It’s such a joke in man-world that when women get together all they do is talk about their periods.
In woman-world, it’s not a joke – it’s truth.
Women who don’t even know each other can speak about their bleeding schedules with no hint of irony or shame. Within minutes of coming into a group of women I don’t know, I have shared the following: when I started my first period, at least one of my own period mishaps, favorite brand of feminine hygiene products, and my own personal lament of the political unfairness that said hygiene products are not free of charge worldwide.
By the way, can we get on this already? While we’re at it, how ‘bout we smarten up on the whole birth control biz, hmmm? Like how you practically have to sell your soul to get it? I mean, really. I can’t even.
But let’s get back to periods.
Women hate having periods. We’re not indifferent or blasé about it. HATE. It’s a terrible, unavoidable mess that we are forced to sugarcoat in pleasant company because the alternative to harping about it is suffering in silence, and there isn’t anything we can do about it. Besides major, last-resort-only surgery, endless doctor appointments, and side effect-laden drugs, that is. Show me a woman who is “eh” about having her period, and I’ll show you a person who is obviously heavily drugged.
Or inhuman. Or indenial.
I can say this because I’m a woman. We were made to bleed every month and expected to keep it hidden from the world during that time, because it is so disgusting that no one wants to hear or talk about it.
Except other women.
When you have an affliction, it helps to know that there are others who share your misery. A period is an affliction. Why, it’s even mentioned in the Bible: In the book of Luke a woman who had been afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years reached out and touched Jesus’ robe and was healed. Hemorrhages is the Bible’s polite way of saying she bled from her vagina. For a dozen years. Let’s pause for a moment and consider what it would be like to have your period for twelve years. I may be adding to the story here, but I think she was even sort of an outcast because of it.
Knowing how I feel when I’m having my period, it was a self-inflicted sentence. She probably gave up associating with normal people at year four. Jeebus, Jennifer, you’re still having your period? Ah, yeah. I’m out.
Now that is a woman who better have a darn nice house in heaven. She probably throws the best parties, too. Girl, get ready. When I get to heaven, you and me, we are gonna sit down and talk about periods.
You and me and all the women.
When women live together for a time, their bodies actually sync and everyone has their periods together. It’s cosmic – magical. It’s vagical.* It’s still a horror show, don’t get me wrong – women don’t get together hoping for a community period. It’s not that kind of slumber party. I’ve been accused of making someone else start her period because we shared a house on vacation. Not such a great feeling, knowing your body has determined to ruin someone else’s good time. It happens, and try as we may, we can’t control nor take back our vagic powers. They are propelled by a force untamed and raw, instinctual and heartless.
Like a shark, the primitive period has no feeling or compassion. It just does what it was meant to do – make life suck. It doesn’t care that you go to the beach once a year, or have a honeymoon to enjoy. If it needs to arrive then, it will. You can count on it, actually. It might go off its regular schedule and show up even if it's not supposed to. Surprise - You didn’t bring enough underwear! And a six-pack of teenager-sized tampons is $15.99 in the hotel shop!
And there’s little you can do about it outside of constructing an elaborately-timed regimen of birth control pills or a months-in-advance scheduled doctor appointment for device insertion designed to thwart the real inconvenience of having to be within walking distance of a bathroom every hour or so for the bulk of your trip. Add to that the additional inconvenience of having to keep from maiming the man who accompanies you and who doesn’t quite understand the importance of this.
Despite sharing your bed, your toilets, your sinks and sometimes even your shirts, the man you live with manages to forget that this happens to you Every. Single. Month.
Are you having your period again?
Every woman knows all of this to be true, and despite the frustration of period life, I am grateful that I can share my woes with other women, even those for whom periods are but a distant memory due to the sweet relief of surgery, pregnancy, or menopause. For it means that I belong to a sisterhood who knows the truth, who will always have my back. Who knows the difference between period and non-period undies, who understands that the bathroom scale should give a range instead of a specific weight, who listens to me when I cry about not being able to wear white pants today of all days, and passes the tissues.
Or a spare tampon, a hunk of chocolate, a Midol, or even a sweater to tie around my waist if needed.
She’s got me. Even though I probably just made her start her period.
*I can’t take sole credit for this awesome word and all that it means. It came up during a conversation with some friends, and we all deemed it the word of the century. Thanks girls. Okay. And guys. xo