Photo credit: Maytinee Kramer
Maytinee Kramer/Staff Writer
Though every woman is different in her own way, there is one thing that many of us have in common: a visit from good old, Aunt Flo.
Almost every woman can recall at least one traumatic story that featured Aunt Flo’s visit and sometimes those stories feature a feeling of shame or embarrassment.
For something that is completely natural, normal and healthy, a majority of men also still shy away from the subject. Along with women, men should take part in breaking the taboo that surrounds menstruation. One way to start is to carry feminine hygiene products. Periods should be put squarely on the public agenda and everyone should take menstruation into consideration.
Many women, myself included, still hide their pads or tampons up their sleeves on their way to the restroom – even then, we try to be discreet about it, as though the girl in the stall beside you hasn’t experienced the same feeling.
For many women, it is embarrassing to ask another woman for a tampon or pad. What’s worse is not getting one because no one else has one.
No matter how well a woman tracks Mother Nature’s monthly visits, no single smartphone app or calendar check can guarantee that a period will be punctual. This leaves women feeling uncertain and worried about when their period will come and they are often caught off guard at the most inconvenient of times.
Men in turn, should stop avoiding the subject and stop treating periods like they’re disgusting. Just because men don’t go through menstruation on a monthly basis doesn’t mean they should pretend it doesn’t exist, or more importantly, not care about periods or avoid helping.
With the amount of women who menstruate in mind, men should develop a chivalrous habit of stashing a few lady products – perhaps in the glove compartment of their car or gym bag.
However, expecting men to carry or stash pads and tampons for their female friends still seems like a far reach, especially in consideration to how society still dominates the taboo that surrounds menstruation.
Periods still remain a taboo topic due to the lack of discussion about menstruation during the early age of a girl’s life. This consequently translates in the lack of comfortable discussion as adults.
Menstruation is still perceived as unclean or embarrassing and girls are taught not to speak about it publicly or in private because it’s an inappropriate subject. Making matters even more difficult, feminine hygiene products are largely inaccessible in the Unites States and even hold an imposed luxury tax, despite access to such products being a basic human right.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that only 22 states and Washington D.C. require public schools to teach sex-education. However, there is no mandated curriculum, which means lessons vary from school to school without clear indication of how thoroughly menstruation is taught to both boys and girls, let alone if it’s being taught at all.
Efforts from a growing number of advocates, entrepreneurs and female lawmakers to destigmatize periods have been especially heavy in the past year, with Cosmopolitan magazine calling 2015 “The Year The Period Went Public,” after conversations about periods reached never before seen levels.
Yet men haven’t stopped shying away from the topic of menstruation or have even stopped period-shaming. There are a few, though, that understand a woman’s situation.
One local Miami teenager, José Garcia, believes men should stand by women and carry extra tampons and pads in their bags just in case a woman needs them. Last year, Garcia started the #realmensupportwomen hashtag after garnering attention for posting a photo of himself holding pads and urging all guys to carry sanitary products to help women. Even feminine hygiene product brand, Kotex, took notice and created an advertising campaign for #realmensupportwomen.
Fellow Panther, Soo Min Lee, a junior majoring in Chemistry, doesn’t mind carrying feminine hygiene products for his girlfriend.
“[B]ecause it’s better to have them in case of an emergency than to be sorry,” Soo Min-Lee said to Student Media. “I’m not embarrassed at all. I think it’s more embarrassing to walk around with your girlfriend showing blood marks, so why not carry a few to prevent it?”
However, while he feels comfortable about carrying feminine hygiene products himself, he understands that men in general may not feel the same way.
“For general friends, I don’t think they will feel comfortable carrying such products for no reason, but if it’s for their girlfriend, it shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about. I mean, what is embarrassing about carrying it for your significant other?” Soo said.
FIU, a university committed to keeping its students safe and healthy, should encourage discussion that emphasises that a woman’s period is nothing to be ashamed or uncomfortable of. Apart from providing free tampon and pad dispensers in the university bathrooms, male Panthers should be encouraged to support their female friends.
Doing so is an appropriate step towards destigmatizing periods. If men develop the new habit of stashing sanitary products for their friends, perhaps they, along with women, will become less embarrassed about walking through the tampon aisle or talking about the subject. Even though it’s about as womanly as possible, guys should be a part of the incredible section of nature that is the reproductive system.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Image courtesy of Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/peem/110326970/in/photolist-aKsn9-8tpkd1-cZEhR-LeeP-8ZiZ8K-pmfFQf-aABK5j-6ErWFm-cKHiD5-9voe1j-aJiDer-jbYVMj-8tpkJU-GNJr-GNyZ-aEo5Vz-7CG5BD-pGFtFw-55hqgu-7Xgvwv-7uS3nt-89MM1n-7wispq-7xbr5a-8QWdfY-a2HJLW-9otzYH-5952a-ujQKP-8H4Z9-8BkYHA-aABJTy-a4ZVM-34zbpv-5952b-6TMdi-7fXTC3-a6DvcR-aABJvd-7ZmMRc-7ZmMRB-7wNY7R-8Qiw93-7yQDVZ-6PSCVX-7t1tkG-7XjK3d-6PnzBM-5VHMn6-7Sc6Bv
While backwards in its end goal, I do agree with one aspect of this "article": the stigma around periods is pathetic.
I’ve never had any issue buying tampons or pads for friends or girlfriends, asking around at concerts when one was in need, or even simply cleaning off when it occurs during sex. It’s as natural as life gets, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
That said, the idea of men carrying around women’s hygienic products is laughable at best. Should I store a wide assortment of tampons and pads in my pockets? I rarely have a backpack. And even so, isn’t that their responsibility to carry what they need and to keep some track of it? Everyone is geared towards removing individual responsibility. This is a pathetic idea that just continues that trend.
They shouldn’t be destigmatized, there should be a taboo surrounding them, and they shouldn’t be discussed in public.
People do all sorts of things naturally that should remain private. Everyone goes to the bathroom, for instance, but very few people would advocate discussing bowels while bowling, defecating over donuts, or chatting casually about their hemorrhoids with their neighbors. (…and telling men to routinely carry women’s products "just in case" is about as realistic as suggesting that everybody carry toilet paper to lend out.)
Quite frankly, it’s absurd and improper to think that bleeding from your genitals should be something we should all chat about in public. It has nothing to do with feminism. It has to do with the fact that the solids, fluids, and gases expelled by our bodies is hardly a topic people should broach in polite conversation.
It’s no wonder you remained "Anonymous" for an opinion like that ^^