Is womanhood a curse?

Via my @imGoddess twitter account I post empowering, uplifting and occasionally funny quotes by women for women; so I am tagged sometimes tagged on similar tweets posted by other women. A couple of weeks ago I was tagged on a tweet saying: “The monthly visitor, if nothing else, proves that God and Eve exist, and The Universe hates women. Yet still we rise” I was taken aback by the negative sentiment, although not rare. Plenty women choose phrases such as “having the curse” to describe their period.

I fear that our negative attitude towards menstruation poisons how we perceive womanhood. The onset of your period is the single most significant indicator of the transition from girlhood to womanhood, thus the two are incontrovertibly connected.

I heard a woman on radio promoting menstrual cups. She was punting the benefits of using these cups, made of silicone, over pads and tampons; which are  (1) bad for the environment – most are non-biodegradable, (2) bad for your wallet – relative to a reusable cup which can last for up to 10 years, and (3) potentially bad for your health – remember toxic shock syndrome? She shared that her initial attraction to the product was that it gave her an opportunity to learn more about her body, by becoming more involved with her period. That is when it struck me that the entire sanitary wear industry is designed to enable us to pretend our period does not exist; the more absorbent and less detectable the product, the better. I have a mental picture of stern scientists in white lab coats fiddling with test tubes full of chemicals, intent on concocting a better formula for the thirstiest yet barely there sanitary pad.

When I engaged the author of the tweet on her attitude towards her period, she clarified that her issue is not with menstruating per se, but with all the blood and pain. Did you know that an entire menstrual period usually releases only 35 millilitres of blood? That is less than half a cup!  The adverts would have you believe that  its more akin to a torrent that needs to be stemmed with ever advanced pads and tampons! The language of the industry involves words such as sanitary and protection. Sanitary implies that menstruation is dirty. Protection; what are they protecting us from? Tampon is French for “plug” or “bung”, a variant from the Old French tapon meaning a “piece of cloth to plug a hole”, charming isn’t it? Tanishka, an Australian Women’s Mysteries facilitator, in her book The Inner Goddess Makeover, suggests the use of cloth pads, and returning the rich nutrients in your menstrual blood to the Earth as a way of honouring the life-giving qualities of this blood, instead of flushing them down the city sewers or sending them off to a landfill. This “unsanitary” substance you need protection from forms the basis of what sustained every single human being when they were in utero.

I wonder if the fact that we perceive our period as a pain in the neck contributes to it often being accompanied by actual physical pain. Louise L. Hay, author of Love Yourself, Heal Your Life says “The probable cause of PMS is allowing for too much confusion, giving power to outside influences and rejecting the feminine processes.” She suggests the following affirmation to change the mental process that created the issue:

“I now take charge of my mind and my life. I am a powerful and dynamic woman! Every part of my body functions perfectly. I love me.”

This is an acceptance instead of a rejection of you period, femininity, creativity, womanhood; reclamation of your power.

Before dismissing this as the deranged ranting of a feminist fanatic, take a moment to imagine how different you’d be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually if at the onset of your very first period, the significant women in your life gathered in celebration and you could sense from the elaborate ritual and their joyous expressions that womanhood was indeed blessed.

Please also read this very funny but thought provoking article: “If men could menstruate” by Gloria Steinem

I would love your thoughts on this topic.

0 thoughts on “Is womanhood a curse?”

  1. 'Mathabana Kotelo

    I personally believe that womanhood is a wonderful blessing and that we should embrace every aspect that makes us women and a species in our own right. our menstrual periods should not be viewed as a curse or red robot, auntie Hilda in her red car or any other name depicting monthly periods as a time of doom and gloom.When we learn to have positive thoughts about being a woman, only then can we also be positive about PMS, menopause and yes even the red robot.

  2. hi there,

    i really have to say, intresting hey! I personally have never viewed myself as cursed because i appreciate who we are and our importance in this world. As for the ‘monthly visitor’ i appreciate it as i have always though if it wasnt for that process, we wouldnt be able to produce life.

    My boyfriend understands and actually asks me about it too. This process has made me take note of me and all the physical changes i go through.

    My youngest sister who is 14 and in grade 8 cant wait till she gets hers, shes been interested in the process since she was in grade 5. She understands this is what makes girls differ from woman and seriouly she wants to be a woman which is really funny sometimes but i always tell her it will happen when the time is right.

    Im a woman whi appreciates who and what i am. These processes define us and makes us different and definetly much more human. Woman are human beings with a greater cause…

    Kind regards
    eunice mogashoa

  3. As someone who started her periods at 9, I resented them with a passion for most of my teenage years. Those were the days of Kotex only, with loops for holding them in place. For a skinny 9 year old this was torture. I battled to walk with this bunched up between my legs. Whoever said all women menstruate only 35 milliliters was not talking about me. At 9 I had no idea that these things lasted for longer than a day – imagine my horror when a puddle formed on my desk where I’d been sitting, cause I went to school on the 2nd day of my period not knowing I had to put another pad in. There certainly was more than half a cup on that day only. There was no romanticism of transitioning into womanhood for me at that early age.
    After I had my daughter, periods became a bodily function I was ambivalent about for years, despite all the pain, just like my monthly migraine that accompanied them, until a year and a half ago when they started becoming really painful, incredibly heavy and prone to arriving whenever they felt like it. Changing a super plus tampon with a pad for ‘safety’ every hour is not going to convince me to stop hating them. I mute my hate cause at my age (42) there is a chance that I may no longer have kids if I wanted to and I would hate not having that choice. It’s almost as if I were to verbalize the hate I would curse myself barren on the spot. This is actually the first time I’ve said this publicly and it’s just made me feel free. Cathartic! I hate my periods! Do I feel like I’m compromising and denying my womanhood by hating them? Hell freaking no! I’ve hated them for a while now yet I’ve really come into my own as a woman who revels in her own body and in her sexuality.
    To me, the pressure to ‘love’ and embrace periods is in the same class of tyranny as the natural hair issue we black women subject each other to.
    I hate my periods the same way I hate people who try to make me feel guilty about hating my period. And this is not a feminist issue. I hate periods the same way I hate my chronic post-nasal drip. Yet I don’t see anyone promoting self-love with PND, only remedies to cure it or offers of a specialist to have my sinus removed by the same people who advise against relaxing my hair and speak of periods as a reminder of how powerful women are. Both make functioning without serious medication impossible for me on a monthly basis. Do I hate being human because I hate PND? No. Do I hate being a woman because I hate periods? Of course not. Do I love me any less? No way. I just love less anyone who is going to prescribe to me how I should be feeling at that time.
    But I reserve my special hate for the notion that girls transition into womanhood when they get their periods. This implies that they transition out of womanhood when those periods stop. As a woman who is closer to this end I wonder what I will be called then as I would be leaving womanhood surely if we apply the same logic? As a woman who has listened to prejudice From other ‘women’ about women who can’t produce kids I wince when I hear periods being equated to blossoming and fertile womanhood. The fact that we have names in our languages for females who can’t bear children – names which imply the lack of womanhood – makes me angry.
    Womanhood is not a special preserve for females who get periods.
    Before dismissing this a rant by a deranged feminist high on pain, don’t. Embrace the fact that sometimes there are women who gladly enjoy expressing their anger every 25/28 days or so, and who gladly enjoy a Cosmo or two in the company of other angry women.

    *Written by angry black woman with PMS before taking Cataflam, Myprodol and Rescue Remedy.

  4. From the time I first started having a menstrual period on up till now I have been told it was a curse that God put on women because they committed the first sin and God was punishing all women for it.I’ve hated being a women ever sence then I’ve begged God to please make me a man.

  5. I get the impression that you believe it is incorrect for women to dislike menstruating. I recognize that it is part of an amazing cycle that enabled me to give birth to my children.It is also a part of a hormonal cycle that has brought the greatest pain and suffering in my life with debilitating menstrual migraines that have become so crippling I had to give up me dream job. I absolutely hate it. It is messy, smelly, makes me feel like crap, and I don’t feel like I am betraying womanhood by saying that. I have cometo this emotion purely by myslf and have not been led here by society telling me I should be ashamed of my body.

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