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#CultConvos

WE BLEED 🔴RED NOT BLUE!

Menstruation. It’s a necessary biological function experienced by half of the global population yet still associated with taboo, discrimination, and age-old practices in countries all over the world. In reality for 1.8 billion girls, transgender men, and non-binary persons of reproductive age, and millions of menstruating young women across the world ( Refer to UNICEF Reports ) it is still an ongoing fight to bleed with dignity and count me as one among them. As time has changed we have new perspectives and no wonder we are living in the 21st century and for your kind information now menstruation is just not a feminine term or girl topic it is now a gender-neutral term with respect to trans and non-binary (menstruators) as well. But still, we follow the same traditions of discriminating and ill-treating young adolescent girls, menstruators, and women in the name of periods.



On the positive side, we are happy to see a hand full of non-profit organizations and young people advocating for menstrual rights and menstrual justice, menstrual health and hygiene, access to equal sanitation facilities, advocating for the right to bleed with dignity, and young people fearlessly breaking the taboos and myths surrounding menstruation. On the other hand, we have a set of people or norms of the society that say don’t talk about such topics, it's a sin, shhh say that in my ears. Do you know the same people from the society, our family, our community discriminate against us on the cultural and traditional point of view without a second thought from the time when we attain our menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation).


Frankly speaking, I am not blessed with peaceful periods; rather they are painful, sometimes messy, and stressful. Most of us tend to experience symptoms like exertions and vomiting, cramps and anxiety, body aches and dizziness, premenstrual syndromes (PMS), weakness, mood swings, and dehydration as well but don’t worry that’s all-natural and part and parcel of our life cycle that we go through every month, again and again, and is a recurring hormonal process in our body till the day we attain menopause (A natural decline in reproductive hormones when a woman/any other binary gender person reaches their 40s or 50s.). Despite dealing with all that internally we have a lot to deal with externally. A lot of times we are under societal pressure to follow a set of rules and practices that directly hurts our overall well being because those discriminating practices are leading to a huge impact on our mental and physical health till date.


The below excerpt/poem will give you a reality check on my personal experiences and observations of going through the societal stigma and taboo on menstruation and unlearning diverse perspectives and voices from different parts of the world.



WE BLEED RED NOT BLUE!


Hi,

Dear society,

I am on my periods,

Shhhh whisper in my ears,

Don’t say it loud,

So what?

Stay low, stay quiet,

We bleed red not blue


Hide it, don't bring in light,

Sit down, you’re not pure,

Can't help it, got no cure,

We bleed red not blue


Go nowhere, be at home,

You’re on periods, you can't roam,

Don't touch, you are impure,

Don’t eat pickles or spicy food,

Don’t go to the temple “these” days,

Let no human know about it,

We bleed red not blue


Okay!

Maybe it's something not so legit,

Dear society,

What should I do?

Do nothing, be in shame,

As we bleed red not blue


Hold on!

Do you still follow this primitive game?

The misogyny stay away don't get close,

She got chums and that's gross,

That’s what we are told,

As we bleed red not blue


Clear your thoughts,

Change your mindset,

Update yourself,

As we bleed red not blue


Let’s open up the negative knots,

Stand up and raise a menstrual cup,

Hold your female friend,

And say it loud,

Periods are common,

As we bleed red not blue


Let's be the one to stop this agitation,

Let’s end period poverty around us,

Let’s talk about periods,

Let’s normalize the talks,

As we bleed red not blue


Let the world know what menstruation is!

Let us spread the awareness,

Let us be the ones to initiate the talks,

Let us normalize menstruation in every household,

As we bleed red and not blue.


We bleed red not blue but that definitely doesn’t materialize women as incapable of carrying out their regular day-to-day chores in personal and professional life. To all the lovely people “ Do what makes you feel good and happy ”. I do whatever makes me feel good and happy during my periods, may it be eating my favorite food, resting and binge-watching, traveling, visiting the temple, hanging out with my friends, doing my cardio exercises, and practice 'Silambam' ( a weapon-based Indian martial art), just like any other normal day carry out my professional work life with a lot of patience and backend dealing with the societal peer pressures ( Now I don’t worry anymore as I am just used to it or surely have gained the practical experience in handling them with ease ). It is important that we feel good and take care of our well-being because our thoughts and feelings create our reality, not society or our peer’s perceptions.


After reading this you may feel that it is too much or you haven’t come across any kind of situation as such but sadly this is the reality and I'm just showing you the mirror. Yes, though we live an ultra-modern lifestyle in our urban spaces, in the end, we have no choice but to deal with a lot of external situations when it comes to menstruation, again and again, one or the other way.


Menstruation, menstrual morbidities, and menstrual hygiene management are issues which are required to be adequately addressed. We need acceptance, and let us be as we are, a change in our society and community, a change in the mindset, pro-active teaching about menstruation and eco-friendly menstrual products in educational institutions, informal talks surrounding menstruation in our households/ schools/ colleges/offices and friendly conversations on menstruation among all the genders.


“ Let’s be vocal, loud, and clear about our menstrual health and hygiene. Everything starts from you, start small even with your small initiatives but keep in mind that this is for millions of menstruating young people across the world ”.


As a young woman, I really wish we have the right to menstruate without being cast out or missing out and discriminated against, without feeling fearful or shame or restricted with taboos and age-old traditional practices, and without being treated like less or exposed to more vulnerabilities. To bleed with dignity is a basic human right of every menstruating person around the world that should be preserved and freely accessible but the bitter truth is that we are still fighting a long battle with the judiciary and the socio-cultural norms of our society. We should pat our back and feel proud that despite all the struggles and barriers we are all able to manage our mental health and menstrual health hand in hand all these years.


Don’t let periods stop you from doing whatever makes you happy. Wishing all the adolescent girls, young women, and menstruators healthy and joyful periods.


Author: Dega Ramya Tulasi











Disclaimer: This blog is entirely my own personal take and experiences on menstruation, menstrual health, and hygiene. It may appear to be silly or far-fetched to others. But I prefer to remain adherent to my ideals rather than parrot to any other ideologies or practices that I do not necessarily believe in.