Three Different Experiences viewed from a Man’s Perspective
I do not have a lot of knowledge about women’s menstrual cycles but that in no way means that I have the license to start making my own judgment and rules about the same. Has a woman ever made a fuss about guys and their night falls and other not-so-appropriate issues I choose not to discuss on this platform? This is a health-related topic and I think we should just keep it simple. In fact, I would like to share three instances I experienced with my friends in different stages of our lives.
This first ever encounter was where I learnt about menstrual cycles and the way people looked at it when I was in the eighth standard in school. It was the second class after the lunch break (I use the word ‘class’ instead of ‘period’ in order to avoid confusion on a menstrual blog!) when suddenly our English teacher told all the students to bend our heads in a lying position so that no one could look up. A very strange order by the English teacher indeed, since she would always ask us to stand up and raise our hands. That is when I saw, from the corner of my eye, one of the girls walking out of the classroom, accompanied by her friend. The moment they exited the classroom, a lot of speculation about this strange incident began and the boys were naturally abuzz with curiosity. One of my friends told us that she probably had got her periods and started making a big issue out of it by even stooping as low as to point fingers at her character. Since I was brought up in a family with two elder sisters, I had a fair idea about this topic and didn’t think that anything was out of the ordinary. Naturally, I intervened and pointed out to my friends that up until yesterday, they were borrowing notes from her and all of a sudden, how could they start talking about her character that way? I then proceeded to explain whatever little I knew about the subject, highlighting the fact that it was an absolutely normal occurrence and was in no way related to the girl’s character or the lack thereof. I’m not entirely sure, but I think I managed to convince them to a large extent.
Girls in India and even in cities face very strong reactions when they enter puberty and the only support they get is from their mothers who strictly instruct them to not discuss this topic openly with others. Your physical manifestation of a Laxmi goddess is entering a new phase in her life and instead of welcoming this change and making her feel precious, you condemn her?
The second encounter I want to share with you was when I entered college.I went for a movie with a lady-friend for Batman Begins (2005) and was imaginably very excited. During the intermission, I noticed that she stopped munching on her popcorn (not that I was complaining!) but she even started to look a little uneasy. She then excused herself to use the washroom and took a long time to return, long after the intermission was over. I was outside all this while and when she returned, I asked her why she took so much time in the washroom. My friend responded by saying that she had a ‘girl problem’ and upon hearing that term, I asked her why she didn’t simply call it ‘menstruation’. She was shocked on hearing me speak thus, since we were not very close friends and looked thoroughly embarrassed as well, but after I told her that it was a commonplace issue and was honestly not a big deal, she admitted on not having any pads with her. I know this sounds selfish, but I asked her if I could go purchase pads for her so that we could continue watching the movie after that. This came as a shock to her, since someone who was not her mother, brother, or girl-friend was actually talking about getting pads for her! But I suppose she had no choice and for the first ever time in my life, I went to a medical shop and naturally had no idea what to pick up thanks to the various brands,shapes and sizes available. I finally settled on one that was frequently advertised on television, took it to my friend and ended up watching the rest of the movie with her.
However I now wonder why a girl above the age of eighteen has to hesitate to talk about her periods to her friend ( at least one as harmless as I am ) and I always wonder if it was a big deal that I actually went and bought a pad for her. What if I hadn’t communicated with her and she was left sitting in the restroom for the next one hour? Girls should be open about this so-called ‘girl problem’ and education about this topic should be given to both boys and girls during their primary schooling days.
My third and final experience was actually just an incident which my wife told me about six months ago. Now my wife is a social activist and a member of an international NGO, so once when she was participating in a trail-walker event (a kind of marathon hosted in jungles for fundraising) she found that she got her periods in the middle of it, and lo and behold, she didn’t carry her pads with her as usual. Thankfully, she didn’t panic at that moment and asked fellow male and female participants where she could obtain a pad from. While many of the men were left looking and feeling quite awkward, she managed to get a pad from a female participant and having used that, also finished the 100 kilometer event! I was really proud of her on hearing about her composed behavior in the face of such a situation and commended her for it.
So ladies, I am a guy and I urge you to please not shy away from discussing your menstrual occurrences with anyone and for asking for help in any situation. We guys are probably a little poor in terms of actually understanding women’s emotions without being explicitly told about it but we are grateful when our lady friends actually discuss these things openly with us. As a word of precaution, please carry at least one pad in your purse whenever it is possible – I’m sure those big handbags have room for one!
Sumit describes himself as an explorer, communicator, food geek and a general reader. He is currently based in Mumbai and works with an Internet Service Provider as a Planning & Product Manager. He blogs here.