by stigma.

period poverty, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

The Managed Body by Chris Bobel.

“I’m not saying that people don’t have a right to experience their periods without leaking. However, I want to build a world in which a leak is not social suicide,” Bobel said. “So I leaked through my tampon? That’s uncomfortable, but I’m not going to be horrified. I’m not going to be humiliated. People aren’t going to point at me. People aren’t going to presume I’m a dirty girl, and that I’m not respectable.”

Trans and gender-nonconforming people who menstruate face additional stigma. Many find themselves othered everywhere from doctors’ offices to public restrooms. Research on menstruation and stigma focuses almost exclusively on women.

Elissa Stein, co-author of Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, said menstruation was always treated as something taboo, especially before it was fully understood.

period poverty, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

Elissa Stein, author of Flow.

“There are all these stories about menstruation that were negative because people were afraid of something that was unknown and unexplainable. The ancient world thought that women who were menstruating could destroy crops, could bring storms at sea. Could break mirrors. There was always this negative connotation, and shame, and fear.”

Stein said the feminine hygiene industry exploits centuries-old cultural attitudes about women’s periods to sell products.

“Their approach is, ‘we’ll help you keep your secret. We know how embarrassing it is. We know how shameful it is. We know how uncomfortable it is. And you don’t want anybody to know. You come with us, and we’ll make sure that people don’t find out,’” she said.

period poverty, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

Flow by Elissa Stein.

Bobel said it’s important to separate the reality of what people need to manage their periods from social forces that fuel shame and secrecy.

Misogyny, she said, devalues the female body and seeks to control it. Capitalism markets feminine products in ways that suggest menstruation should be entirely inconspicuous. Neocolonialism exports this Western “solution” to girls all around the world, Bobel said.

But experts say there are many ways to manage a period that don’t include single-use products.

“There’s sort of this presumption that everybody wants hyper concealment, and everybody wants something they can throw away, and everybody wants to be quiet about their periods. And everybody wants to be more like American teenagers,” Bobel said.

Combating period stigma is an enormous project.

“It’s like this giant wall has been erected, and we’re taking it down one brick at a time,” Stein said. “It’s your own awareness when you’re uncomfortable. It’s having conversations with others, and raising kids who feel more comfortable about their bodies.”

Bobel said there needs to be innovation around much more than access to products. She calls for more “menstrual literacy”, so people can learn how their bodies work and make informed decisions about how to care for them free of shame.

“From the trivial to the serious, it really sets in motion a different kind of relationship with the body. Because right now, particularly for women and girls, we see our bodies as problems to be solved,” she says.

“But the body is a site of pleasure, of power, of potential. Menstrual stigma suppresses curiosity and it keeps us locked in our own sort of private misery. Menstrual literacy sets in motion an entirely different engagement with the body.”

Like what you read? Follow SCMP Lifestyle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter here.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

How a Paris designer built a family home in an old mirror factory

By combining warm colours and reclaimed materials, a Parisian workshop is now a contemporary home The interior designer Dorothée Delaye spent two years searching for what she calls “a village ... Read more »

Cain's Jawbone: how crime novel's puzzling plot still keeps us guessing

In 87 years, only four readers have solved the fiendish murder mystery devised by former Observer crossword setter Edward Powys Mathers In 1934 Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express ... Read more »

Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris in lead for 2024 if Biden decides not to run, poll says

© Getty michelle kamala.jpg Former first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris have emerged as favourites for the Democratic nomination in 2024, if President Joe Biden opts not ... Read more »

Voices: Voters will tell us what they think of Boris Johnson's Peppa Pig in next week's by-election

© PA It was ‘very much my kind of place’, said the prime minister of Peppa Pig World – PA This was Peppa Pig week, the week a cartoon character ... Read more »

Who else is still recovering from Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is over, but I’m still recovering. Anyone else? Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with loved ones, but from cooking to cleaning – I’m ready to ... Read more »

Nordstrom just dropped so many new Cyber Monday deals: Save up to 50% on Spanx, Ugg, Kate Spade and more

Looking for more Black Friday deals, gift guides and holiday tips? Sign up for Yahoo Lifestyle Canada’s newsletter! These Nordstrom Cyber Monday deals are up to 50% off. Yahoo Lifestyle ... Read more »

China Doubles Plug-In Car Sales In October 2021

© insideEvs.com Copyright BYD Qin Plus PHEV The trajectory is for 3+ million plug-in electric car sales in 2021. Plug-in electric car sales in China in October increased by some ... Read more »

Hotelier accuses scientists of ‘fearmongering' over new Covid-19 variant

© Provided by Times Live A leading hotelier has hit out at scientists for announcing the new Covid-19 variant without first establishing if vaccines are effective against it. Marc Wachsberger, ... Read more »

Teaching union calls for enhanced Covid measures

© BBC Unions want some restrictions reintroduced in schools to tackle the spread of Covid A teachers’ union has called on the government to “urgently” reintroduce Covid measures in Jersey ... Read more »

Reese Witherspoon Posed for a Rare Family Photo with Her Three Kids

We've said it once a hundred times, and we'll say it again: Reese Witherspoon's kids are her clones. Need further proof? Look no further than the actress's latest family photo ... Read more »

Copa Libertadores final live stream information and how to watch Palmeiras vs Flamengo online and on TV tonight

© AFP via Getty Images Palmeiras take on Flamengo in the final of this year’s Copa Libertadores – AFP via Getty Images Palmeiras will look to retain the Copa Libertadores ... Read more »

22,089 infections, 561 (+28) IC, 2,069 (-1) clinic, 23 (+7) movements

7-day daily average A total of 155,803 infections have been reported over the past 7 days. That is an average of 22,258 per day. Today’s number of 22,089 is below ... Read more »

Boris Johnson to hold a 5pm press conference TONIGHT

© PA Wire Migrants Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding a press conference at Downing Street at 5pm on Saturday, following the discovery of two cases of the Covid-19 Omicron ... Read more »

The Best Candle for Cozy Winter Days and Nights at Home

Photo credit: Courtesy of Diptyque Here at T&C, we pride ourselves on our discerning eye for quality. With Tried & True, our editors will give you an inside look at ... Read more »

All the best Cyber Monday deals at Amazon that you can shop now

Looking for more holiday deals? Visit our Guide to Cyber Week to see all the best sales to shop during Cyber Monday Amazon currently has incredible savings on products across all categories. ... Read more »

On my radar: Bridget Christie's cultural highlights

Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian Born in Gloucester in 1971, comedian Bridget Christie’s debut BBC Radio 4 series, Bridget Christie Minds the Gap, was first broadcast in 2013. That same year ... Read more »

One of Oprah's Favorite Coats of 2021 Is Miraculously Under $100 at Amazon Right Now

jacket Courtesy The release of Oprah's Favorite Things is one of the best shopping events to happen all year. It's like a bible we can study for what gifts to ... Read more »

This Lash-Lengthening Castor Oil With 39,000 Five-Star Amazon Ratings Is Just $9 Now

Castor Oil (2oz), USDA Certified Organic Courtesy of Getty Images Amazon is truly a treasure trove of affordable beauty staples, especially during Black Friday. Sure, some use this time of ... Read more »

Moneycontrol PRO presents Intrazon 2.0 on Sunday, 28th November, at 8 pm, with Dinesh Nagpal on ‘Harmonics & Ichimoku Trading (HIT) for intra day'

Dinesh Nagpal | PC-MoneyControl INTRAZON 2.0 is one of the largest retail Intraday Traders Online Conferences to be organised in India. Some of the best intraday traders in India will ... Read more »

'Gaydar' or 'wishdar'? The danger in obsessing over Shawn Mendes' sexuality

Mendes’ breakup with Camila Cabello has the rumor mill turning about his sexuality once again. But could this public speculation have an unexpected cost? Read more »

UK health secretary says that 2 cases of new coronavirus variant omicron identified in Britain, says they are linked

LONDON — UK health secretary says that 2 cases of new coronavirus variant omicron identified in Britain, says they are linked. Read more »

Health Habits That Are Aging Your Body

Many of us spend a lot of money every year on trying to prevent aging. But some of the most effective, science-backed ways to stay young cost little or nothing—and ... Read more »

Candace Cameron Bure defends representation in Hallmark movies and says the network has 'definitely' improved after being criticized for a lack of diversity

Candace Cameron Bure in “The Christmas Contest.”Crown Media Candace Cameron Bure told Insider Hallmark Channel has improved diversity its in holiday films. The “Fuller House” star said “it's important to ... Read more »

5 Signs You Have Visceral Fat Besides a Big Belly

Belly fat (a.k.a. visceral fat) is one of the most underrated health threats there is. Unlike subcutaneous fat—the jiggly fat under the skin that you can grab or pinch—visceral fat ... Read more »

Bundesliga Match Thread: Borussia Dortmund vs Wolfsburg

© Photo by Focke Strangmann – Pool/Getty Images How to watch: TV: None (US), everywhere else here Streaming: ESPN+, BT Sport +, Sling When: 9:30 AM EST Match Thread Rules: ... Read more »

Hand sanitizer recalled because packaging looks like water bottles, company says

American Screening LLC of Shreveport is voluntarily recalling 153,336 units of hand sanitizer containing 70% ethyl alcohol gel. The sanitizer is packaged in 8-ounce containers that resemble water bottles. The ... Read more »

‘I'm a great audience – I cry very easily': Stephen Sondheim in his own words

Photograph: Douglas Elbinger/Getty Images In these extracts from interviews published in the Guardian and the Observer, the musicals maestro – who has died aged 91 – talks about rhyme, reviews ... Read more »

Man City tipped to pursue Karim Benzema in the summer

Manchester City are believed to be eyeing a summer approach for veteran Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema as part of their hunt for a ‘number nine’. © Provided by 90min ... Read more »

Empoli vs Fiorentina: Lineups and how to watch

© Photo by Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images Late news Empoli manager Aurelio Andreazzoli picks Szymon Żurkowski and Patrick Cutrone—both Viola exes—along with purported Viola transfer target Samuele Ricci. Lorenzo ... Read more »

How a writer found himself in a missing person story

While working on a book about missing persons, Francisco Garcia received a message that turned his life upside down. Here he reflects on love, loss and the enduring promise of ... Read more »

George Orwell: how romantic walks with girlfriends inspired Nineteen Eighty-Four

Photograph: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images The feeling of longing for a lost love can be powerful, and George Orwell makes full use of it in his work. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, his ... Read more »

It's Brexmas! From turkeys to alcohol, how will shortages affect Christmas?

Photograph: knape/Getty Images With less than a month to go until Christmas, many retailers are not only having to deal with the impact of the pandemic and a global supply ... Read more »

Surefire Ways to Lose Abdominal Fat, Say Experts

Losing weight and having a flat stomach is a goal many people work towards, but getting rid of that stubborn belly fat can oftentimes be challenging. No matter how many ... Read more »

Amazon's Cyber Monday sale starts now — and these are all the best deals

Looking for more Black Friday deals, gift guides and holiday tips? Sign up for Yahoo Lifestyle Canada’s newsletter! Shop these Amazon Cyber Weekend deals that are on now. (Getty Images) ... Read more »

Latest COVID figures as over 100 Irish look to flee South Africa amid Omicron fears

© Provided by Extra.ie The latest COVID-19 figures have been confirmed as concerns around the new Omicron variant gather momentum and 100 Irish seek to flee South Africa. The Department ... Read more »

Crystal Palace LGBT+ group calls on football world to back up words with action

© PA Wire A rainbow corner flag in support of Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign (John Walton/PA) – PA Wire Crystal Palace’s official LGBTQ+ supporters’ group have called on those at ... Read more »

Spurs insider says starlet is now ‘desperate' for a transfer; early January move 'possible'

© Provided by Transfer Tavern harvey white celebrates scoring for spurs Speaking to Football Insider, Lilywhites ‘insider’ John Wenham has made a claim involving Tottenham Hotspur starlet Harvey White. The ... Read more »

Xavi makes bizarre comment about Villarreal's pitch

Barcelona coach Xavi made a bizarre comment about Villarreal’s pitch at the Madrigal ahead of Saturday evening’s clash in La Liga, suggesting his players must adapt because of its size. ... Read more »

Thiago Silva close to agreeing Chelsea contract extension

Evergreen Chelsea centre-back Thiago Silva is close to agreeing a contract extension with the club – a reward for his continued age-defying form. © Provided by 90min Chelsea are working ... Read more »

The #1 Worst Breakfast to Eat If You Have Diabetes, Says Dietitian

Over 10.5% of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with diabetes as of 2020, and over 34.5% of U.S. adults are prediabetic, making diabetes an extremely serious issue for Americans ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic