Our pursuit to track down men who were interested in discussing menstruation was a long and tedious one, but we were able to find some non-menstruators who had a thing or two to say about the absence of men in the overall discourse about menstruation. The burden of menstrual equity has been shouldered by only half the population for too long, so we wanted to see what the other half of the world thought about that. Here are some responses we received when we asked men, “What do you know about periods? Why do you think men aren’t participating in the prevailing conversation about menstruation?
It’s All About Perspective
“I was first confronted with periods when a girl in school had a patch on her skirt. She started crying out of embarrassment but I thought she sat on a nail or something. I didn’t bother about it much, but I made it a point to check my chair for any sharp objects.
When I got back from school my mother asked me the usual question, ‘What happened at school?’ I felt it was important to tell her about the nail incident. She had a good laugh, but explained periods to me.
When I look at it now, it seemed as if no one understood periods. I’ve understood periods in bits through my life: As a young schoolboy, as a brother, as a boyfriend. I still need to understand it as a husband and as a father. You cannot understand something unless you’ve explained it in different perspectives. Unfortunately, things are not explained in perspectives. Usually, we form our opinions on one single perspective.”
A Little Awareness Never Hurt Anyone
“I know that it’s the release of an unfertilised egg from the woman’s body as blood from her vagina. It’s gruesomely painful and has its cycles – and that’s as much as I was told. Many myths, taboos, and misconceptions about menstruation has made it harder for women to overcome social inequity and for men to participate in the overall discussion. I think a little awareness can help all of us move forward. Awareness is ultimately what will bring men into the conversation.”
Science and Stigma
“I know it happens to women once a month; as their ovaries produce an egg every month, it will be discharged (along with mucus and blood) if it hasn’t been fertilised.
In groups of men, the conversation usually ends at a sarcastic, ‘Oh, she’s on her period,’ but nothing more than that. Nobody wants to know what’s actually happening during a period – neither the science nor the social implications a woman has to face. All of these conversations are avoided and never paid any attention to. Most men, I believe, find it unnecessary to talk about periods as they’re not the ones experiencing them or they feel like it doesn’t impact them in any way unless a woman they know (a sister, mother, partner) sits them down to talk about it. I think the lack of effective sex and health education is also a major factor that contributes to their silence and ignorance.”