I am having a period right now, which is something you might not want to know, but which I’m telling you anyway. I do realise that with that opening sentence I have shape-shifted in your mind, from exotic, red taloned Lipstick Queen to hideous feminist stereotype – the hairy lady who wants to tell you about her period, for reasons you quite can’t quite understand. But bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.
Single ladies: we don’t talk about our periods enough. Or at least, you don’t, I’m assuming, if you’re anything like 100% of the women I’ve met who are not me or my lesbian sister. It’s not the done thing, or so I’m led to believe, to talk at length about menstruation to people who aren’t your gynaecologist. Especially in situations where a man might overhear, and be grossed out by the thought of gooey fresh lady blood.
Alright, it is acceptable to ask another woman for tampon, and to refer to the crippling pain you’re experiencing by way of explaining why you look like ten types of shit. But this is not enough. This is not discussion. It is avoidance, it’s euphemism. It makes us look like we are embarrassed to be women, with healthy, functioning wombs.
I talk about my period all the time. I am obsessed with it. The novelty just doesn’t wear off. Right from that first premenstrual moment when the smell of bacon frying half a mile away makes my tummy turn, and the Sam Cooke track they’ve dubbed over a rose-bush montage on the Chelsea flower show makes me sob helplessly, like someone recently bereaved, I HAVE to share. And why not? The period is a miracle. A wholly bodily experience, which has never been anything less than thrilling to me. A consciousness altering, corporeal, physiological wonder that happens every three weeks*, like magic, unless you’re growing a baby, or have stress, or problems with your womb, or are elderly.
According to the Bible (or at least the interpretation of the Bible I’ve digested somewhere in the course of my, not inconsiderable, education), the period was bestowed upon women as retribution for giving in to the temptation of sin in the Garden of Eden. It upsets me a large amount – and confirms to me that the Bible was made up by an unattractive man with too much time on his hands, and not enough imagination to use it for masturbation – that menstruation is equated with punishment, as I have found my menstural cycle to be one of the most complex sources of pleasure my body is able to provide. I hope, by the end of this posting, you’ll be kind of agreeing with me, even if you also conclude that I might actually be mental.
Period appreciation is hard to do when you’re in a relationship because you have to half-sympathise when your partner gets cross because you can’t have sex without laying an old towel down first. Us single people, happily, don’t have to deal with such tedious concerns.
Where to start with period pleasures? We’re usually so conditioned to think about periods as the baddie that we don’t stop to applaud their cunning trickery. Like when you and all your mates go on holiday together and have a period at exactly the same time. How do they do that? How do they know? (I’m pretty sure it’s something to do with the moon, although no one has yet been able to explain to me exactly what that something is. If you know, do use the comment section below to share, I’m seriously interested). You’ve got to give the period praise here, and feel sorry for it. I think it knows that other women are very annoying and exists as a kind of scapegoat we ladies can use to bond over, and in the process, avoid scratching one another’s eyes out.
To appreciate the period only insofar as it serves as a uniter of the women is quite reductive though. The main source of wonder, at least for me, lies in the way the period gives you that heightened sense of being alive. The sensation of being a creature of the body. The hurty boobies and buzzy hormones that make you go all trippy, the fervored, sweaty sleep with dreams that form into half awake realities just beyond reach, that delicious, dull ache that the patriarchy like us to call pain, but that is really a kind of extended love hum emitted by the womb -encouraging you to take it easy with a hot water bottle, a mug of warm milk and a bubbly mint Aero.
If we could just lie there and enjoy it, instead of being forced to get up and behave like rational robot men, I swear we could get rid of all the period negativity and make each monthly visit from the womb fairies a celebration of being a human body alive in the world. Even the bleeding, which isn’t really blood but a majestic, metallic life force that we carry within us, and which, if we choose, we can capture in a moon-cup and have a little marvel at over tea with our hippy lady friends.
So Yeah. The period: what a babe. And having time to lay back and finally admit that you enjoy it is a total reason to be single.
* Yes, the conventional wisdom is that they’re monthly, but – as you know, if you’re a woman, and probably don’t, if you’re a man who is unschooled in female reproductivity – what that means is that you start a period – which lasts maybe five to seven days – and then you count 28 days from that first day to get your due date for the next one. Meaning that three weeks or so after you finish ‘bleeding’, you’ll be having your period again (can I get a ‘woop woop’?).