Unravel the Period Taboo, from a Young Age
At what age we should start teaching menstruation to our kids? There is a way to teach our kids—both girls and boys—about menstruation before the age it happens to help them better understand the process and reverse the stigma surrounding the subject. We need a multi-faceted approach to dispel period myths and end the secrecy associated with this healthy female bodily process in cultures around the world.
By the time menstruation is taught to our children, many of them have already internalized stigmas surrounding the subject. These attitudes could have been influenced by families, peers, or educators throughout their young lives. Menstruation is simply not taught early enough to our children. There is a way to teach our kids—both girls and boys—about menstruation before the age it happens to help them better understand the process and reverse the stigma surrounding the subject.
We need a multi-faceted approach to dispel period myths and end the secrecy associated with this healthy female bodily process in cultures around the world.
Here’s how we can begin to unravel that stigma starting with the next generation of children—and also by honouring these practices in our own lives.
Cultivate Understanding of the Reproductive System
Young girls are taught they have to manage their periods in secret.
If someone were to know they were menstruating, or, even worse, see blood, they would feel shame. Whether this shame comes from an outside party or within themselves, the period taboo affects how women feel about menstruation, their bodies, their sexuality, and even their reproductive system.
Women often don’t understand how central role menstruation plays in the health of their bodies. Women and men would benefit from understanding their menstrual cycle and how it’s actually an indicator of health.
Cultivating an understanding of their cycle can help women better care for themselves and be more comfortable in their bodies. Menstruation is a biological process, not a mystery that’s to be feared or hidden. By better educating our young people at earlier ages, we can not only cultivate a better understanding of sexual health and the reproductive system, but also encourage these people to make better choices as they grow into young adults.
Dispel Myths Whenever Possible
To fully address and disperse a myth, one must first recognize it as a myth. Recognizing misinformation in our modern society is easier said than done. When knowledge has been passed down among generations, it’s difficult to refute this information even if it’s not true.
Even among many modern women, periods are taboo. This type of thinking has been handed down from woman to woman for centuries. While men certainly play a role in perpetuating this culture of secrecy, it’s up to all of us to stop it.
It can take generations to change this type of thinking, but sometimes, all it takes is one person to influence a world of people. You can be that person.
Dispelling harmful and untrue myths surrounding menstruation begins with education and talking openly about periods. Girls need to understand what’s happening in their bodies. Boys need to understand what it is and why they should not treat women differently because of it.
It’s up to each and every one of us to intervene, to challenge myths and beliefs about menstruation that are damaging and false, even if kids are older. The time to make a difference is now.
Promote a Safe Space for Learning
The significance of giving boys and girls a safe space to discuss menstruation cannot be understated.
Each of us, even if we aren’t educators, can create a safe space for girls, women, men, and boys who want to learn. Let us each play a role in rectifying gender inequality. Let us each do our part to rise against the stigma. Let us allow questions to be asked, and let each of us work to answer those questions.
No question is stupid. We need to take all inquiries seriously and promote discussion among boys and girls alike so that everyone has the opportunity to fully understand menstruation and the impact it has on the lives of our mothers, daughters, and wives.
In this way, we begin undoing that which has suppressed women for ages.
Stop Social Stigmas by Speaking Openly
The social risk for publicly acknowledging periods is high, which is why many women go to great lengths to hide their period.
Unfortunately, this secrecy goes so far that many women don’t even inform their daughters about their period before it happens. Despite not wanting their daughters to go through the same experience they went through when getting their first period, many women feel too embarrassed to talk about their period, even with their own family. They simply don’t know how to talk about it and feel great shame surrounding the subject.
As a result, a woman’s first period is often a frightening, confusing experience that generates shock, horror, and fear when really, the body is doing what it has done for aeons and represents a healthy, natural process.
Talking openly about periods is an essential first step to stopping the discrimination that comes from thinking a woman’s body is diseased or offensive when menstruating.
The challenge of addressing these socio-cultural taboos and beliefs is impacted by women who don’t have an understanding of puberty, menstruation, and reproductive health. These women have been quiet and ashamed for generations. This line of thinking sets females up to be closed off to men who would otherwise be open to the subject.
As a result, men are often afraid of bringing up periods for fear of being considered inappropriate. In some households, men are quickly shut down by women when expressing a desire to discuss menstruation.
The consequences of this closed-mindedness are huge. It prevents people from fully understanding menstruation, which only serves to perpetuate myths about the subject. Girls aren’t prepared to manage their period without discomfort and embarrassment each month. Some women will even die as a result of period taboo. But you have the power to change this.
What’s at Stake
Health, education, and dignity are at stake when it comes to ending the stigma about menstruation and empowering our young women to be confident and proud of their healthy bodies.
When we enable females across all cultures to better care for themselves and love themselves, the world benefits. Educated women are more likely to be healthy, to have a positive impact on our world, and to be successful in life.
Working to unravel the period taboo won’t be easy, but by beginning at a younger age, we can encourage future generations to honour and respect women and menstruation.