How Did Menstruation Become Taboo?
Even today, menstruation is spoken about in a ‘hush hush’ manner in a lot of places. It’s a taboo topic and you’ll see several chemist shops giving sanitary pads wrapped in a newspaper or a black plastic bag. Considering it’s a natural process, menstruation should be spoken about without any inhibitions.
The indisputable truth about how menstruation became taboo is not yet known. That’s because menstruation is far older than language and by the time people understood the science behind it, it was already considered taboo.
One person who did extensive research on this topic (but still ended up being controversial) was Chris Knight. He wrote the book Blood Relations – Menstruation and Origins of Culture. He argued that women themselves created a taboo around it to control men. They refrained from having sex while menstruating and would oblige only when their man brought home a hunted animal, clearly only offering a man’s perspective.
On the contrary, historian Robert S. McElvaine said that men developed the taboo because they suffered from reproductive envy. They stigmatized the process to compensate for what they couldn’t do biologically.
Another theory proposed by renowned neurologist Sigmund Freud was that the presence of blood scared people leading to the stigma around periods, which seems more plausible and more in tune with human nature, being afraid of things we don’t understand.
Although it'll be tough to wipe out centuries of stigma, things are improving slowly and steadily. Padman, a movie based on menstrual hygiene, was created to bring awareness to menstruation and was accepted by many people. Certain companies like Zomato have even started offering period leaves to their employees.
Still, the ground reality is different. An astonishing number of women, especially in rural India still don’t have access to sanitary products and suffer from period poverty, using rags , ash, leaves etc. to manage their periods. These have proven to be extremely risky to a woman’s health. It’s time we de-stigmatized menstruation and spoke about women’s health more openly, accepting periods as we have accepted brushing our teeth in the mornings, completely normal.
About Friday Undies
We make eco-friendly, reusable, period underwear for women in an effort to reduce the 9,000 tonnes of plastic waste generated from sanitary products in India, every year. Period underwear is easy to use, comfortable and completely rash-free. Use it for discharge, periods or even minor bladder leaks.