The first time I got my period was in sixth grade. I was watching “Victorious” at home, without any realization that Mother Nature was ruining my favorite pair of beige capris. I wouldn’t have noticed had my Mom not stared at me with widened eyes and said, “Welcome to womanhood.”
But, my period doesn’t symbolize my womanhood. Guys ask if I’m on my period when I sound the slightest bit moody, but cringe when I mention it. I can’t talk about a natural cycle that implies I’m functioning healthily, but men can casually bring it up to explain why I’m scolding them. Consider a groundbreaking concept: maybe I’m not actually irritated because of the blood coming out of my vagina!
I could give countless rational explanations for my agitation: ABC postponed the season six premiere of “Scandal” to broadcast “The Trumps Go to Washington” instead; Trump has gone to Washington—the list goes on.
That doesn’t mean only men are at fault for period taboo. Girls—let’s, dare I say—go with the flow. My friends and I still create weird code names for our menstrual cycles, as if the boys around us will catch a disease knowing that Aunt Flo has paid a visit. Instead, let’s carry those pads shamelessly and call our periods for what they are: periods.
Normalizing the topic of menstruation would erase the rushing red Niagara Falls people envision in the grand scheme of womanhood. After all, when women have accomplished so much, it’s evident menstruation doesn’t hinder a woman’s ability to invoke change.
Nor are periods necessary for womanhood: trans women, gender nonconforming people and females in menopause or with absent menstruation possess the beautiful traits that make up womanhood, too. Being a woman doesn’t equate to a person with a period. Rather, living female is a cycle consisting of two stages: slay and repeat.
Instead of reducing womanhood to particular body parts and cycles, I perceive my womanhood as the persistence I have when I get out of bed despite painful cramps, the humor I retain when taking on too much and the confidence I wear as part of a global sisterhood, in which respect for each woman’s own identity is key.