The Bleeding Wives.

Photographed by Aarti Pekette

I use to make jokes about how ‘If Men had Periods…’ they’d probably gloat about it. The conversations all over house parties and Pubs would consist of a bunch of boys standing in groups, and instead of talking about their workout routines and baseball games, once every month they’d be talking about their Periods. “Dude, I bled for 5 FUCKING DAYS you know!” while the other one would respond with “Yeah but what was the flow like? How many pads did you use up?? If you only used up like 4 in a day then you’re such a Pussy (because of course…) Even when I bleed for 3 days it’s some heavy flow shit Bro”

“Fuck off, I don’t believe you. How many pads a day?”

“Like, easily 6 Super Pads”

That’s when everyone else would look at the one strong man, and nod with respect. Before they’d excitedly click their beers together because “You’re going to be a Dad one day dude!”

… and the women would stand around in a corner, mesmerized by how strong these men were — measuring strength and masculinity with the amounts of penis blood.

I swear — this would be our reality. Maybe one i’d rather opt for than my own. And you know who’s to blame for it? Take a wild guess… Nope — it’s not the Men. Men can be very transperent, outspoken and genuine at times like these. I would have so much respect for the fact that they’d see their own heavy blood flow as signs of strength — something to gloat about. Men don’t teach men that periods are gross.

The problem is us — women. Women that hush-hush about periods like it’s a fucking crime. Like they are unholy and untouchable on those days. The reason why even a 12 year old boy gets grossed out by a girl’s periods is because the 12 year old girls — are ashamed of bleeding. You know the common factor? Parenting. Mothers.

I spent a whole day talking to women in villages about Menstrual Hygine, and most of them didn’t even know why they bleed. More than half of them didnt know what was going on when they got their periods. They stuck the Pad on themselves instead of the underwear. Some thought they were going to die. Some even wanted to commit suicide because they didn’t know what they’d done wrong and couldn’t face their mothers. Some… were already married.

A lot of these women have daughters — and you know the scary part? They’re not comfortable discussing Periods with them. But of course — its how they were raised themselves. “Whats there to tell? My mother never told me. I had to figure it out myself and so should she” is the way they see it. One of the woman’s daughter saw a ‘Whispers’ ad on TV and asked her mother what that was — she was so ashamed of responding to her daughter’s question that she walked out of the room. Till date, that little girl thinks pads are used to soak up water after we wash our hands. I worry about the day she gets hers.

Myths like women are impure and will transfer insects into anything they touch is still widely believed all over our Country. “The Tulsi will die…” But when you ask them for one good reason why — none of them have an answer.

And I swear to God if even one Tusli has ever died because a girl on her periods touched it…

When will we stop being ashamed of bleeding? It’s not a god damn choice, you know. It’s how your body EVOLVES from a ‘girl’ to a ‘woman’ (insert sarcasm). It’s how you can one day produce off springs. The ONE thing every man, woman, mother in-law, husband, neighbour wants in a woman is the ability to concieve a child. Without that, your whole existence as a human seems futile. So when you give so much god damn importance to a woman becoming a Biological Mother — You should be fucking celebrating it.

We worship Women and Mothers but then get irked about a girl on her periods to such an extent that every Sanitary Pad and Tampon is wrapped up in a Newspaper and then put into a Black Plastic Bag — I may as well be assumed for a member of ISIS.

I don’t know who to blame, the people that hand them over to me, or the rest of us that accept it?

Till earlier this year, far too many people would tell me, “whats the point of talking about this on the internet? The real women that need to hear this are in the villages and they don’t even have access to the internet. You’re wasting your time.” Now — after spending time with them, I can assure you that that’s the biggest lie you’re telling yourself.

Why should I talk to women in villages who don’t even have enough knowledge on why they bleed every month? I can talk to them about Hygiene — but why, will I talk to uneducated women about period shaming when I can’t even talk to the educated likes of you about your periods? These are women that still use cloth to soak their blood because most of them can’t afford other hygenic methods — What gives me the right to tell them to be proud of their blood when girls like you and I are still whispering about it every month?

If I am still surrounded by educated, smart women that think Periods aren’t something to be discussed publicly, then my fight begins right here because the women in those villages have far bigger problems on their plates. And i’d like to think that you’re not a waste of my time…

First start talking about Menstrual Hygine in your own families. I know we’ve been suppressed for centuries… but this is our chance — now.

Stop feeling shy when you publicly ask for a pad or a tampon in a Pharmacy or from a friend. Stop taking PMS out of context and making dumb jokes about women that are going through it…. and lastly, TALK to your sons about it. Women think periods aren’t a thing to discuss with their boys and that’s a misconception that’s causing most of the problems we’re facing regarding this issue in the current times.

The blame is truly on you.

Photographed by Aarti Pekette

Think about this: One day, your Son’s are going to grow up to be Brothers, Husbands, Fathers, Father in Laws, Teachers, Doctors, or better yet — The Prime Ministers of our Country, and if you teach them a thing or two about the importance of Menstrual Hygiene, maybe we wouldn’t be paying tax on the most basic fundamental rights of women, while optional marital accessories were being handed to us on a platter.

… Just in case we were getting too smart, too independent, too educated, too confident of our individual existence, let’s just slap us back into our real places.

Are we really too proud of the symbolic blood of every woman that becomes a wife in our Culture than we are of being a Woman itself?

Because instead of celebrating the birth of mine, we are just silently celebrating the death of I, and the birth of Yours’ Truly.

Saloni Chopra

Photography by Aarti Pekette
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