Because there shouldn’t be anything shameful about it.
It’s almost shocking how few men are aware of how periods actually work, let alone the fact that some guys actually have them too.
My favorite story of period ignorance comes from a friend who worked for a middle-aged state representative who’d regularly rant about how much he hated the fact there were tampon machines in the bathroom. He particularly liked to go on a diatribe about how lazy women were for always taking breaks that were “too long”.
Unsurprisingly, when my friend asked to be excused during a meeting, he always demanded to know why. When she eventually begrudgingly informed him it was to change her tampon, he informed her she was absolutely not allowed to get up, and was expected to finish her work. She stared at him in disbelief and quietly informed him that if that was the case, she’d be left to bleed onto her chair.
His return stare was one of abject horror.
“You mean if you don’t go, you’ll just keep on bleeding? I thought women could turn that off any time they wanted?”
This fully grown man honestly believed periods were a deliberate choice, used as an excuse to be at the desk less often. This man went through highschool, college, and a good portion of his adult life, having zero idea of how periods actually worked.
Of course, there are some men who unashamedly buy tampons for their partners and daughters, and do their part to mitigate the weird stigma we have surrounding our periods, and they deserve credit where it’s due.
Even more so, do the often ignored population of men who actually have periods.
Trans people exist in this world, and their bodies do a lot of the same sorts of things the rest of ours do, something we easily forget when we aren’t busy trying to police which restrooms they use. And it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for some (especially if they’re forced to explain the necessity of their bathroom breaks by middle-aged state representatives who are tragically stupid).
Being misgendered can do a lot more than mess up a person’s day – it can put them on a spiral of self-doubt that’s as terrifying as it is dangerous. What makes it all the more tragic, is how unnecessary this potential outing of gender identity is, and how easily it could be avoided.
If all men had periods, education would be universal. Men would make sure we understood the process their bodies went through, it wouldn’t take almost a century for there to be a breakthrough development in menstrual products, and conversations about periods would be as commonplace as jokes about having to adjust your balls in public. If all men had periods, tampons wouldn’t be taxed as ‘luxury’ items and birth control pills would be as easy to get your hands on as condoms.
And if we were more aware of the fact that some men do have periods, we’d spend a lot less time making them feel bad or awkward for having them. One of the few menstrual product brands to actually attempt to challenge this, period underwear makers, THINX, specifically advertise that their products are for trans men, as well as cisgender (people whose identity aligns with the gender they were born with) women.
While we’re at it, we should also probably stop gendering sanitary products as ‘feminine’ hygiene products. Not all of us are feminine and not all of us are women, and maybe it’ll help stem the wave of other ridiculously gendered products that are infecting stores around the world.
Talking more about periods in public does a lot to remove the stigma of having them, regardless of whether you’re a cis woman or a trans guy. If we start to educate society on the fact that periods are as commonplace as itchy balls and wet dreams, and that we don’t get to choose whether or not they happen to us, regardless of our gender, maybe then we can use the bathroom in peace.
GIFs via tumblr.com.
Comment: Do you agree there’s still a lot of shame and stigma around having a period, particularly for trans men?