Menstrual periods have been associated with several cultural myths and taboos. While looking at it from a socio-evolutionary perspective, most cultures have been shaped out to be patriarchal in nature. It is commonly established that “male” is “normal” while women have been considered to be deviant from being “normal”. Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, has discussed the ideas of Hippocrates and Plato about ‘penis envy’ and ‘wandering womb’ to be the reasons for psychological issues in women.
Taboos are nothing but perpetuating thoughts and beliefs over a particular period of time. They are embedded in our collective psyche that we refuse to let go of them even for the better.
From a socio-psychological perspective, these taboos and myths about menstruation have been formed due to the circumstances and quality of life. Thus, the natural cycle has adopted cultural connotations followed by a set of restrictions and taboos.
Why Does This Happen?
Several households in India even the educated ones, still stop women from doing several things during their menstrual periods. During this time, women aren’t allowed to touch anything holy. They cannot enter a temple or cook food. The utensils to cook their food are kept separately from the rest. Since books are considered God-like according to our culture, girls aren’t allowed to go to school or touch books.
According to a Global Policy Forum research by Julie Mollins, more than 300 million women in India do not have access to safe menstrual hygiene products. Around the world, 2.4 billion people lack access to basic toilets. This is not only endangering the health of women but also curtailing them from education. It results in cultural prohibitions, shame, the thought of impurity and taboos.
In a study called “Stree Arogya Shodh” conducted between 2001 and 2005, in Goa, 2494 women participated in it. It was found that 72% of them used cloth napkins and only 19% used disposable sanitary pads.
How Can You Break The Taboos?
Usually, women have the “walk of shame” while carrying their sanitary pads in their hands. The topic of menstruation has been considered the “best kept secret” of women. Not only men but even women shy away from speaking about bleeding.
There is no reason to shy away or hide that you bleed. Menstrual periods are nothing to be ashamed of. Both men and women can work towards making this very important topic a mainstream one. Let’s stop hiding it or speak about it in whispers which cannot be heard. Women, be loud and proud as you say that you bleed. Men, be bold enough to accept that the “that time of the month” is a natural process of the human body.