Reflecting On the Pioneering Period Policy
Emotional, educational and highly empowering; Alexandra Pope’s half-day seminar outlining the numerous benefits and implications of menstrual awareness has now been and gone. After an at times contentious reaction from the media in it’s lead up, the seminar itself exuded a resounding feeling of hope and optimism in revaluing the menstrual cycle as an asset and not a liability.
Using an array of examples Pope started the day by firmly establishing the importance on cycles in our everyday lives. She then continued this line of thought by reinterpreting the menstrual cycle as a seasonal transformation of summer to winter; a positive, proactive glowing period of ovulation is contrasted by a more inward and self reflected ‘call to leave’ during menstruation. The benefits of the former she argued, can only be harnessed through a deeper understanding of the latter. By neglecting this intrinsically natural cycle in the workplace, we open ourselves to both internal and external conflict.
Key to any application of menstrual leave within the workplace is trust Pope argued, which in turn leads to a reevaluation of the level of independence traditionally allowed by employees. Proof of illness has become too embedded in our work lives that it simply forces us into an unhealthy overdrive. Ultimately, we should work when can work our best, and when we cannot, being forced to will only harm ourselves and those around us.
Pioneering Period Policy was equally not just about menstrual leave though, but about destroying the patriarchal taboos surrounding menstruation, and challenging societies negative conceptions of vulnerability in-and-out of the workplace. Passionate members of the audience made use of the discussion following Pope’s seminar to express the positive, negative and undeniably prominent effects menstruality has had on their lives.
Bex Baxter, a director of Coexist and one of the leading forces driving this event, surmised the morning by suggesting that the media flurry surrounding PPP has signalled an overdue readiness for menstruation to be openly discussed. This readiness was powerfully embodied at Hamilton House today, and looking forward we must hope and ensure that the conversation has only just begun.
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