Most men are interested in the female body, especially when it comes to sexuality. But what is mostly undercovered in human interests, perhaps even in education, is menstruation. Yes, you read that right: The process in a woman’s body of discharging blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus at intervals of about one lunar month from puberty until menopause, except during pregnancy. Menstruation is an inevitable and very natural monthly “process”. Even in 2019, there is still a taboo on mentioning it or talking about it.
A little while ago I decided to learn more about the female body. The reason for that is simple: I started living together with the person that I can now call my wife. Menstruation is a process that she has to go through every month, and I truly care about her. So learning more about the vulva and the vagina made sense to me. So when I saw a Dutch ebook about vaginas and vulvas precnancy and birth control, I decided to buy it.
I wasn’t sure how much of it I would actually read. Maybe it would just turn into a symbolic purchase to show that I intended to read it. But in all honesty: it was a really interesting book. It was enlightening to learn about something that is not widely discussed in modern society, without having to ask my wife.
Most of the time I read ebooks while commuting from and to work. In a giant city like Seoul, that is by subway in my case. And I must say: it felt a little awkward when images of a vagina were displayed on a page. Not that it makes me feel comfortable to look at a vajayjay. But what would people think if they see looking at these pictures? Especially in South Korea, where watching pornography is prohibited and people still have an “old-fashioned” mindset, according to the standards I know. I don’t say that everyone around me would look at my screen while I’m reading. I don’t make it that obvious that I read it. But in a packed subway during rush hour, there are chances that when people don’t look at their own phone or close their eyes, there is a chance that what’s on my screen would attract their attention.
In this modern society, when we see a man watching images of a vagina, most people will not think: ‘that man is educating himself.’ People would think of him as a naughty guy or even a pervert. But just because it’s not a part of your body doesn’t mean you cannot be interested in learning more about it. I decided not to care. In fact, I really think we should not hide the things we are learning. Only that way we can break the taboo. Having those thoughts while reading the book really helped me not to give a damn about what people would think. And that’s also when the idea of writing this blog post was born.
Vulva or vagina?
What exactly is the difference between Vulva and Vagina? The vagina is actually only the parturient birth canal, and the vulva is the part that you can see from the outside. A lot of people – both men and women – seem to confuse those terms.
Would that be because we don’t talk enough about it? That’s actually hard to tell, but by talking more openly about these topics, we can make it more acceptable. How many times do you hear people talk about private parts? Personally, quite a lot. And of course, not everyone has to know what’s going on in between your legs and inside
The book I read describes how people thought about menstruation in the past. Women even had to sleep outside while on their period. Otherwise, they could put other people in danger. Trees could die when a menstruating woman would touch it. And even people we consider intellectual people (like Plato or Aristotle) had some weird opinions about it.
Every time I see a commercial on TV that promotes tampons, pantyliners or menstruation pads, I get the impression that nothing has changed at all: menstruation is dirty and makes a woman disgusting. The fact that menstruation products are packed with scents and they use this blue-ish colored liquid to showcase how well it absorbs doesn’t help either. Women on their period should hide it and no one should ever find out. With all that in mind, I can imagine that women are ashamed to talk about their period. Not only with their husband, but even with other women.
In the Netherlands, when women are moody or grumpy, a lot of times I heard people say: ‘Ah, you must be on your period.’ When people say things like that, it’s really disrespectful to a woman. She might be suffering from severe cramps and is dealing with a mess in her panty. She feels uncomfortable. So the worst thing you can say is something so unsupportive as stated above. It’s time we break this taboo.
Governments and schools can help. Some schools teach teenagers how to put on a condom to avoid pregnancy, but in general, it’s not much more than that. Menstruation is also not discussed in depth, if it is discussed at all, as far as I recall my biology classes. Some schools don’t talk about pregnancy prevention because they are religious schools and their religion does not allow to use birth control. In my humble opinion, religion and state should be separated completely so that we can make sure that things like birth control and menstruation are taught to everyone in schools. Children will learn that menstruation is a normal
Governments and schools still have a long way to go. Luckily, every single one of us can do something about it without waiting for change. We can be the change! Educate yourself. Teach your kids. Buy books if necessary, to make sure they can learn without having to talk to you. Share knowledge with your friends. Talk about it with your partner. Create hashtags. As long as we take small steps to make it more acceptable to speak about menstruation, the change will eventually come. Maybe even sooner than we hope for.
Everything written in this post is merely my own