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Men and periods

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OCTOBER 27, 2016

If there’s one thing I learned about men, it’s that they have no intentions of dealing with women and their periods.

Though women handle bloody messes every month and still hang on by a tampon string for decades, men who come in direct contact with a few drops of blood every so often have no trouble expressing their knee-jerking disgust.

I once warned the guy I was sleeping with that I was spotting and suggested we do it in the shower if he was really concerned about his spanking new sheets. He weighed the pros and cons, and he concluded that the benefits of shower sex would not be worth the effort. So we did it in his bed anyway and, stupidly, without a towel laid down.

It was his decision to part the Red Sea sans protection and most of the evidence of my fertility had been removed with a Tide-to-go pen. Yet, it did not stop him from talking crap about Aunt Flo for the next few days, as if she was an unexpected guest.

To spoil this already tainted narrative even further, he told me that he felt uncomfortable sleeping in a bed with traces of my blood and that he was embarrassed about the maids coming in to change the period-smudged sheets. Apparently, my period blood was not only disgusting but also something for him to be ashamed of.

And I was taught the same ideas growing up.

At home, my mom would lecture me for a good 10 minutes whenever I accidentally left my tampon unwrapped in the trashcan of a communal bathroom. The moral of her rants was usually that seeing my fully saturated tampon would be too scarring for fragile men and that a woman’s bodily functions should remain a mystery to the opposite sex.

The girls in my high school also reinforced the same notion. My friends, in their quasi “I’m bleeding like a stuck pig” yoga-pants-and-hoodie uniform would shyly ask each other for tampons, as if they were exchanging something more illegal than cotton. Then, they would proceed to slip the tampon into the hoodie sleeve before walking to the bathroom, praying that no guy saw evidence that they’re healthy and not pregnant.

It is seemingly a crime for men to learn about a woman’s body.

With the archaic notion that periods are gross and shameful, men internalize those ideas and women end up sheltering men from their periods. Then, ill-informed guys develop a misconception about the menstruating woman and a habit of getting flustered when confronted with an intimidating floral-scented pad. And though not every guy has a mild case of hysteria every time the Red River floods, the men I’ve met have generally been less than chivalrous about my menstrual “problems.”

Aside from getting swoony at every mention of periods, immature guys sometimes use “PMSing” as a reason to invalidate women’s concerns and angers. Though premenstrual syndrome does sometimes, perhaps, maybe have slight symptoms of irritability, it does not give anyone the right to ignore a woman’s concerns on the basis that she is “hormonal.” Menstruation doesn’t compromise brain processing.

Unless the period comes right after a potential impregnation, men are unreasonable and less-than-empathetic about menstruation.

What’s even more unfair is that there is no male equivalent to shaming women for their periods. All women have is calling men out for accidentally cumming on their sheets, which is far more controllable and hardly comparable. Plus, men don’t have to shove cotton up their dicks to prevent cum from seeping out.

With the social stigma surrounding periods, men will always have something over women.

I didn’t ask to have my waist temporarily expand an inch every four weeks, I didn’t ask to stain every pair of underwear I own, and I certainly didn’t go to bed hoping that I’d bleed on your sheets come morning. Periods are frustrating enough as they are without men throwing in their two cents about cooties and hormones.

If blood were coming out of every dick in the country, not only would thousands of pairs of cheesy American Eagle underwear be destroyed but guys would also be staining their girlfriends’ sheets just as much.

So try to be more understanding, and thank biology that you’re fortunate enough not to have to fork over $5 to U by Kotex instead of to a monthly Spotify Premium subscription.

Be glad you’re not the ones dealing with the periods. You just have to deal with us while we deal with our periods, so at least do a good job with that.

Catherine Straus writes the Thursday blog on taking two sides. Contact her at [email protected].

OCTOBER 27, 2016