I think I finally understood the secret order of friendship between women (similar to The Bro Code, just less toxic and more accepting) when I fully memorised the communal rules of menstruation. Now, they’re ingrained in my mind and I follow them without question. This is the Period Code for those of you who are yet to familiarise yourselves with the universal decrees of the menstrual cycle.
Rule 1 – Sharing period products is caring.
We’ve all been there, frantically searching through our purses or backpacks for a pad, tampon, or leftover tissue from last night’s take-out… Just anything to tide us over for a few hours of our flow. In that moment, there is nothing that offers more relief than a helping hand holding a sanitary product. Always come to the rescue if a menstruator – stranger, BFF, or sworn-enemy – is looking for an extra pad. It’s just the right thing to do.
Rule 2 – If you see something, say something.
Haven’t you ever been asked to check the back of your friends’ pants for stains as they “nonchalantly” walked in front of you? The embarrassment and shame associated with period stains are unfortunate but unavoidable facts of menstruation. Therefore, it’s only right to tell a fellow menstruator if you peek a blood spot on their clothes. Extra points if you help them clean up and comfort them should they stress out.
Rule 3 – Support your sisters, not just your cis-ters.
Periods aren’t limited to cis gender folk. Trans men may experience menstrual cycles as well, so it’s important to be inclusive of all menstruators. In addition to that, it’s imperative to remember that not all women have a monthly period – but that doesn’t invalidate their identities as women either.
Rule 4 – Don’t be vain, clean the stain.
When using a public washroom, many menstruators believe in the ideology that washroom attendants are paid to clean up after the mess they make. This is just plain derogatory and offensive. If you leave a stain or make a mess, do your best to clean up after yourself: Wrap your used period product up, throw it in the designated bin, and leave the space as you would hope to find it. In the worst case scenario, don’t be afraid to ask for some help.
Rule 5 – Taboos are meant to be broken.
There’s nothing like a menstruator who is confident in their own body. Internalised sexism is a problematic facet of many women’s characters, but it doesn’t have to be the way forward. The women before you may have believed in and propagated age-old traditions, but you have the power to smash the taboo; touch the pickle, wear white, pray, and do whatever the hell else you want to do. You can bleed for a week straight without dying, so what’s stopping you? (Except the cramps, of course.)