I have just been reading an article about how women are covering up their periods with pseudonyms introducing Pat Penny Pam – all the P’s instead of saying period. Although strangely Mary is the most popular name!
It got me thinking about why this might be so, OK I might not go around saying I’m menstruating – I might if I need to make a point and it can seem functional to say bleeding or period. It might seem a bit of a laugh to say you have Pam in your pants. The thing is it still makes me think that we are hiding a bit, like putting your reusable pad up your sleeve so no one sees the contraband in the office.
The thing is it just goes onto deepen the shame and tabooness about it but also confuses the hell out of everyone. Yes, it might seem a tad awkward saying penis or vagina to your child at such a young age but it’s what they are called, they aren’t called tinky winky and noo noo as far as I remember. That is the alien creatures that were the Teletubbies – god help us they were confusing enough.
Friends of mine have called body parts what they are to their children. So when their kids asked what that is pointing to their nethers it was met with that’s your penis. It has been met with some outrage which is strange, because we call every other body part what it is. I don’t hear people referring to arms and legs as wave machines and walking sticks because that would be weird!!!
However when it comes to our bits down there we all become very British start coughing and call it fluffy before quickly changing the subject. Kids except and process waaaaayyyyyy more than we give them credit for. One of my friends told me a glorious story of being in a public toilet with her son, when he was about 3 years old, changing her pad and him asking very loudly why she had jam in her pants. The tension of how she was going to answer this was palpable
There are children out there dealing with way bigger things than calling a body part it’s proper name and understanding that mummy bleeds and it doesn’t hurt her it’s all very natural. If it has always been there and spoken about, it’s just a way of life – want kids to freak out, save it all up till they are teenagers and then let it fly!
The covering up of it all also leads men to be kept completely in the dark about it too. Again, I disagree that boys should not be taught about periods, all men will live with someone who is having them at one point or another. Men learn the most when they get married to a woman, I can certainly say Mark has had the baptism of fire and now knows my cycle pretty intimately, doesn’t bat an eye about pads, cups and pants and even makes sure I have enough nettle tea in the cupboard.
He is the first to admit he didn’t have much of a scooby about it all, and has been genuinely worried, amazed, horrified at some of my periods and pretty fucking grateful he doesn’t have them.
So, I’m asking for a call to action here that for every pam in our pants comment we have to say 5 of either period/menstruation/bleeding to make it even. We owe it to the future generations who I hope look back on all of this and laugh about how uptight we all were while lending their mate a reusable pad because that is all we carry in our handbags.