Trigger warning: image of Lindy West with candy
The topic of menstruation is one that always makes me giggly because A) I’m an immature dick; and B) it’s a giant Achilles Heel that feminists disclaim and proclaim all at the same time.
Aunt Flo is back in the news recently, thanks to this t-shirt from American Apparel, which combines the charms of monthly carnage with self-pleasure, achieving new heights in crass and inappropriate sharing. It’s up there with t-shirts that depict vomiting or defecating or urinating. Yeah, yeah, they’re all perfectly natural. They’re also private, and I don’t particularly care to be visually assaulted with evidence of your brute humanity.
The purpose of clothing in the first place is to allow us to have some dignity in the face of our natural, biological functions.
For some reason, celebrating the more malodorous aspects of being human is something feminists have glommed on to, interpreting any desire on the part of women to perhaps keep private functions private as an attack on women themselves. It’s misogyny!
Remember this article, wherein farting in the presence of others was proclaimed an act of liberation? Nothing says equality like letting one rip after last night’s borscht in a crowded elevator!
Or how about this, wherein pooping at the office becomes a battle cry in the war for equality!
Poop anxiety is still a very real problem, particularly among the ladies (WHICH IS SEXIST), so I suppose it’s only natural that we cannot stop obsessing over it.
Men, as you know, feel absolutely free to unleash the stink wherever and whenever they like. It’s only women who are held to some ridiculous standard about not assaulting bystanders with the stench of their digestive tracts.
Menstruation falls into the same category as these other acts of animalism, but it comes with a slight twist: the monthly hormonal fluctuations make some ladies completely crazed and irrational. When Russian lawmakers proposed that women be given time off work during their periods, most people scoffed at the suggestion. Take a fucking Advil and get on with it.
But plenty of other ladies thought it was an excellent suggestion, and in doing so, tripped and fell into a little quagmire that it’s difficult to argue your way out of.
“I’d actually prefer two days off the week before, when I want to strangle people,” says Danyale, who, as a licensed psychologist in California, probably shouldn’t go around saying she wants to strangle people.
…of the nearly two dozen women I polled, 10 of them said they’d take the days immediately, no questions asked.
It’s not like the women didn’t SEE the problem, they just don’t know what to do about it:
“It would have to be two paid days off for everyone or it would be open to gender- and age-discrimination charges in a heartbeat. I also don’t want to add any weight toward the argument that women on their periods are crazy and untrustworthy.” That’s a good point. We’re just as crazy and untrustworthy the rest of the month, too.
In the end, we all agreed that cramps or PMS can make it hard to work.
“I would be offended and I would take it,” says Susan, a law clerk in Ontario. “Because it’s two days off.”
In Korea, women get paid leave when Lady MacBeth arrives with her gown soaked in blood. No biggie, right?
According to today’s Korea Times, 1,400 women working in financial fields in South Korea have filed lawsuits against their employers demanding that they get paid for the days they take off for menstruation. These workers are joining the ranks of 3,700 more women at 10 other financial institutions, according to the Korea Times, who submitted a similar suit last month.
I must admit to not being well-versed in the technicalities of “menstruation leave” (hell, we Americans consider ourselves lucky when we get paid time off for giving birth), but some quick research indicates that prior to a 2004 revision of the country’s labor law, women were entitled to one paid day of “menstruation leave” per month. Now they’re apparently still entitled to time off, but won’t necessarily be paid for it.
Unless, of course, they work for Citibank Korea, a unit of the American company. Citibank Korea decided last month to start paying women for menstruation leave — a move that has resulted in the current slew of lawsuits filed against the country’s less womb-attuned employers.
Oh dear. Looks like women are backing themselves into a corner here. Is it just physical pain that makes menstruating hard, or is there more to it?
Let’s look at Jezebel for some awareness and illumination. Those are some ladies who know ladies, amirite?
Dude. I have the worst periods EVER. I can’t emphasize what an insufferable bitch I am and I hate admitting it because it’s so cliche. But basically I threaten to leave my husband a few days before my period, like clockwork. We are a sweet and loving couple the other 22 days of my cycle but I get weepy, irrationally upset about the tiniest things, and threw a box of macaroni everywhere yesterday. Is there anyone else that has this issue? I feel like pms shouldn’t be this terrible. I had a kid, iud, and then another kid all in a close four year span so maybe my body isn’t used to regularly having a normal period. I dunno… 12/10/12 2:08pm
SAME. I love my husband more than anything, but it is not uncommon for me to be like “WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID SHUT UP I HATE YOU” to him during my period. And then I apologize profusely for being a raging hormonal terror and thank my lucky stars he is so patient and amazing. 12/10/12 2:12pm
You’re not alone. I turn into Hell Queen for a few days. Worst thing is I can see myself doing it but cannot stop. 12/10/12 2:24pm
Word. My husband texted me last night to say, “Can you pick up milk on your way back from the library?” I entered, “Fuck you” into my phone and thought, “Well that is a completely irrational and silly response” and proceeded to send it anyway. 12/10/12 2:30pm
I almost murdered my boyfriend because he didn’t do the dishes while I was at work, which then deteriorated into me alternately crying and screaming and being like “You don’t care about my apartment!!!!!!” Then I threw a pillow-which must be why they are called throw pillows. Bada ching.
Anyway, I feel you. 12/10/12 3:02pm
I get the same way. It fucking sucks and I hate it. My periods are THE WORST because of fibroids and I just completley lose my shit at least once every month. God forbid I have something even mildly stressful going on when I start my pee-rod cuz my Gawd I turn into a weeping, raging freak. The only thing that helps at all is going to the gym and wearing myself out for an hour or so on the treadmill. Eating fried food in my car while listning to death metal REALLY LOUDLY and crying helps some, too, but there is much less self loathing going the gym route. Good luck, and I’m right there with you in spirit! 12/10/12 3:13pm
OMGITOTALLYATEFRIEDCHICKENLAST NIGHT *deep breath* We’re kindred spirits. I scare myself. It’s just so terrifying how much of a crazy person I become. 12/10/12 3:25pm
oh, yeah. me too. i can feel the fury bubbling up and it just feels totally out of my hands.
on the plus side, it’s made me a bit more sympathetic to toddlers throwing fits. that whole you-know-what-you’re-doing-but-how-do-you-stop thing. i imagine that’s what the 2 year old i’m babysitting for feels like and it makes me a lot more patient! 12/10/12 3:38pm
Yes, exactly. It doesn’t happen often but a couple times a year my PMS hits way harder than normal and I get really intensely emotional about everything. I hate everyone and everything bothers me and I don’t want to see anyone or talk about anything. Ever. Super irrational, too. 12/10/12 4:31pm
That’s ONE comment thread, and that isn’t even ALL the responses.
Raging Hormonal Terror
And Twitter doesn’t want one of you bitches on their Board of Directors? Gosh. Why ever not? They must just hate women, huh?
Menstruation is one of those topics in a long line of topics that makes absolutely no sense. When men suggest that perhaps women are prone to small fits of irrationality and craziness, they are accused of MISOGYNY SEXISM HATRED GASLIGHTING MANSPLAINING, and yet….
This article is from Jezebel. The exact same website that has literally hundreds of comments explaining that women on their periods are irrational, violent, weeping bags of crazy every 27 days like clockwork!
Seriously, ladies, I think you’re gonna have to pick a side here. Either women are predictably and uncontrollably prone to monthly hormonal fluctuations that can have a dramatic effect on their moods, or they are not. I’m not asking anyone to pick the observable truth here, but jeez louise, pick ONE!
Lindy West takes a stab at trying to have her cake and eat it too, and judging from Lindy’s proportions, she manages to eat a lot of cake! But even the master of hypocrisy fails miserably.
As a feminist, period-haver, and combination bitchy loud-mouth/soft-hearted doormat, I have a complicated relationship with PMS. On the one hand, fuuuuuuuck PMS! The idea that my moods, which arise from my incredibly complex, stressful, dynamic life, can be reduced to some hormonal flux at the whim of my reproductive system is deeply insulting. It’s a notion whose only point is to delegitimize women’s actual complaints and reduce us, yet again, to our stupid, stupid genitals. It’s a silencing tactic.
So the fact that moods arise from hormonal fluctuations is insulting and therefore should be ignored. How Lindy feels is all that counts. She feels insulted, so end of story?
Because there are days when I wake up pissed-off, when everything is shit, when I cry because my boyfriend loaded the dishwasher “wrong” (really, self?) or I spilled lasagna on my sports bra (who cares???) or because of that fucking BRUTAL Google Chrome commercial (seriously, though) — and I’m like, AM I AN ACTUAL CRAZY PERSON? What is the deal with me!? And then, just when I’m about to start crying about being a crying crazy person who cries about lasagna and advertising…oh, yeah…menses!!!
The topic lends itself to a serious question: let’s take Twitter as an example. What kinds of decisions are to be expected from the women who might theoretically sit on the board at Twitter? And what are we supposed to do about that? Not schedule any important decisions when the Crimson Tide is swelling? Have all the men install menstrual tracker apps so they know when rational conversations are likely to be possible?
Obviously, not all women turn into raging maniacs when they get their periods, but most women do in fact report some monthly symptoms of PMS, including:
Changes in sexual desire
Well boy howdy, let’s get those women into positions of leadership and responsibility!
What can possibly go wrong?
You know, maybe those t-shirts aren’t such a bad idea after all. Maybe all the menstruating ladies should wear them when it’s time for the monthly blood bath. At least then, you would know to steer well clear and understand that there really is a wrong way to load a dishwasher, and there will be tears and possibly violence if you fail to do it correctly.
The upside is that eventually menstruation ends.
And then menopause begins!
Let’s hope Hilary is finished with her hot flashes and unanticipated bleed outs before she takes office, or we might learn just how crazy crazy can get!
Lots of love,