Periods have always been a shameful secret. Tampon and panty liner ads are euphemistic, coy and confusing. I mean what are those mysterious blue ink excretions and why are all those hyperactive, bikini-clad girls leaping about with such alacrity it’s hard to believe that grade A narcotics aren’t involved? Does having your period mean a girl can suddenly water ski and bungee jump? I can remember as a kid wanting my period so badly because the brochure in my sister’s tampon packet said I’d be able to “ride a bike and go surfing.” At the time, I couldn’t do either. Mind you, females with PMT (which stands for Permissable Man Slaughter) are more likely to be in the mood for revving chainsaws and throwing hand grenades than going swimming.
Adulthood doesn’t eliminate embarrassment. I was in the front aisle economy seat of a Qantas flight bound for Sydney, when, on the steep climb sky-wards, my baby’s nappy bag toppled forward, emptying out an entire box of tampons. In the seat-belted silence of the ascent, all forty tampons rolled slowly down the aisle like jaffas, right to the back of the plane. For the rest of the flight, strangers kept handing them back to me. I blushed so hotly you could have fried chips on my face.
Donald Trump is the latest period-shamer. After being challenged by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during the first presidential race TV debate, he later dismissed Kelly’s questions by implying that she’d been menstruating. “You could see that there was blood coming out of her eyes,” Trump bellowed. “Blood coming out of her wherever…”
The Republican’s response to the ensuing public backlash only made things worse. Cornered, the power-hungry, golf-addicted, comb-over King, blustered that he’d been merely referring to blood coming out of Kelly’s nose. He went on to say that anyone claiming otherwise is “deviant” – a statement which only serves to highlight his disgust. (Clearly Trump’s loathing of menstruation also explains his hatred of Liberals – he just can’t stand our bleeding hearts.)
But it’s hard to believe that in 2019, menstruation remains such a taboo subject. Recently at the Australian Open, British tennis player Heather Watson sent a tsunami of shock around the world when she explained that going out in the first round was “one of those girl things”, which decoded as cramps, back ache, lethargy, dizziness or mood swings. It’s the first time a sportswoman has mentioned menstruation. Mind you, I’m amazed that advertisers don’t take advantage of the Wimbledon rule that players only wear white, to advertise their sanitary products. There’s never been one single accident on the courts. Whatever tampons those players wear, are clearly more resilient than Federer’s forehand.
But whatever brand, tampons are the most liberating invention. They’re freedom, with strings attached. The most obvious thing about them is that they’re not. Yet poor access to menstrual health is a massive part of discrimination against females. The shocking truth is that only 12% of girls world wide have access to safe sanitary products. In Africa one in ten girls misses school when she has her period because of inadequate facilities and information.
In a survey conducted by the U.N. almost a third of females say that they knew nothing about periods. Over 70% thought menstrual blood was dirty and could curdle milk and sour pickles. In Iran, over 40% of girls surveyed by Unicef thought menstruation was a disease, probably cancer. In Nepal, menstruating girls are often forced to live in animal shelters.
I’m a spokesperson for Plan International. In their #JustATampon campaign, people from across the globe posted selfies with tampons. It’s a way of taking the stigma out of a biological process affecting half the world’s population for up to 3,000 days of her life. We would also like to see tax taken off sanitary products. Perhaps someone should point out to male politicians that these are a necessity, not a luxury and really should be free.
But attitudes are improving. There is now a Menstrual Hygiene Day and some great initiatives to provide low-cost sanitary protection to girls. But it’s clearly time we stopped the shame. And we should be bloody-minded about doing so. Until then, all women remain just slaves to the Rhythm.
To help break taboos around the Menstrual Cycle, read more about Plan’s work here.
What do women really want in bed? Breakfast. Oh, and a good book. If you’re looking for a funny, frivolous yet feisty new read, do slip between my covers. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Here’s a selection of scribblings in which I peel down to my emotional underwear – a psychological striptease that occasionally reveals all.
I think women are each other’s human Wonderbras – uplifting, supportive and making each other look bigger and better.
If he wants breakfast, tell him to sleep in the kitchen.
Men think monogamy is something you make dining tables out of.
Many marriages break up for religious reasons – he thinks he’s a god and she doesn’t.
Love prepares you for marriage the way needlepoint prepares you for round-the-world solo yachting.
Boys will be boys, and so will a load of middle-aged boys who should know better.
Ladies who lynch.
No wife ever shot a husband while he was vacuuming.
I think therefore I’m divorced.
All husbands think they’re Gods. If only their wives weren’t atheists.
Happy wife = happy life.
I couldn’t ask for a better husband… as much as I’d bloody well like to.
Statistically, 100% of divorces begin with marriage.
Marriage is nature’s way of promoting masturbation.
Marriage is a fun-packed, frivolous activity – only occasionally resulting in death.
It’ll be an amicable split. You’ll both get 50 % of the acrimony.
A new invention is required. The monogamous husband. Patent Pending.
How Do I Hate Thee? Let me Count the Ways.
My wedding vows didn’t say To Love, Hoover and Obey.
I’m Having my period so can therefore legally kill you.
You are going to enjoy this marriage, even if I have to divorce you to do so.
A happy marriage is like an orgasm – many of them are faked.
All this emphasis on women faking orgasms, but what about men faking foreplay?
Why do men like intelligent women? Because opposites attract.
Why don’t women tell jokes? Because we marry them.
What does a woman really want in bed? Breakfast.
For women, life is full of lies – I mean doctors maintain that wrinkles don’t hurt.
Legal aid cuts prove that the Tories believe a person is innocent until proven destitute.
Sexist men are so stupid it makes you want to take the ‘men’ out of Mensa.
If a man ever tells you that women fall at his feet – it’s only because he gets them drunk first.
A woman must always fight back. Never just lie back and think of Canberra.
The best cure for menopause is the toy boy diet. A case of having Your Beefcake and Eating It Too.
I don’t fake orgasms. I’m faking being six foot one and seven stone.
Trophy wives tarnish quickly and then get left on the shelf.
Lawyers work 24/7. The partners of lawyers suffer from a bad case of subpoena envy.
Most shrinks should book an appointment with themselves.
The question on the minds of most women is – why doesn’t chocolate go straight to your boobs?
Don’t fall for a man’s puppy dog look… Just get him wormed.
It’s been so long since a man has touched me, not even medical science will want my body.
My top tip for keeping your youth? Lock him in the pool house.