Menstrual-Taboos: Logical or Illogical tolerance?

4 09 2014

Question on my mind is – If Men Could Menstruate, Would the taboos still exist?

– Feminist, Activist, Writer, Educator, Academician, Traveler.

Being an educator, I intentionally/unintentionally influencing a lot of young minds. If I have to present a topic of ‘Taboos’ I would like to give all the facts and say that it’s their personal choice whether to follow them or not. It concerns me to see in most cases, the youth today; started believing thing because they are emphasized by religion or are hammered in minds by parents and society. I believe my social responsibility is very high on these subjects; I therefor would only promote people and young once to have scientific insight on matters by asking “Why, How, For What….”. And make their own opinion on these matters.

One day, around when I was on vacations to cousins place I discovered this strong notion of girls sitting aside during their periods. After entering my cousin’s house, I noticed my cousin sister sitting alone in her room. I did not think much of it at first, but when she continued to stay in her room alone throughout the day’s ceremony, the subsequent meal, I was curious and inquired my mother about why my sister had not participated in the activities with the family for the entire afternoon and evening. “She’s on with her period”, my mom said, “and one according to our religion has to sit aside.” Mom could make out the discomfort and unlike towards it the system. The thought croped up – “Am I so dirty during my period that even God who has given me life of a women would want me to stay away?”

Years later, I being married into a traditional family faced the same dilemma. Could not digest the fact that young educated woman and men around me had that same orthodox belief, without questioning.

Hippocrates. They want to wear latest fashion; they talk about women’s empowerment; they talk about modern women power and role. They all want their wife’s to be reasonably logical, educated and worth presenting and one day make them proud fathers by giving birth to their child. On other hand treat women like untouchables because of a monthly biological process which is must for being fertile.

Periods are not unhealthy. What’s unhealthy is raising girls to believe that their body is a curse. Instead of feeling blessed about how periods mean that a woman’s body is ready to give the most beautiful gift in the world, the gift of life.

Sadly, many of the educated women who still contribute to the tabooing of menstruation and the process of shaming and embarrassing young girls on its account. We still do not take our ability to menstruate as a pride.

While being curious about the topic and being in a phase of research on the It, I was surprised to read that the rituals around menstruation have been the same across the globe, be it Native America, Europe, Africa, Australia or Asia. (Followed in past.)

Let’s talk logic now…let_s-break-the-vicious-circle-of-menstrual-tabboo1

I never found any original scripts talking about taboos, but they had something logical.

A woman’s body goes through 4 stages in one menstrual cycle, just as we go through 4 seasons in a year. (The information presented below is a combination of content I borrowed from different sources mentioned at the end of this blog.)

Week 1: Menstruation (Days 1-7) – Begins with the first day of bleeding (it should ideally be a new moon). Within hours of starting your period, your estrogen levels will slowly begin to rise and you will tend to feel a shift from the heaviness or ‘PMS’ of the days before. This is considered a process of cleansing and removal of all negative thoughts and emotions. Many women, including me, have noticed that on the first few days of our periods, we feel an urge to suddenly clean our homes and remove all the clutter from our closets- and our lives. Our natural biological cleansing is accompanied by a psychological cleansing as well. This is the time when women feel the need to go inward and be silent and contemplative.

 Week 2: Pre-Ovulation (Days 7-14) – This is the phase soon after the period when most women feel at their energetic best. The steady increase in estrogen boosts your brain’s serotonin levels, which leads to an increase in energy, enthusiasm and a more upbeat feeling overall. This phase is considered ideal to kick off new projects or creative work.

Week 3: Ovulation (Days 14 – 21) – This is the phase of Ovulation, where women are apparently more physically attractive than on other days, and are more attracted to others. This is the time in our cycle when we need to be connecting to people and relaxing in our outside world. It can also be a time of vulnerability, and it is important that we keep ourselves grounded and be mindful about our actions.

Week 4: Pre-menstruation (Days 21 – 28) – On the other side of ovulation, you’ll feel the effects of decreasing estrogen and testosterone and increasing progesterone. Progesterone is the ‘ebb’ to estrogen’s ‘flow’. It will increase your desire to move inward, like the waning moon. Research shows greater activity in the right hemisphere of the brain – the part associated with intuitive knowing – in weeks 3 and 4 of your cycle. Always trust your intuition. But pay especially close attention to it in the second half of your cycle!

The crankiness, impatience or annoyance so infamously called Premenstrual Syndrome that we may experience in the last two weeks of our cycle, is really more about the feelings you have because you are not flowing with what your body really wants you to do.

If we are as passionate about women empowerment as we say we are, then we need to open our eyes. We do still need to fight against prominent threats to women, such as rapes and infanticide, but we also need to realize that some of the biggest battles lie inside our own homes.

Thanks to number of sources and sits –




11 responses

4 09 2014
Navneet Gupta

Thought Provoking Article !!

8 09 2014

Thank you Navneet for reading it.

4 09 2014
Sagar Amlani

Hi Kinnu,

Well Said.

Would like to add up a few thoughts

a) There are few countries which do celebrate the first period of their girl child .
b) The Reason these So called Taboo were brought into practice in the past are:

1) Due the period the hormone levels are disturbed and as you also said this is the time she needs to do inwards, also have heard that it pains as well : So in old days (Past) just to safegaurd the “Bahu” it was termed as religious that she cannot touch in the house. So now if you see it the other way , BAHU will be officially on rest and can be relaxed during these days.

2) Sex : Now during the period as its painful already to the girl , having sex will only add to it. So in Old days if its by religion it will be followed hence “she should not be touched” . In other way she will not be asked by the Husband to have sex.

3) It is also said that during the cycle the body is in Cleansing process of the body so if you look it that way it very well relates to “cleanliness is next to godliness” so once the body is cleaned its more closer to God.

So as you rightly said the way these are followed and believed should be changed but as humans we only follow few things if they are imposed in the name of GOD as we are all god fearing in General and very few will accept it. Hence our ancestors thought to take support of Religion.

So still in villages there are BAHU’s who are torchered these taboo come to their rescue. Why only villages even in cities there are so many house where BAHU is still not treated same as the Daughter.

So each issue has two sides and we need to select which one suits our situation.

These are just my thoughts : Cannot impose them on anyone.

8 09 2014

Thanks for the comment sagar. The whole purpose of the write up is developing logical thinking and then giving things thought and not blindly following it on the name of religious taboos. Also I have mentioned about the hormonal part in first week. But being inward never means being isolated. Yes, I do agree with a part that it’s a resting excuse or comfort for bahu’s. But it’s again a take on the times today that are quiet different from then.

8 09 2014

Firstly, I didn’t know that women are really isolated when they are menstruating, so to be honest I am a bit shocked. Secondly, such practices or traditions should be rebelled against, with ferocity and as you have quite rightly conveyed this rebellion needs to begin at a “home-level” , so that the higher level of this change can be achieved.
In a country where we speak of the issue of women’s empowerment and women’s safety, I think we need to put a stop to all the talking and its due time we start acting. And rising up against such taboos could be the beginning. For all I know, if that ‘girl on her period’ is allowed to sit with people then I think this so called society can accept her walking alone at night (not that their acceptance matters) and then rest can follow for the blind eyed people we live with! So I guess if we have to start somewhere, we can start from here!

Thanks KK, this was truly and eyeopener and I too am a feminist and this is a clear reason why the country needs feminism.

8 09 2014

Soham you have always made me proud. I don’t say this just because u support my view but because we need youth to think like you. Change is bound to happen if we have even handful like you. “Thoughtful”. Thanks for writing you take on it.

8 09 2014

Very good article and very sensible one, people should understand the logic and i feel specially men would play a vital role in stopping traditional rituals which are going on without any logic. Good job by the writer to write on such a critical topic.

8 09 2014

Very nice article on one of the critical issue existing in our society, we all need to understand the logic behind these things and the logic is very nicely highlighted in the article by the author. I feel all women need to start tackling it very maturely and handle it in right way and stop this untouchability kind of attitude & men need to respect this and play a vital role in stopping this blind rituals.
Good job kinnari 👍

8 09 2014

Thanks for first reading this article and secondly supporting the thought of being logical. All that I needed out of this write up was people start thinking logically and not just blindly take what is legendary on name of religion.thanks!

16 09 2014

Very nicely written…appreciate your efforts to take out time and throw light on such issues as well…Keep posting such articles, its a food for thought 🙂

13 06 2016

Thank you Namrata. I believe we are the once who can change things.

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