A Candid Check for Menstrual Leave
Sowmya Nandan

“..came across quite a bit of opinions about how menstrual leaves may be misused. That is true. They may be manipulated and misused. So are all leaves and exemptions across private and public sectors since the beginning of creation of workplaces. So this particular brand of ‘concern’ seems flaky.
Another wildly contradictory opinion surfaced -rather unsurprisingly from privileged women- that they did not need a day off to bleed, for that would seem weak, to acknowledge that their bodies are lesser ‘work compatible’ than men’s. These women compared taking leave on their period to an archaic Kerala tradition where women were not allowed in their houses or any human contact during their monthly menstrual cycle, and were forced to live in a separate building further away in the backyard.
What is exceptionally clever, is that, only the upper echelons of the society had these ‘other’ buildings and the women from lower castes, made do with their verandahs even during monsoon or winter.
To be a woman and comparing menstrual leave to being asked to live off their home to bleed is a cold slap on feminist movements. It just shows how women can be patriarchal- willingly so- but such womenfolk are almost always from the privileged classes. This gesture from media houses is not discriminatory, nor threatening to shut you in a warehouse to bleed. It’s a monumental step in the direction of gender equality.”
I think it’s fair to say that it shouldn’t be assumed that only first day of periods are painful. Factory workers in Thailand actually get 2 days off a month during their periods. I understand that pain is not just on the first day and not everyone needs it, but I think this is a larger gesture to assert gender equality based on bodily realities that has been largely stigmatized as cultural taboos or neglected in the current “efficiency” driven industrial society.

Like you’ve said, when menstruators who have ailing health issues like dysmennorhea or PCOS, trans-men assert this as their need, it would make sense to push for a policy. But most of the opinions on this matter has been voiced by people from a privileged position and hence can’t be taken representative of the whole.

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