We all remember the horror/shock/embarrassment of getting our first period. And we also all know what it’s like to be shamed for PMS and the disruption to our lives, careers, and education that period pain and suffering can invoke. But just as us enlightened women have risen up in the fight for equality, it’s time to smash through the shame of menstruation, open up the bloody conversation, and be out and proud about this beautiful, natural part of life.
Menstruating is, after all, a rite of passage for every woman — one that deserves celebration. It’s a sign our bodies are working perfectly, in the way nature intended, preparing us for the ultimate act of sacrifice and empowerment — giving birth. So let’s banish any thoughts of penis envy — it’s time to make a loud case for womb envy, as Gloria Steinem does so eloquently (and hilariously) in her iconic essay, “If Men Could Menstruate.” Here’s an extract…
“So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event: Men would brag about how long and how much. Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day.”
We could also go on to surmise that economic impacts, like the tampon tax here in the US and period poverty worldwide, would be non-issues. Steinman takes that one step further, offering, “Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free.” (A-men! Or better yet, A-woman…) Her musings on male menstruation, although written in the days before influencers, also included some fun collab ideas, like “Paul Newman Tampons,” or “Muhammad Ali's Rope-a-Dope Pads.”
All fun to imagine, but let’s get real. While many would believe that male menstruation would grant guys serious bragging rights related to the power of their masculinity, we women know all too well they’d be the first to run to the ER when the cramps kick in. And don’t even get us started on men being able to handle the animalistic pain of childbirth. (Check this out if you need proof.)
The real question we like to ask here at Cleo is not about how men might handle having periods, but what can we do? How can we work together to break the cycle of period pain, discomfort, and disruption? Beyond our products, which include PMS-fighting power like our Save Your Sanity multivitamin/multimineral supplements and our cramp-battling Comfort portable therapeutic heat patches, we believe it’s time to take an unapologetic approach to breaking the taboos and stigma associated with periods. We invite our Cleo Community to share their stories on our social media channels, explore health and wellness advice here on our A-Game blog, and stay up to date on the latest news and editor-approved articles on everything from period relief to emotional health and how to have mindblowing sex.
Because in the end, it’s on us women to insist on equality and dignity when it comes to menstruation and beyond. We after all hold the creative force in our hands (and vaginas). Period.