It would be impossible to tell you how much I love the internet. Anything and everything is here, if you know how to find it. I have been very concerned lately about menstruation. I mean, I feel ashamed that as a woman I never truly thought very much about how others deal with it. In this search for knowledge I have bumped into the short film “The story or menstruation” by Disney, a rather informative short film which explains what is menstruation.
But …. what is menstruation?
Though it affects half of the population in the world, you would be surprised to find out that many people cannot explain what is menstruation.
Every month, the lining of our womb thickens so it could potentially host one of our millions of eggs we have in our ovaries. This dense lining is needed as it would provide with nutrients should one o our eggs get fertilise.
Most of our eggs pass through life without being fertilised,hence our body disposes this lining in the form of menstruation. For most of us this happens every 28 days.
Why is raising awareness about menstruation important ?
I do give money to charities every month. especially for water, as it is the source of life. I wish I had thought before about period poverty. If you are not acquainted with the term , period poverty is used to describe the situation of those women and girls who cannot afford sanitary products.
As a non UK native, it surprised me that this happened here: a country where people get free condoms at any GUM clinic and free tests. I have to admit that I am still in shock. Since I have heard the term, I have not stop reading and getting aware of how much poverty there is in this sense. Before the current school where I work, which is rather posh, I used to work in a state school whose catchment was very mixed. A big part of it was made out underprivileged students. I have come across some sad pictures but not this, hence I lived in the blessing of ignorance about period poverty.
Females susceptible from suffering from period poverty
- Girls/women coming from an underpriviledged background
- Women in prison
- Homeless females
How can we help people dealing with menstruation and period poverty?
Luckily there are organisations such as no more taboo which are doing a great job helping vulnerable girls and women have dignity in her periods. As a teacher, I am in a privileged position to talk about this things. I am not raising awareness between pupils and colleagues who, like me, did not have an idea that period poverty was such a big problem in the UK.
From period poverty to Disney
Every day I read, search and surprise myself with new facts. There is so much to do and we was women ought to act and help others. No one like us knows about how hard it can be to menstruate: the pains, the tiredness, the worry, the social stigma, etc.. In this research about menstruation, I found “The story of menstruation”, a film by Disney from 1946 intended to be shown at schools, in health education lessons until the 60’s.
Though the film is a bit old fashioned (surprise, its from the 40s!) I do not find it as backward or falling into false myths as other things that were being said at the time. Disney made it for the company which is now Kimberly-Clark. Behind “The story of menstruation” there was the money making factory which sells dreams or, in this case, tampons. Basically, they paid Disney to promote the use of their product whilst educating. This is not a new practise and Americans excel in this field.
Nevertheless I like that it does reiterate the idea of “You can do practically everything you normally do” . I have to admit though that it has a bit of a condescending tone, kind of “do not feel sorry for yourself”. After all, remember that women were supposed to be superhuman beings back then more than ever: a mix of domestic goddess and efficient secretary meets loving mother and always giving and forgiving wife. Even so, the view of women of periods it is just one of “man up and get on with it” or shall I say “woman up”? Much better than things that were heard in Spain such us “do not have a shower during your period”, “The story of menstruation” encourages you to look after yourself and chin up during this time of the month.
“Very personally, yours” the booklet that went together with the film
Girls were also given a booklet with information on the matter. You can see the booklet here . It is meant to be helpful and I think it many senses is and contains things that we would say still today. The only issue is the tone. But hey, that is the way we women got talked to back then.There is no much we can do about it now. This is more an oddity than any other thing and it is interesting to see as part of history. They do not mention the word blood or sex, but that is to be expected in the 40s. Considering the situation, it was much more ahead than many countries in Europe. The idea was ok, they just needed to tweak the angle of the story.
The book became more reputable when it got the Good Housekeeping approval. To be honest, I see it as condescending as some of the courses we are made do at school about bullying, female mutilation, etc which are meant to educate teachers who are , luckily, mostly aware. It is all money making for companies and government who create these things and make people pay to get accredited.
Modern alternatives to educate people (yes, boys and men too) about menstruation
If you are in the situation of having to explain menstruation and the complications that it entails or just want to have a look at it, you can visit the United Nations Girl’s Education Initiative post on menstruation here.
Nowadays we have much more friendly materials to raise awareness without patronising people. There is plenty on the internet, and if you -like me- do a bit of research every day you will realise how much is going on. Please do help, I am on it now and I regret so much having overlooked this matter.
Raising awareness about the importance of menstruation and period poverty
Next time you buy tampons, or sanitary towels think of getting one more pack and go to your local charity. Also try to spread the word. It will be greatly appreciated.
Girls care ©