Still from the short film PERIODE 28, which takes you on a dreamlike journey, guided by a mysterious female voice, who shares her intimate relationship towards her own period in a poetic way.
Women go through their female cycle around 450 times in their lifetime. 450 times of bleeding. But also 450 times of ”letting go, letting a dying thing leave their own body, becoming new, regenerating and waxing and waning, not unlike the moon and tides.”* Alas, the average length of a female cycle is 28 days. And this becomes our natural rhythm for a long time. Around 40 years of our life. Like a deep and loyal friendship, which holds beauty, surprises, magic and pain. Emotions, which can get quite overwhelming sometimes. Which we grow into getting along with. Which connect us to the many great things of being human. And which also help us to form a deep bond to our own bodies and connect us to all other women past and present. And of course also to all men, as this cycle is carrying life. Big words. But really, that’s what it comes down to.
And that is why I dream of a paradigm shift so that this beautiful process, this monthly bloody sacrifice, is honoured and accepted more. I wonder why periods are in many or the most places publicly still considered as something rather embarrassing or at least something to not talk about, but rather hide.
In some places and cultures period shaming takes very extreme extents: Just in 2017 Nepal banned the old tradition chhaupadi, which excludes women from their community during menstruation and after giving birth, which makes them vulnerable to illness and crime and sends them into social isolation. But also in the many other places, where girls and women suffer from various sorts of period blaming, even if it’s just the “little things” of feeling uncomfortable talking about it or asking your boss to go home due to some serious period pain. Visible tampon strings. Visible blood. Emotional rollercoasters which might come along with menstruation. Swelling up. Skin irritations. You know what I am talking about. We often learn to grow into it after years of dealing with it, but especially younger girls often feel helpless and embarrassed about these things. Or women who live in cultures, where menstruation is even more considered as something “impure and dirty”. And this is the really sad status quo, fuelled by patriarchic structures, ignorance and the media, which often shapes a rather artificial image of beauty standards around women (and men too).
But, at the same time there is some things happening on the forefront of period-normalisation from bottom-up: Artists, activists, men & women step up to talk about their period or experiences around it in public or in their everyday life and encourage each other. And we all can contribute to make periods more publicly accepted and appreciated. We can contribute to a greater understanding of the beauty and magic that lies behind it and to tune into that. To feel good about exploring our human cycles and come to a greater understanding of ourselves. By asking ourselves why does it make us feel uncomfortable. By talking about that. And about periods in general. With each other. Within families. Within schools. In the media and in the public discourse. And/or wherever it feels “strange.”
So that girls on the verge of getting their period feel excited about it, rather than scared or weird.
So that there can be heroines on their period.
So that no woman feels like it’s something she should hide.
And so that no one suffers from the shaming around it.
To sum my thoughts up: Periods are beautiful.
Watch the short film PERIODE 28 here to see an experimental approach of showing that: https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/periode-28/
*Quote out of the activist Dominique Christina’s period poem: https://youtu.be/4vu2BsePvoI