Being female sucks. We all know this. There’s sexism, misogyny, misognoir, rape, and a whole bunch of bs. There’s all the complete ridiculousness of social expectations for women to be pretty and sexy, to be demur, to acquiesce, to be agreeable and nurturing, to be feminine. There’s the guys who look you in the face, then look you up and down and then either look away or look you back in the face. There’s the constant awareness of being judged by people who you don’t give a shit about at all.
There’s the sudden and thorough push back and bitchification of women who speak out, get angry, fight back. Women aren’t invited to talk about their craprastic experiences of womanhood, and they certainly aren’t encouraged to keep talking once they nerve up and open their mouths. We see it w #metoo, planned parenthood, and advocacy for women’s rights.
I can mostly deal with all a that. I’m even mostly used to it and can block it out, despite being pissed off and occasionally filled w a furious rage. But there’s one thing I cannot get used to. It’s been with me since the beginning of womanhood, and though it happens on schedule, month in, month out, like clockwork, though I’ve come to expect it, I have never and will never get used to it. I’m talking, of course, about bleeding, Aunt Flo, menstruation, whatever euphemism you like, it fucking sucks. There is nothing good about it. There is nothing to recommend it.
In fourth grade we had sex ed at my school. Boys and girls in separate rooms. The women teachers explained about menstruation, how it works, what happens, what it enables (the furtherance of the human species), and how to handle it. The explained wet dreams as the boy version. When I finally realized that wet dreams were neither bloody nor public, and yeah I’ve heard about the rando erection problem, I was pissed that the two were considered comparable. They are not. Unless sperm erupts from erect penis for three days or more in a row, in public, there is no boy version.
I lived in terror that this bleeding would happen to me. I carried a pad in my pocket every day, in mortal fear that suddenly and without any warning my vagina would erupt with blood. This was a constant worry for me. When it finally did happen, somewhere around 14, it was a disaster, a crime scene. Despite my formal menstrual education as well as having been home schooled on the topic, I didn’t know what to do. It was traumatizing. It stayed that way basically to now. What a bloody hell it is to bleed without stopping all through the day and night for days at a time. And I’ve heard horror stories about it going on for weeks or more, irregular periods are not uncommon.
No matter how prepared I am, stocked with supplies like ibuprofen to hold back the swelling and tamp down the pain, pads and tampons to collect the bright red blood, I am never prepared enough to be hit with the freight train of misery of bleeding. It is a horror. It is a crime scene. It is a monstrous and painful inconvenience. Because of uterine swelling, my pants are uncomfortable. Because of the potential for uncaptured blood to run down my legs, I can’t wear anything but black pants. Because it is exhausting, I find my energy depleted at the end of the day and my nerves are frayed from constantly trying to not be humiliated by my body.
Once, on a delayed subway train, blood collecting in the crotch of my pants while I tried to figure out if I should take off my button down and tie it around my waist, leaving me in my undershirt and bra, a guy tried to hit on me. I should have reached down to my bloody pants and showed him a hand covered in crimson. I did not, because of course, I was ashamed of my female body.
What a nightmare. Every month. It’s infuriating. Try having blood gush out from between your legs and still have people expect you to be sexy, to demur, to be patient, to get on the subway train and go to work like everything is normal, and then blaming you for not meeting expectations you never agreed to meet. It really fucking sucks.