I will be the first to admit how much I hate periods. As a teenager I didn’t think I could hate them more after the endless parade of stained underwear fiascos or the zit invasions that overtook my face every month. But now that I’m an adult, I can say without hesitation that I hate them more. I have a condition called Asherman’s Syndrome, which is scarring and adhesions left behind on my uterus after a D&C. The adhesions stick together and when I get my period the blood cannot exit through my uterus, causing extremely painful cramps. However, extremely painful may be an understatement considering these cramps have caused me to pass out and take several trips to the hospital. So, yeah, I hate periods.
Now I’m sure I’m not the first woman on earth to say she hates periods. Even without a medical condition attached to them, periods are uncomfortable, annoying, costly, and they happen once a month for about 40 years. No big deal. Oh and there is a luxury tax placed on tampons and pads, which kind of feels like women are being taxed just for being women. It’s not like we can change our biology. Yet we have to spend thousands of extra dollars in our lifetime because we bleed through our vaginas. Seems like we should get a reward for having to go through that, not a punishment.
But we do get punished. And not just monetarily, but socially as well. We are made to feel ashamed for getting our periods since we are little kids. Rather than taught that periods are a natural and normal experience that every woman goes through, we are taught to hide the fact every time we get our period. With all the shit that we go through, it’s no wonder that some women are starting to say ‘enough is enough.’ And the manner in which they are saying it is sure to turn some heads.
Free bleeding is the act of not wearing a tampon or pad or ‘sanitary napkin’ when one gets their period. Some women have chosen to start free bleeding as an act of protest against the luxury tax that is placed on tampons and pads. In an effort to bring attention to this injustice, women have chosen to stop buying these products at all until they are tax-free. Other women have made the choice to start free bleeding as an act of female pride and empowerment. Women are choosing not to be ashamed of their period and are showing it by not hiding it…at all.
As a feminist and as an activist I appreciate the idea behind free bleeding and I see the merit, however I personally choose not to do so. I don’t feel ashamed or the need to hide when I have my period, but I also have a medical condition and I feel that is an important factor to keep in mind when making activist demonstrations. There are countless women who do not have the luxury to protest these items because they need them for health reasons. I firmly believe that every woman has the right to choose what to do with their body and that includes free bleeding, however I also believe that actions such need to widen the dialogue to include women with disabilities.