14 April 2016, The Tablet

Shedding blood for the life of humanity is just what women do


Three out of four brands of tampon, according to a recent piece in The New York Times, are designed by men.It is also largely men, no doubt, who then levy a tax on these tampons, as though they were cakes, biscuits, hot pasties, or similar inessential items we purchase for pleasure.

Such things have become more questionable since the appearance of social movement to reclaim menstruation as a beautiful and honourable aspect of female experience: the “Free Bleeding Protest” aims to take menstruation out of the tax bracket and out of the realm of taboo. Some are even campaigning for women to have “menstrual leave”.

Like these protesters, I find it odd that something which intrudes so regularly and often painfully in the lives of women should be so little discussed. Exactly once a month my body, and the bodies of many women around me, is afflicted with pain and loses large quantities of blood for several days, but neither I nor anyone around me acknowledges it publicly when it happens. If any other event caused me or anyone that amount of pain, disruption and blood loss, it would feature largely in our social interactions.

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User Comments (1)

Comment by: Men & Menstruation
Posted: 25/04/2016 17:20:07

Men should remember that they only exist because they had mothers who bled every month. And if they want to reproduce, they need a wife who bleeds too.

My mother, aunts and older sisters called menstruation The Curse,' as if Eve's sin was still being visited on us women in the 20th Century.
One aspect of menstruation that is not talked about is the fact that one of the main reasons why girls in Africa drop out of school, is simply a lack of sanitary protection. With nothing but rags or dry grass, they do not have the confidence to go to school, and so girls fall even further behind in education, and employment and income.
Providing sanitary towels can do more for female education than buying books.

Good for Carnody Grey for raising this taboo subject, and in such a sensitive theological way too.