Because squeamish men still remain the dominant hegemonic force in society?
It’s a silly thing. Not menstruation, but the concept of a normal, healthy bodily function being concealed and hidden and euphemised into oblivion. Essentially, large tracts of the female body are off limits for discussion.
Why does this opinion have such cachet? To the point where a basic biological function is deemed inappropriate for conversation in polite society.
It’s a matter of perspective. Basically, we do largely live in a patriarchal society. The concept of maleness is still the dominant force, and the ‘natural’ viewpoint from a cultural perspective. This is why both men and women are bombarded with grotesque imagery of ‘beautified’ sexualised female imagery. ‘The man’ dictates a large part of what femininity is supposed to be.
And ‘the man’ sees menstruation, and pubic hair, and leg hair, and a million other perfectly normal biological processes, as alien and dirty and unclean.
This isn’t to say that all men think this; or that all men are evil.
But it is to say that a lot of men fall into the trap of thinking that their opinions/beliefs are ‘normal’ without questioning them. Without seeing how they’ve been influenced by the gendered, unbalanced society we live in.
So menstruation is occluded. Turned into harmless blue water for the adverts (which are all about being discreet and not letting ANYONE know that your uterus is doing it’s thing and cleansing itself for a new cycle).
We’re told that the female body is disgusting, whilst being bombarded with images of the female body as a sexual object, the ultimate symbol of desire and availability.
The whole thing is warped.
Life is beautiful. Childbirth is beautiful. Without menstruation the human race would die out nearly instantly.
To think of a fundamental part of our life cycle as taboo and unmentionable is absurd.
So let’s not. Let’s talk about this, particularly the boys. Learn about menstruation.
The way we challenge the ideas of ‘the man’ is to question and talk about all these things. Open up concepts for debate. There should be no idea considered ‘normal’ or the ‘default’ that hasn’t been questioned by everybody. We are brilliant creatures with huge, apparently self aware brains. We are capable of thinking about morality, ethics, altruism and rightness. We are capable of deciding what the limits are on acceptable behaviour. We are capable of outgrowing our supposed instincts. To a large extent we already have, and we’ve replaced them with something else.
The conservative forces here, I’m representing as ‘the man’. The man is an imaginary concept of the forces that keep society grounded. That try to ensure stasis. It’s essentially cultural inertia. A certain path is set by the ‘dominant forces’ of society. It’s everywhere. It’s in your brain. It’s the routines you’ve assumed are natural.
Challenge everything. You’ve got a big brain, so use it.
Talk about the taboo, work out what you believe.
And maybe soon it’ll be cup-time for everyone.
Illustration by Anna-Kaisa.