Monthly periods: A symbol of women’s liberation

As we have just passed the world menstrual hygiene day, few painful spots of blood have appeared on my social media wall too.

As I read the posts made by women, there is one common theme. Monthly periods are a pain and a bane for every woman as they restrict her freedom.

As a well-trained (read married) man, I am normally not too inclined to disagree with women, but as someone deeply interested in the impact of biology on society, I hold a completely opposite view in this limited case that I would like to dare share here.

Strange though may it sound, from a biological perspective, monthly periods symbolise a new found freedom that women never had.

If there is anything really defining and differentiating our brave new woman from her historical counterparts, it is regular periods that visit her every month. And, here is the reason why.

If a modern woman is made to travel back in time by even a hundred years, she will suddenly discover something strange. She would be in a dream-world of almost no periods. Unfortunately, this period-less world of not-too-distant past was actually a nightmare that most females of our species were forced to live in.

Most women born a hundred years back or more lived a uniform life with very little presence of monthly periods.

The arrival of first periods in a girl child’s life was once treated as an end of her childhood. Shortly after her first periods, a woman would be married off to enter into a tough and often life-threatening cycle of child-bearing and child-nursing.

As she did not have periods during nine months of pregnancy or while breastfeeding for another year, periods would be few and far between breaks in her life as a child-bearing machine. As this cycle ended only at menopause, when periods too would vanish, a woman of past did not confront the monthly periods for the most part of her life.

Periods-every-month as modern women experience them today are fresh to arrive in human society. And they are here only because women have just escaped the child-bearing-machine existence and are now free to live and enjoy life beyond child-bearing-rearing for the first time in human history.

As a trade-off, we are confronted by a brand new social phenomenon of half of the humanity living under a state of high hormonal volatility for five-six days of each month, so we need to cognise it and find new ways of integrating it in our lifestyle.

We need to understand that we have not inherited any cultural or social provisions from the past that integrate these difficult days of every woman’s life with day to day life. So, periods require fresh thinking and fresh lifestyle changes to build a period-friendly society.

So, instead of lamenting about taboos and social stigma, let us accept that society is not at a fault for not being able to respond to the special needs of new age woman. The solution can be found only if we accept that it is a new problem that existing lifestyle has not considered.

If we widen the perspective further, the real problem is that humanity has changed rapidly in last hundred years, but biological needs of women are ignored completely while lifestyle changes are introduced at a rapid and massive scale.

We need to accept and accommodate female biology in the equation of life and introduce completely new sets of rules, especially in workplaces.

A three-day break during periods offered to women each month may not be a bad idea. Women have suffered silently till now, but as we know that it is hurting them, it is outright mean not to respond.

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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