My dad has been extremely supportive when it comes to my periods, among many other things. He was there for my first period and many after that. I do not have to think twice before talking about the throbbing pains or the edgy behaviour my hormones make me go through. He knows what medicines I take when the pain can’t be endured and keeps himself updated about the stock of sanitary napkins in the house. I feel all sons, dads, husbands, brothers, boyfriends or for that matter, any other male member should be like this, because, periods are not a “women’s issue”. Men and periods is a long ignored issue and we must get down to talking about it.
But how many men have you seen talking about periods? Hardly a few.
They shy away from having these conversations with their daughters, wives and mothers. The stigma associated with periods can only be shredded off only if men know about it and talk about it without any hesitation. Recently celebrity chef Vikas Khanna tweeted appealing men to be more concerned about women’s menstrual health, especially in times like these. The chef has started a campaign with Farah Khan to donate 72,000 sanitary napkins. This comes as a welcoming move as the workers must have already been going through a lot and since they belong to lower socio-economic strata, the stigma is even more. Because one always wonders what’s it with men and periods?
Just like every other essential item, we do not have pads or tampons stocked up in the lockdown. When men can bring in vegetables, fruits and other necessary goods, why do they feel shame in carrying pad packets, considering it is for their own loved ones? There has definitely been a considerable change in our gaze towards menstrual health, but there is still a long path ahead.
The stigma starts at our home. It begins when a father gets dubious if asked to buy pads or medicines for their daughters or wives. Mothers propagate the message of periods being a hush-hush topic when they condition their daughters to not talk about menstruation with their fathers, sons or male friends.
I talked to a colleague who lives in Rohini, Delhi and she revealed, “For me, especially men in society don’t take women’s menstrual health seriously. They feel that it is very unethical and shameful to discuss about menstruation. Buying a pad is something some people can’t think of. They consider menstruation and conversations around it as a sin. Hence, people refrain from talking about it in public.”
While females go through the emotional and physical pains five days a month, most males turn a blind eye to the issues. Moreover, many male friends instead of supporting girls, mock them, which is extremely disheartening. Many schools host special sessions for girls to talk to them about this biological process and prepare them for the transformations their bodies might go through because of it. However, preparation can never make up for these sudden changes. An empathetic attitude from the people around can surely help them sail through puberty. So, why not include boys in these sessions?
Men need to be more involved in conversations about periods. Just as mothers teach their daughters to keep an extra pad in their bags, the sons should be taught how to look after their sisters during “those” days. Something as little as getting a hot water bag or a bar of chocolate can make girls feel much better. Similarly, a father should never hesitate to talk to his daughter about how she is feeling. He should always be ready to re-up the stock of pads in the house.
So, dear men, take extra care of your mother, spouse and daughter while they have their menses going on. Make them laugh, get them sweets or spices, or whatever they like, let them take rest and manage their tasks as much as you can. It’s time we flush the stigma around periods down the drain.
Saavriti is an intern at SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.