Why are we celebrating menstruation?

Good question.

We have received some critical feedback from the community, asking why we are holding the Menstruation Celebration. In the minds of some, we are reducing women to our bodies; in drawing attention to menstruation, we are obscuring and overlooking the diversity of womanhood – the variety of experiences that women have. One person rhetorically asked: If you are having a part about menstruation, why are we not celebrating ejaculation?

Rather than address these concerns from a position of defense, I want to tell you why it is meaningful to me to celebrate menstruation. While not all women are menstruators, monthly bleeding is a reality that many women have to deal with. Our society tries tirelessly – with odored tampons, thong-fitted pads, vaginal deodorants, Midol – to hide the existence of menstruation. We pretend it is not happening. When it is acknowledged, it is constructed as a nuisance, a pain, a thorn in one’s side. I am not saying that all bleeding women should love their cramps or love the mess of menstruating – cramps hurt. But I do feel that celebrating menstruation, drawing attention to the fact that it is happening ALL THE TIME, is an important step in the struggle to help women feel comfortable in our bodies.

Recently, there have been studies showing that women are supposed to feel “different” in the days before, during and right after their periods. Laura Owen writes about this idea in her book called Her Blood Is Gold: Celebrating the Power of Menstruation. Owen says that the act of ignoring bodily signals and emotional changes in fact increases the pain and discomfort that some women feel. In erasing these differences, telling women that menstruation does not make us any different from men, society is denying the power and creative energy that some women feel while menstruating.

This party is an act of reclaming – revisioning – rescripting cultural accounts of menstruation. It is for all members of our community, not just women, because we can all challenge predominant cultural attitudes.

So, I invite you all to join us tonight!

Thursday, 8pm, Lunt Basement

* arts/crafts * cupcakes * tea * things to learn * raffle * music * good company… *

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2 Responses to Why are we celebrating menstruation?

  1. Bikash says:

    Dear Jessie,
    What you have raised is an issue that deserves attention both for individuals(men and women) and the society.Menstruation and ejaculation can’t be equated on the same standard, for a woman essentially bears(consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly) the burden of menstruation for the sake of mankind which is not always the case with ejaculation(I feel myself inferior to even refer to the term ejaculation here because it has no relevance here though its has its own importance). And, menstruation is like irrigation that nurtures the feminine body and psychology.

    In India, and more particularly in South India the Hindu tradition did celebrate menstruation. When a girl reached puberty and experienced her first period, the family(dominantly women) celebrated the event with rituals and greetings to the girl. As they used to say, the girl was now regarded to have ‘gained knowledge’ (i.e., getting conscious of her identity as a woman, and moreover overcoming childishness). This helped the girl psychologically atleast as she now could feel that it was a good sign. However, the celebration usually stops there, and it does have its relevance because grown up girls would not like to get attention of the world around them just for their periods.

    Although it is also true that religious traditions in India, like in other countries, did recommend a number of restrictions vis-a-vis menstruation, it is also true that in their best forms these restrictions did favour the concerned woman. Like, she was not supposed to cook, but to take rest.

    On the other hand, Tantric tradition took it otherwise. It saw menstrution as a rejuvenating experience for the woman, and hence believed that this could be the best time for her to get spiritually charged.

  2. My mother and I created a kit to help families organize a celebration of their daughter’s first period after celebrating with my daughter and her cousins as they started their periods. All of the girls are now adult women and they share that the celebration at the time of their first periods and realizing they now had something in common with their adult female relatives that they could share made them feel more accepted and comfortable asking questions as they went through their teens.

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