Article by Kimberly Gillan /
January 31, 2016 /
Click here to view original /
WHENEVER it’s that time of the month, I enter a covert undercover operation.
I diligently fill a little purse with sanitary supplies lest anybody sees the obligatory bright packaging and gets wind of my situation. If I ever need to pull out a tampon for a trip to the loo, I’ll stealthily stuff it in my pocket under the cover of my desk lest any of my colleagues work out why I’m really going to the toilet (because the other reasons for going to the toilet are so much more savoury?).
My husband can usually tell what’s going on thanks to my scheduled snappiness and early bedtimes but I’m even hesitant to bring him in on the real deal. After he offered to carry my lipgloss and ID to a gig recently I insisted on lugging my huge handbag just so it could house a tiny tampon.
When he clocked on to why I wanted to carry a tote he said, “give it to me, I’ll put it in my pocket”, as unphased as he ought to be about this totally mundane occurrence.
I identify as a feminist and will shout loudly about the need for equal pay and an end to violence against women but in the next breath I’m shamefully hiding evidence of one of the very things that makes me a woman.
I blame the “period toilet” from my primary school — the only cubicle in the school with a sanitary bin, which was deemed disgusting by prepubescent students and avoided at all costs. It made for a pretty awkward navigation for someone who developed early — I took to hiding pads in the waist of my skirt and raising my hand for bathroom breaks mid-class in the hope nobody would bust me in the cooty loo.
And it turns out I’m not alone. Dr Lauren Rosewarne, University of Melbourne social commentator, says women have been keeping their periods secret since, well, forever.
“In primitive times, menstruation wasn’t understood and in some contexts it was associated with the supernatural so women had a good reason to keep it hidden,” she told news.com.au.
“In modern society, our preconception with hygiene has coerced women to keep discrete.”
But that time may be coming to an end.
Just this week there’s an illustration exhibition called ‘Shark Week’ happening in Melbourne exploring all the bizarre names we use to refer to this pretty ordinary feat — “a little ketchup with my steak”, anyone? — highlighting the uncomfortable language that shrouds periods.
Meanwhile blogger Constantine Hall has posted to her 315,000 Facebook fans about having her period and apologising to her husband for the two days of snappiness in the lead-up to her period. It got more than 23,000 likes and 2000 shares.
So should we all take a leaf and Tweet about our PMSing or style a flat lay of our sanitary items for an artful Instagram post?
Look, I probably won’t but I’m certainly going to relax my super sleuth effort. If someone spots a tampon in my hand, they can know that, yep, I’m like almost every other woman on this planet.
“I’d like people to feel unashamed,” Dr Rosewarne says.
“I’m not sure I particularly care about whether women want to blog or rant about their periods but I’d like a woman to feel comfortable enough to discuss it in her private relationships if it’s relevant or she feels a need.”