Why should a woman be shamed for being on her period?

As a woman, I admired the bravado of these students

Mainly because ever since we were kids, we’re told that since we are the ‘weaker/fairer’ sex, we shouldn’t: “Wear too much make-up”, “Wear a dupatta this way” “Wear such high heels”, “Don’t talk so loudly’, Oh yeah, and, “When on your period, channel your inner Jane Bond

” Maybe the men don’t get the whole psyche that’s inbuilt women from the age their periods start

The society has some sort of a state of emergency when it comes to women’s periods

Women are told that periods are ‘dirty’ and ‘not a pious state of being’

So, in case someone finds out that you’re on your period: cue horror

Whatever will they think of you? Whatever will they say? Sanitary napkins are wrapped in brown paper bags at the grocery stores and supermarkets in such severe secrecy, as if they’re drugs or alcohol in a dry country like Pakistan

Oh and it’s totally okay to lie when you’re on your period? If in case, because of your periods or co-morbid symptoms, you are unable to do something, please feel free to lie

Popular favourites are, “But my head aches!” or “I think I’ve got food poisoning” etc etc

Telling someone that you’re on your period is a taboo, a sin, a problem, a social evil

I wish for someone to inform the masses that, according to psychologists, pre/post menstrual syndrome can bring about many symptoms, such as depression, bloating and nausea

Therefore it’s in the person’s, as well as the people around them, best interest to be informed of the accompanying symptoms

This campaign met with a lot of hate

And many of the critics said that this is an ‘elitya’ problem

They elaborate that the ‘real problems’ that plague women are acid attacks and honour killing, and that this should be disregarded for being elitist

But just consider this for a second; the people behind this campaign never said they’re on a mission to solve every problem that has ever been encountered by any woman

Nor did they make any claims about their campaign being representational for all women

These young students that belong to a relatively well-to-do university, only wanted to create awareness for problems that they themselves face on a day-to-day basis

The fact remains, that there are serious diseases that are associated to menstruation, such as dysmenorrhea, polycystic ovary syndrome and migraines

However, women will shy away from addressing such problems because the topic is too ‘embarrassing’

She never has the courage to ask for help or seek treatment

Critics say these are problems of the privileged

And to some extent I agree

Many women in Pakistan who celebrate the word ‘feminism’ have pretty much exploited the term to their own benefit

For example, there are some ‘feminists’ who have acquired an expensive education, handed money to spend as they please, and various other luxuries

This is all from living off of their fathers and, soon after, a suitable husband

They become comfortable begum sahibas who hire underage maids to cater to their children, and hire drivers to take them to kitty parties and lawn exhibitions

When someone like that chants ‘feminism’, it is indeed difficult to take them seriously

Yet the fact remains that the menstrual cycle is something every woman goes through

Whether she’s a queen or a princess, a health worker (who’s on her feet pretty much 18 hours a day) or a university student who has to hide her physical discomfort during an exam or a big presentation

And they all have to go about their lives pretending there’s nothing going on with their ovaries

Maybe it’s about time they want to talk about it? Maybe all women want to talk about it? Maybe they don’t want to be considered dirty just because their bodies are undergoing something natural

It’s nothing to be ashamed of

As human beings, do we consider ourselves dirty for our entire lives just because we poop or pass urine? Then why does a woman have to pretend to be an undercover agent just because she’s on her period? These are young kids who want to bring everyone’s attention to an important social taboo and I find nothing wrong with that

These are young kids who will be tomorrow’s parents – and they won’t, I hope, harangue and harass their kids about the same taboos the way our parents have

When the elite and the privileged want attention, they get it

And sure, they don’t ‘get’ what ‘real’ pain is

Yet to discard their effort completely, merely on this premise can be dangerous; the woman living in the farm, with a family to feed, working under the harshest possible conditions, who can’t even find the time, the energy and the resources to find a decent school for her kids – do we expect her to start an awareness campaign on the taboos related to the menstrual cycle? On the flipside, while there’s a bourgeoisie feminist cliche that exists in Pakistan, there’s a ghairat brigade that jumps at the opportunity of lambasting anyone who attempts to talk about women’s rights

For example, “Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is making these social awareness movies to defame Pakistan

But, the man who is spewing hatred against her and brainwashing generations that women are forms of commodity – such a man cannot be criticised

” Oh no

That’d be blasphemy

The question is, if a woman wants to sit at a dhaba and drink tea, what’s your problem? If a woman wants to run a dhaba in the village, what’s your problem? If a woman wants to prove that the menstrual cycle is a normal occurrence and the reason behind mankind thriving and avoiding extinction – what’s your problem? Why should a woman be ashamed of being on her period? Is it not a regular biological happening? Shouldn’t our daughters and sisters know about menstrual cycles and everything about it from a very young age? And what kind of ‘values’ does an awareness campaign threaten, anyway? The values that allow women to be killed in the name of honour? Where mullahs come out on streets against a bill that protects women? Too long have we associated women with honour in a way that has harmed no one else but women

Values and culture aside, there are people who want the hollow slogans regarding ‘honour’ to disappear

They question these codes of morality that hypocritically only apply to women

They are the people who want women to stop being the victims of a society’s so-called honour

These people are brave people indeed

If this oppression represents the true values of our society, then these values need to be eliminated – only for the positive and progressive evolution of society itself

Every person who talks for women and their rights is respectable

And every person who believes that all sexes are equal and wants to advocate such equality, should be given plenty of space to speak, to campaign

You may disagree, you may offer your criticisms – but you cannot say, “Why are they talking about it? Why do they want this problem to even be highlighted?” In the words of the poet, Shik’va e zulmat-e-shab se toh kaheen behtar tha Apne hissayh ki koi sham’a jalaatay jaatay (You woe the darkness of the night Tis better had you lit the way) This post originally appeared here in Urdu

Date:17-Apr-2016 Reference:View Original Link