Men­stru­a­tion frus­tra­tion

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Ke Rensi Page Edi­tor: weixi@glob­al­times.com.cn

Drink more hot wa­ter” is the last piece of ad­vice that women want to hear dur­ing men­stru­a­tion. When I’m on my pe­riod, sev­eral things weigh on my mind. First, I worry about hav­ing cramps. Also, I want to hide my pe­riod. Over the years, I switched from san­i­tary pads and tam­pons to men­strual cups. Men­strual prod­ucts are get­ting smaller and more “in­vis­i­ble,” but none of them dis­pel my fear of leaks. I’m con­stantly scared of leav­ing blood stains on my pants, the bed and chairs. Drink­ing more hot wa­ter is cer­tainly no so­lu­tion for anx­ious women when it’s that time of the month.

I wish to see men­strual prod­ucts with leak de­tec­tors which will re­mind me ex­actly when I need to go to the re­stroom. The only rea­son why smart pe­riod prod­ucts re­main an un­charted ter­ri­tory is that we are still fet­tered by pe­riod sham­ing.

Pe­riod sham­ing starts with si­lence. I didn’t know what men­stru­a­tion was un­til I got my first pe­riod. My dad de­lib­er­ately stepped aside to let my mom give me the “men­stru­a­tion talk.” Com­pared to my mom’s ex­pe­ri­ence when she first got her pe­riod, dur- ing which she was alone and con­vinced that she was go­ing to die, mine was less pan­icky but equally per­plex­ing.

For a long time, like many other girls, I bash­fully re­ferred to men­stru­a­tion as “nei ge” (that) or “li jia” (days off), wore baggy, dark pants on my pe­riod and al­ways hid my pads at school. I didn’t dis­cuss my pe­riod with any­one ex­cept my mom. My dad loves me very much, but he once com­ment- ed that it was “an­noy­ing” for women to have pe­ri­ods. Look­ing back, that’s pe­riod sham­ing un­der the dis­guise of em­pa­thy.

To­day, it’s still hard to talk about men­stru­a­tion in China. Few peo­ple know that May 28 is Men­strual Hy­giene Day. Ac­cord­ing to men­stru­al­hy­gien­e­day.org, 350 events took place in 54 coun­tries in 2017 to raise aware­ness of chal­lenges women worldwide face due to men­stru­a­tion and high­light so­lu­tions that ad­dress th­ese chal­lenges. I think China will also ben­e­fit from more dis­cus­sions on good men­strual hy­giene man­age­ment.

Last year, a mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive at a do­mes­tic tam­pon com­pany told me the so­cial stigma of men­stru­a­tion stunted their growth. He said in­suf­fi­cient sex­ual ed­u­ca­tion in China and the con­ser­va­tive sex­ual val­ues of some par­ents are to blame for the com­pany’s mar­ket­ing chal­lenges.

I agreed with him. I re­fused to use tam­pons for years, but when I even­tu­ally stepped out of my com­fort zone, I de­cided not to limit my­self to one fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­uct any­more. San­i­tary pads, men­strual cups, pe­riod panties and tam­pons all have pros and cons. Now I make de­ci­sions based on my men­strual flow and the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties, and I look for­ward to more user-friendly and en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly pe­riod prod­ucts to choose from.

China’s “toi­let rev­o­lu­tion” has come a long way. If more hand soap and pri­vate basins are pro­vided in pub­lic re­strooms, more girls and women will be will­ing to use tam­pons and men­strual cups.

Be­sides, quite a few male idols have en­dorsed fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts. Why not take on one more task – ed­u­cat­ing boys and men to care for their men­stru­at­ing fe­male coun­ter­parts and say no to pe­riod sham­ing?

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