I find myself constantly amazed by the amount of males that squirm and tell me off when I mention my period. The boys at my work (Note: ‘boys’ rather than ‘men’ because ‘men’ should be able to cope with a bit of vagina blood. Don’t worry, they don’t read my blog anyway because it’s feminist) actually say “ew” if I mention that it’s heavy or I have stomach pain due to the fact that my ovaries are squeezing out blood.
“I don’t need to know that,” we’re constantly told.
Periods are, really, one of the most normal things to happen. As much as you can rely on oxygen to breathe and the sun rising, you can be assured that a female’s body will try its best to ovulate and, at some point in her life, a woman will get her period. Our uterus sheds blood for a certain 4-7 days every month meaning that, depending on the length of your period, women spend up to a quarter of their lives menstruating. This is 25% of our lives that we go about our daily activities with blood coming out of our vaginas. That’s a pretty prominent portion of time. The fact that this isn’t completely normalised makes no sense. Females have to hear an array of comments either about penises or the objects of sexual appraisal that said penises would like to penetrate. The minute we make a comment about our periods, or pretty much anything abnormal in our vaginas, we’re told to shut up.
I wonder why we’ve created such trepidation around approaching “taboo” subjects that are actually extremely usual bodily functions. For the most part, women have been hiding their periods because of this attitude. Asides from the odd leak or a white-clothing- with-unexpected-arrival type situation, no one can point to a woman in a room and say with certainty that she has her period. Obviously it’s all kept sanitary, but we also try and hide the pains and cramps and PMS that goes along with our periods. The minute we do bring up the struggle we’re called hormonal and moody and men will insist that our cramps “can’t be that bad”. It’s as if mentioning we’re on our periods changes their view of us in their minds, disregarding the fact that women have been operating normally whilst menstruating since the dawn of time. Apart from cases of bad pain, our periods don’t stop us from going about daily activities such as school, work, exercise and socialising. Nor should they stop us from having sex.
Every man is different and the rant that is surely about to come will not apply to all. In my time I have been lucky to have the optimal friend-with-benefits when it comes to my period, his perception of my attractiveness remaining unaltered by it. A simple towel to cover the sheets does the trick, but otherwise the sex isn’t much different, if not better, from when I’m not on my period. It’s a safe space for my menstruation.
But there’s the point; I consider myself lucky because I know that this is not always the case. I have a habit of saying afterwards “Hey, thanks for having sex with me on my period” like “Hey, thanks for not thinking I’m absolutely disgusting and unfuckable due to my uterus blood that is now on you.” I commented once that he was so cool about it and reinforced what a great thing that was. He shrugged and pointed out that it’s not really a big deal, just that my anatomy is different to his and it so happens that I’m the one who has to get the period, not him. A stellar attitude in my opinion, one that should be widely held.
Other experiences have been the opposite. I go home with a guy and tell him I’m on my period and bam: instant deboner. He’s not touching that with a ten-foot pole, so we settle in for a totally redundant sleepover.
The difficulty lies in the right to say no, and guys are completely within their rights to say no to sex if they’re not comfortable with something. I’m certainly not about to force anyone to do anything they’re not comfortable with in bed. At the same time it’s so frustratingly immovable; it’s an attitudinal problem with a biological effect. If a guy isn’t turned on there’s not much you can do about it.
Of course, the scope of if is different for everyone. A guy might not want to have penetrative sex with you on your period but maybe won’t mind pleasuring you with his hands, some might skip the foreplay and go straight for penetration with a condom, whilst others don’t want period blood on them in any way at all.
The latter is, naturally, the biggest problem. It’s body shaming for a completely uncontrollable and natural process. Let’s face it, sex is full of embarrassing and gross things all the time and a lot of weird bodily fluids; period sex simply just adds another to the mix. Women have to put up with cum on ourselves, in our mouths and on our sheets. Why can’t it be, for one week of the month, my period blood everywhere? Both semen and menstrual blood is composed of cellular and non-cellular materials and include plasma and proteins. Blood just has a much more noticeable hue, but they’re fluids involved in exactly the same process; one signals the beginning, the other the end. A cover over the sheets, some emergency Napisan, a shower afterwards and you’re all set.
It’s been proven that sex on your period has amazing benefits as well – from speeding up the length of your period, to easing cramps, to feeling completely amazing due to all the hormones. It baffles me that men wouldn’t think about their partners during this time and want them to feel better.
Imagine if it was men who got their periods and, heaven forbid, a woman turned them away for it. As my friend pointed out, it’s simply the way of the world. It’s women who have the chore of bearing the menstrual process and carry around real-life growing humans in their uterus’ for nine months in order for reproduction to take place. The men’s role in making a baby? Have repeated unprotected sex and ejaculate inside our vaginas. What an arduous task. But that’s the way the duties involved have been divided and, no matter what way they were and which gender performed which, it would have to happen somehow.
It’s really quite simple; if you cannot accept a woman for a natural bodily process, don’t expect her to accept you. Us women are the ones that have to shed our uterine lining every four weeks. I think men can put up with a little blood.