By Katharina Kalus
On a night of board games, childish laughter and deep talks, a friend of mine kindly acknowledged that he imagined menstruation as the uterus tearing down carefully selected decorations for the upcoming event of raising a little wonder of a human being. He sounded sad to think about failed surprise parties and the uterus’s vain but time-consuming effort that goes unacknowledged. Indeed, the uterus does tidy up after a failed party, but nobody specifically asked for a celebration and there is no surprising effect, since the party gets thrown month after month. The uterus seems to be a possessive and annoyingly persistent organ which does not take no for an answer and keeps causing biologically female bodies pain and an overflow of confusing hormones.
Even though I was very glad to hear about my friend’s attempt to dive into the world of blood flows, his way of turning the menstruation cycle into an amusing story causes false assumptions of the opposite biological gender. It is not a saddening story of a uterus being misunderstood. It is a serious matter of a monthly, painful, emotionally draining, and physically tiring cycle that should not be underestimated.
Although not all human beings without a uterus think alike, some of them will probably dispute my claim that people with a menstruating body have to deal with certain disadvantages in life. Due to painful cramps and hormones that cause mood swings and unpredictable, emotionally driven ways of behaving or reacting, people call menstruating women moody bitches and other insulting terms. When they do, menstruating women are not being treated with respect.
A quick scroll through social media and statements like “periods aren’t that painful, pull yourselves together, women” or “my girlfriend forgot a tampon on my toilet – gross” of non-menstruating people are being presented. First of all, if a person does not have a uterus, they do not experience the actual pain of a period and, therefore, do not get to have a say in this at all. To keep it short: No uterus, no opinion. Everything else can only be claimed as pure exploitation of dominance. Secondly, to portray a tampon as gross indicates either the amount of ignorance or lack of knowledge some people embody regarding the topic of menstruation, its side effects, and hygiene products. I cannot fully blame said people for maintaining false assumptions since experiences and medical facts all around periods are not being talked about enough to replace them with the actual truth. Even in television commercials or internet advertisements for hygienic products, women on their period are portrayed as energetic human beings who want to conquer the world. The uncensored truth is, menstruating experiences are fairly individual and come in several variations. But if there is one thing menstruation does not accomplish, it is for menstruating human beings to feel the urge to conquer the world energetically. Instead, menstruation makes people want to dive into a warm bed and hide from all sorts of chores and tasks.
After all, to say it in my friend’s words, the uterus keeps up the good work of trying to make a home for a potential wonder of a new life, keeps hoping for a party, and continues to tear down all those carefully selected decorations after no baby takes up residence. However, I do hope that society will talk more openly about periods, blood flows, painful cramps, hygienic products, and all sorts of paraphernalia surrounding menstruation. Hopefully, this will help to raise awareness and educate those who know nothing about what it feels like dealing with a uterus, in order for menstruation to be understood as the natural phenomenon it actually is.