There are so many interesting things to write about this week. I could write about Oprah trying to rap with the overly sponsored poster child of a good rapper, Jay Z. Or, I could write about the 25th Anniversary of the Cosby Show and how I can’t stand the grown-up version of Rudy Huxtable, Keshia Knight Pulliam. Or, I could write about the new HIV vaccine that shows hopeful possibilities. Or, I could write about the governmental propaganda behind and moral panic of the Swine Flu H1N1. But, the only things I can think about this Friday morning are my cramps. Yes, I said cramps. And, if you have not guessed by now this post is about women’s menstrual cycles. So if you have a weak stomach stop reading now. Yes, this post is about the monthly visitor. To be honest, I don’t like the phrase monthly visitor because it falsely gives the idea to men and naïve non-pubescent girls that women’s encounters with their cycles will be like entertaining guest in their homes where the guest are polite and charming.
Yeah right. It’s more like a hostile bank robbery where the biology of having children forces your ovaries to produce eggs causing body crippling pain that would make a grown man weep and gnash his teeth against the rock pavement crying out loud, “God, why hast thou forsaken meeeeeee to bleeeeed!” Humph, I am convinced that if men could experience only a small measure of what we endure until we reach the blessed promised land of menopause they would know without a doubt that we are the stronger sex. And of course we are forced to be strong because the thing about having a period is that I have no choice not to have one without drastically altering the hormones in my body. So, I like every other woman in the world between the ages of 15 and 48 bleed, cramp, and curse the male gods. Yeah, it was definitely a male god who did this to me . . . partially kidding.
And have you noticed that when you’re on your period people seem to be more annoying, more irrigating, and more in your space then they should be? Yes, I’ve noticed. And, I like many who cramp have shared polite if not loving words with these individuals resembling the clip in I’m Gonna Get You Sucka where Cheryl played by the amazing actress, Dawn Lewis, also known as Jaleesha of A Different World tells Damon Wayans to go away because she is cramping badly. (Watch the video it’s hilarious, but it’s also a good representation of how I would respond to an attacker when on my first day of my cycle when the cramps cannot be soothed by Advil, Aleve, and Tylenol combined).
Hey, what can I say Monica had it right when she song:
It’s just one of them days,
When I wanna be all alone.
Its just one of them days,
When I gotta be all alone.
It’s just one of them days,
Don’t take it personal.
I just wanna be all alone,
and you think I treat you wrong.
Don’t take it personal.
I guess if I’m honest having a period is not all bad because historically and even now it gives women space to be by themselves or to be in the midst of other women only because men historically, religiously, and presently are afraid they will catch our “sin,” our “uncleanliness,” and our sometimes “fishy smell” depending on what we have eaten so they leave us alone. Yep, it’s a generalizable fact that men will melt like the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz if they come into contact with a bloody tampon or pad. This is so true that when I was a teen my mother made my sisters and I triple wrap our pads place them in a paper brown bag wrap them in a white plastic bag and take them outside to the “main” garbage can and wait for the trash to be picked up.
Can you imagine having to do all of this six times a day? Okay, clearly I am kidding about waiting for the trash to be picked up, but the point is that y father, grandfather, and any other man in the house had to be completely kept in the dark that we were on our periods. And yes I had three sisters which meant we are tended to bleed around the same time. All in all, having a period allowed women to escape the male gaze on occasion. Of course, this is not to say that some women did not enforce the male gaze in “the red tent,” in “the moon den,” or in “the goddess circle,” but that women had a space where they could talk about women’s work, girl’s initiations, stories of girlhood, and gossip about such and such. A good representation of this is found in one of my favorite books of all time is Anita Diamante’s The Red Tent. The Red Tent tells the story of Dinah who in the Bible was raped. Instead of leaving the story where the Bible leaves it of Dinah being raped, Diamante writes a story from Dinah’s perspective about the love, the complexities, and the hurt of polygamous families and how the menstrual tent becomes a place where Dinah and the other women in her family learn skills, stories, gossip, and family secrets.
Well, perhaps, in another post I will write about the politics of the period, but this post is about the pain, humor, and woman centeredness of having a period. Yep, it is about being able to laugh as one bleeds.