Unlike my period, this article is only going to be a one-time thing, so it’s not exactly a periodical.
However, the topic of periods is most certainly a periodical one, because it is the one universally understood subject that any group of women can resort to discussing, and good grief, once we start, we do not stop harping on about it, and with good reason.
I’ve always had this hope that if I ever had to be held captive, and one of my guards happened to be female, I’d be able to mention in passing that I’m getting period cramps, and she’d just do away with authority, put her rifle down and say,
Female guard: Oh girl, I feel you. Due in a week, babes. I know where you’re coming from!
Nicki: God bless hot water bottles, eh?
Female guard: Preach girl. Preach. Let me get you my stash. I always hide a few pads in my combat boots. Brilliant storage space.
All the male guards, including my interrogator, would be recoiling in horror and evacuating the underground bunker. They’ve probably witnessed and lived through unimaginably gruesome terrors, but the minute a woman mentions her period, they can’t handle the heat and are left traumatised for a month. So the female guard and I would be left to bond over menstrual cycles, and that would probably lead to a very fair negotiation and she’d let me go scot-free. Periods bring people together.
Here are a few historical facts about menstruation.
Fact #1: In ancient Roman times, women on their periods were considered to have mystical powers that could control weather conditions and crop growth.
If we really could control the weather with our vaginas, humidity and bad hair days would’ve been a thing of the past.
Fact #2: Women have always had periods, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that doctors realised that it was the womb shedding its lining. In fact, they had no idea it had anything to do with fertility. They genuinely thought that period blood was a poisonous liquid that was released from the female body to cleanse her of toxins and bad energy. To them, this process of shedding prevented the woman from becoming hysterical.
They clearly hadn’t heard of PMS.
Fact #3: Feminine hygiene isn’t just restricted to sanitary towels and tampons. There’s a long list of peripherals that are designed to contain the blood flow, and people have been quite creative throughout the ages as well. The first prototype for the tampon came about in Egyptian times, where softened papyrus was inserted into the vagina. Other cultures also made use of animal skins, wool and grass. These are all very absorbent materials and you can see the logic behind their use. However, the sea sponge is possibly the most bizarre entity to be inserted into the female body to absorb blood. There are actually sea sponge farms around the world which cultivate this sea creature in order to manufacture bath sponges and menstrual sponges. Some women prefer to use these as they are more environmentally friendly and are less likely to cause infection. They are also reusable and can be washed after your period is over, ready for the next month.
I’m also willing to bet that someone somewhere in the world has named her trusty menstrual sponge Bob, which is stored in a pineapple.
Fact #4: Certain tribes and communities of Nigeria, Bali and South India send women who are on their period to live in isolation in menstrual huts. There is the argument on whether or not such a practice is oppressive or indeed empowering to the women of their communities. On the one hand, menstruation is treated as something contagious, and therefore the concept ostracises women from their society. On the other hand, women who go to the menstruation huts bond over their shared cycles, and they do consider the custom to be part of their cultural identity. However in 2005, Nepal had banned the practice of isolating menstruating women in cow sheds.
Well, by locking your wife in a cow shed, she could misconstrue that as you calling her a fat cow. A lot of men must’ve been given the silent treatment in Nepal.
I do think though, that we can draw similarities between ourselves and the custom. A lot of women would love a few days off in isolation on the first few hours of their period. It’s quite often that we have to call in sick because of severe discomfort. Absolute solitude for the first few painful and hormonal days of my period? Bring it on. Left alone with no one to bother the emotional wreck that I am? Brilliant. I’ll be in my room watching re-runs of Scrubs with a bucket of KFC. See you in a few days.
Fact #5: According to Orthodox Judaism, it is considered unclean and sinful to have sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman. Once they have finished menstruating, married Orthodox Jewish women immerse themselves in a mikveh – a bath that is designed for ritual immersion – to purify themselves. In certain Hindu societies of Southern Asia, menstruating women are not allowed to come into contact with other people’s foods, for fear it might contaminate it.
Fact #6: In World War I, French nurses figured that cellulose bandages used on wounds made for better absorbers than cotton (most women resorted to using simple cotton rags). This sparked the idea for sanitary towels, and in 1921, American brand Kotex came to be. However, they still had to be pinned to their underwear or to a menstrual belt. It was only in 1969 that the first self-adhesive pad went on sale.
Fact #7: It is for certain that from the time recorded history started mentioning womanly functions till 1969, women wore menstrual belts, an elastic contraption that went around the waist and had buckles that held to it a gargantuan pad. Fetching.
Fact #8: Women before the 19th century had less periods than the modern woman because of malnutrition. Also, women were frequently pregnant due to cultural obligations, so they were relieved of the bloody burden whilst up the duff.
As you can see, we’ve been through some rough s***, as have our wombs. We’ve had more red liquid flowing out of us than the Nile when Moses wanted to shake things up. We’ve worn things that don’t even have a fetish category on the kinkiest of websites. We’ve inserted things that I’m sure were not meant to go inside of us.
Just remember this, ladies. Ashton Kutcher understands our plight. Here’s why.