The other day I saw a bunch of western feminists collecting their period blood to paint marvels; another “empowered” woman attracted media by knitting a scarf drenched in period blood. The proposed idea to annihilate taboos surrounding menstruation passed across generations, despite its logic, failed to entice me. No bodily waste is apposite of adorning your living room or warming up your neck – neither the menstrual blood. I discard all old wife’s tales entailing a myriad myths centering menstruation, but I cannot deny that it is blood – completely sterile – but blood after all. Would you fashion a blood splotched bandage as a shawl? I am guessing, no. But they came out claiming periods as their strength, a power distinctively bequeathed upon them to create life, an ultimate edge over “men”– Fair enough!
Then, why going back on your words, ladies? Why playing the victim card and seeking “pitty privileges” presenting your greatest gift as your weakness? What am I am talking about? It’s this petition floating across social media asking for a “Period Leave”. Women are generally given a long rope to dance about their decisions, go back and forth on their choices; we are indecisive, they get it– but this is downright hypocritical.
As a woman bleeding 12 times a year, since the past 16 years, I can confidently claim to have experienced every stage and suffered every pain defining menstruation – but have I cowered? My mother, quite modern for her times, never stalled me from entering the Pooja ghar, didn’t let me miss a day of school either just for my ‘best friend’ was paying her monthly visit either. ‘It’s a biological norm, you’re not sick’ she said. Then why must these empowered women push for a day off, a paid one at that, for the very reason of being a woman is beyond all reason? At one end we applaud the sanitary napkin ads engendering women to challenge periods, take up the most daunting of tasks, prance around streets in white trousers, play basketball, and win championships heartily, with the same passion we demand a leave on the first day of periods – this, to me, is self-contradictory. Either emerge victorious in ads or stay curled up in your dull couch at home – you have to pick one and stick to it.
It’s interesting that gynecologists snub this propaganda of privilege seeking manipulators guising themselves as the savior of 21st century women, aka, pseudo feminists, entirely. The gym trainers encourage moderate workout and yoga (excluding certain postures) during that time of the month; an active body and mind, they suggest, divert the mind from cramps and PMS. Having a productive day outside the threshold of your home, chirping with colleagues, even bitching about the boss leave you more comforted than the lonely living room. Sipping green tea and imbibing tall glasses of lukewarm water are among the many easy home remedies that bring great relieve during the day.
Though periods have been a common physical phenomenon since the beginning of life, one cannot deny that every woman experiences it uniquely. Shahana doesn’t feel a thing down her belly, Gayatri finds her uterus turning itself upside down. Mehak peddles a bike even on the first day, Rubia changes twice in 8 hours, and I sit with a bottle of warm bottle on my lap – it varies from woman to woman and calls for varied magnitude of attention – not everyone needs an entire day off. Now you may shame me for not championing a cause for women, to which I would say, in hindsight you will alone rue this plea if made a mandate. Barely a handful of organizations that can afford this luxury will welcome it; others will sulk. Mid-sized and private organizations would think twice before adding women to their workforce, promoting the existing ones, or hand them challenging projects that call for speedy completion.
Periods are excruciating for some women, no denying. Makes sense if they apply for a work from home or leave, but enforcing a paid period leave would only bite the working women’s back in the long run.