Is It Really Necessary To #TweetYourPeriod?
Since the days the book of Leviticus warned “‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening,” a stigma has surrounded menstrual cycles and anyone with an XX chromosome who has them.
Though numerous centuries have passed since that Biblical declaration was first handed down, in 2016 many women say the residual effects of period shaming are still very real, and the latest attempt to offer some relief — and not the kind that comes in a Midol bottle — is the social media campaign #TweetYourPeriod.
The effort was started by writer Risa Pappas who on Memorial Day issued a “Call to Action” on her blog:
For the past few months now, I’ve had this idea. You see, over 50% of the population of the entire human world menstruates, has menstruated or will menstruate. Not exactly a newsflash. And yet, we never talk about it. Not with as much openness as I think the experience warrants.
Why not? Why do we never see it? Why are commercials for period products feature blue water? I’ll be 30-years-old on Thursday, and not once has blue water come out of me, no matter how many Blue Hawaiians I drink. The narrative of our menses is largely hushed out of popular cultural space.
It has always bothered me that the period is so taboo when it’s not a proclivity, a defect, a perversion or even a problem. It’s a normal, biological process. I’d like to live in the kind of world where we can speak openly and frankly about our periods, not be shamed for having them.
So since the start of my period on Thursday, I have taken to live-tweeting about it, sharing updates on what’s physically happening, ruminating on the shame I still feel while it’s happening, explaining some of the difficulties that come with it, and of course, occasionally posting a photo or two. (As a writer, I guess I’m used to sharing.)
This shouldn’t be shocking, offensive or even noteworthy. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the same process that gives us adorable babies is systematically maligned when we don’t particularly want to be pregnant in a given month.
Let’s change the narrative. Let’s put our bodies front and center on our own terms for a change. Physical female perfection will always be the standard to strive for in a culture where men won’t even acknowledge what happens to us once a month. Let’s start a conversation. Let’s make this a #RedSummer. Be brave, and join me when your time comes.
Since Pappas’ declaration, many women have taken to the tweets to declare this a #RedSummer. Thankfully, what that doesn’t mean is sharing images of bloody tampons and pads. Instead, women are openly discussing how periods affect their general wellbeing– like making them compulsively eat, suffer through cramps, and overall feel like s-h-i-you know what. Essentially, the things you likely tell your girls when it’s that time of the month are now being blasted on social media for the world to see as part of an overarching movement to destigmatize menstruation.
Personally, I’ve never felt that socially strapped by my cycle and still tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to social media oversharing, but if this effort helps women get through their bloody days a little bit better then have at it. Still, it’s not lost on me that the face of this feminist effort, like so many others, is quite monolithic, making me question, not whether period shaming is real, but whether the women most affected by the stigma of menstruation — like those in third world countries who don’t have access to sanitary products and whose shame around that time of the month runs far deeper than blue water on an Always commercial — are being left out of the discussion when they arewho this issue should really be about.
Will you #TweetYourPeriod and make it a #RedSummer?