Menstruation and the act of giving birth are equated with great powers. Women are likened to goddesses who ‘create’ life and carry it within them before blessing the world with this gift of life. Blah blah blah!
Can you imagine the sheer confusion a twelve-year old girl might face upon being told that this painful bleeding has now bestowed her with some goddess-like powers? What’s worse is that this new ‘power’ suddenly means that the rules of childhood no longer apply to this girl (who is clearly still a child) and demands that she must act in accordance with the way ladies (read ‘goddesses’) behave. To put it in a nutshell, the celebration around a girl getting her first period is a euphemized way of curbing her freedom.
Imagine growing up with this baggage. Every single time you get your period and particularly once you’re over the age of twenty-three, your mother/grandmother/aunts and other womenfolk in your family lament the non-existence of your children. They argue that having a uterus and a healthy menstrual cycle means you must have children and ‘settle down’ because it’s your duty to bear children and settle into a domesticated life. It’s incredible, the sense of righteousness that society has, in informing women about their ‘sacred duty’ simply because of a natural bodily occurrence.
Do teenaged boys dealing with the embarrassment of ‘wet dreams’ get bombarded with well meaning advice on being a father? Then why are women subjected to it?
I personally don’t find my uterus sacred. It’s strictly biological, and just because I have a uterus and get periods doesn’t mean I want children. I may or may not, but regardless, I would like it to be my choice instead of society’s expectations thrust upon me on this account. I don’t think I can ‘create’ life and I most certainly don’t feel like a goddess. It is quite open, common knowledge, that you need the fusion of sperm and an egg to create a baby. I will never understand how the male counterpart’s role in making babies is neatly ignored and the onus of babies is thrust entirely upon a woman’s shoulders.
This Goddess status is very dangerous. It gives external agencies such as family, friends, the society at large and in our country, even law-making and enforcing units, the right to tell women what is ‘right’ which then leads to the controlling of women and their actions.
It is very important to strip menstruation of this ridiculous god-status and accept it for what it is: a simple and natural bodily function. Let’s leave it at that. Let’s not read deeply into it and assign values, duties and roles to it.
Author: Medha Kulkarni
Medha lives in Mumbai and works as a curatorial assistant at an art gallery. She is also a freelance artist and culture reporter at The Metrognome ,an e-zine about Mumbai
Edited by: Divya Rosaline