So Andres walked into the bathroom while I was having a shower and I had a panic attack because I had left my used pad lying around (not that Andres could care less, God bless him). And it made me realise how embarrassed and ashamed I am of something that I really shouldn’t be. But also made me think about how growing up I had always associated having my period as something that I need to keep private and almost up its existence.
In school we skipped the whole section on reproduction and instead had a presentation on puberty which lacked any sort of real information about puberty and the presenters awkwardly danced around the subject of periods which just made all the boys laugh and all the girls cringe with embarrassment.
At home, I would make sure no one ever caught a whiff of my bloody state – no pads lying around, no stains and definitely no mention of it. I remember once I needed to buy a pack of pads but I didn’t want to tell my dad and I kept asking him to take me to the shops so that I could get chocolates and he kept refusing and I got told off for being silly but even then not a peep about the period – I just waited all day till my mum came home.
I don’t think it’s just me though. I mean look at the commercials for pads – why is the liquid blue?
Remember when that Indian artist took a photo of herself lying on her bed with period stains on the sheet and her pants and the internet went wild calling her disgusting? We are programmed to hide and be ashamed this very natural bodily function because what ?! Because it would perhaps upset the male population?
Judging by Andres reaction, I don’t think Real men are phased by periods and neither should we. I’m all about hygiene don’t get me wrong but how about we don’t get awkward about talking about our flows!
Just a thought
Every time she wanted to buy something she would have to ask him. It didn’t matter if she was using her own money or whether what she bought was for her own use – she had to ask. If she wanted to eat something, she had to make sure that was alright with him. Tip of the iceberg.
So he never told her outright that she had to ask – that was never an agreement that they both made when they got into a relationship. In fact over the many years they have been together, he had never once told her that she had to have his okay. But for some reason, this was how they worked. She would want something and she would check with him before making the decision.
What happens when he says no, you ask? Good question. Then she would nod her head and say something along the lines of”yep, you know what you are so right, what do you think I should do instead baby?” and so the cogs of their relationship keeps ticking.
What happens if she goes ahead and does what she wants anyway? Well, he will bring it up in casual conversation- about how she whines a lot, how she is so fat and in general how she is a disappointing human being.
There are days when she wants to get away from this. This isn’t what life is about, she tells herself but then she doesn’t have the confidence to get up and step out of the door. She doesn’t believe in herself – she doesn’t think she is strong enough. Has he cut off her wings?
I hope she realises how amazing she is.
He said, “but baby all the sexy girls have six packs…”
He said, “Man look at that GIRL, babe, now THAT’S the kind of body a girl should have”
He said, “Babe are you SURE you want to eat that chocolate cake?”
He said,”no no babe you are cute, I just meant that you aren’t you know model HOT but you are cute”
He said,”aww…look at the flab under your arms – chicken wings!”
The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all hear hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes
C. Joybell C
I recently started working in an organisation that works to empower women in vulnerable situations by providing them with training and work opportunities. Although there are days I find myself tired and stressed out I absolutely LOVE working there and I am constantly in awe of the women I work with.
Some of these women have had to give up their lives as high-flying professionals and move to a country where their inability to speak in English has left them unemployed and in a state of both financial and emotional dependency. Some of them have faced brutal violence and have been left out on the streets with nothing except the clothes that they are wearing at the time. Others have faced the harsh and disgusting reality of being in detention centers for months (some years) before they can settle in a country where they are treated as the “other” (or “aliens” as some governments like to label them”).
Regardless of their circumstances, these women have boundless resilience and the motivation to not only dream big but do everything in their power to achieve every single one of those dreams. They don’t like to be shackled by their past or even their current circumstances, they don’t dwell on how life has dealt them an unfair hand of cards and they are so full of enthusiasm to learn new things.
I remember having a conversation with one of the women about her journey to being financially independent and she said to me ‘at my first market I sold something for 50 cents…I was SO happy someone actually gave money for something I made! So I went home and made six more items to sell!’ (See what I mean about enthusiasm). On most occasions they would travel for two hours on public transport, to sit at a market for 6 hours only to sell maybe $25 and instead of being grumpy they usually have the biggest smiles and say “better than 0!” These women, who used to be lecturers, journalists, engineers, will talk about how they are so happy they have their current job as a cleaner because a steady income would help them save money to send their kids to school (you rarely hear complaints even on days when their backs are aching from the 10 hours of cleaning they do per day).
Working with these women and hearing their journeys have opened my eyes to how lucky and privileged I am to have the life I do. Everyday I am in awe of these women and how they have managed to turn their lives around on their own. Since I have met them I have gained a greater sense of awareness about true resilience and perseverance.
They are true defenders of the silver lining.
Today, I was talking to a two of my girlfriends and the topic of consent came up – in this particular instance one of my friend’s was talking about how she had to explain to a colleague that just because a girl flirts with a guy doesn’t mean she has to have sex with him, even after she says yes she can change her mind and that is COMPLETELY her right – her choice to do so. As this conversation went on, it reminded of something else I had heard a long time ago.
She told me that he was her EVERYTHING and that she would have done ANYTHING to make him happy. Sounds a little over the top? Well I guess, she was fifteen and he was the first boy she had ever ‘loved’. But he was not a good boy.
He visited her in hospital one time (she was admitted there because she had a horrible reaction to some medication). She- was so happy that he had actually made the effort to come see her, he – was happy that they finally were in a room unsupervised. “I think this is a good time to have sex” he suggested. She didn’t know how to react (I am sick and I have tubes stuck on my arms – how is this a good time!) But she thought if she didn’t say yes he would break up with her so she just smiled at him. As soon as it started, she wanted it to stop. She didn’t want to do this. He was hurting her, the tubes of saline injected to her writs were hurting her, she was bleeding – she wanted him to stop. She tried to push him off, she told him no, she started crying but he didn’t seem to notice. Once he was done he got off her, threw the used condom on to her bed and told her to stop crying “you said okay, you don;t have the right to change your mind.” Then he walked off. She gathered all her strength to get up, roll her saline cart to the bathroom so that she can clean up the blood and other stains off her, get rid of the condom, change the sheets and resume life like nothing ever happened.
Scarred at such a young age.
She used to turn up to work every day. During her two years of being employed she has never taken a day off, ever. But she is always tired and sick to the extent where she doesn’t actually do any work and gets reprimanded by everyone around her. “You are letting the team down,” they say, “she is such a LAZY woman,” some grumble. One day she was so sick that she had to be taken to the hospital by some of the people at work. That was the day everyone realised just how helpless she truly was.
Over the past year she had undergone two abortions (at least). But, it wasn’t her choice. It wasn’t safe. Her husband didn’t like to use condoms because he thought it made him less of a man. So when she did become pregnant, his way of ‘taking care of it’ was to accompany her to his friends garage. At this garage, his friend proceeded to use bicycle spokes and pliers to ‘remove’ the fetus from her womb. The (actual) doctor found bits that were left behind after this ‘surgery’ which had festered inside her causing her to be severely sick. Things could have been a little better if she had been treated earlier (or if she was able to opt for an actual safe abortion but that’s a different story altogether) but her husband told her to quit whining and get to work. She was helpless.
This is not about being pro choice or pro life. It’s about education. Its about advocacy. Its about being pro woman. How many women are out there, who like her are helpless.
This is a fantastic and insightful post