Happy to bleed: A social movement or a media hype?
Happy to bleed: A social movement or a media hype?Introduction:
If you are a woman, and an Indian woman most importantly, you cannot deny that you have faced an instance in your life when your menstrual cycle was treated as a taboo. Irrespective of which caste or religion you hail from, there are set of rules a girl is dictated to follow during the days of her menstrual periods.
A Hindu temple in Kerala came into controversy when a priest made a sexist statement claiming that women could enter the temple only when in days to come some sort of scanning device is invented that would detect if a woman is bleeding. The famous Sabarimala temple forbids the entry of women in reproductive age of 10 to 50 from entering the temple.
First the media took the opportunity to create a prime time news material out of this and then the ladies on social media started the hashtag #happytobleed. The campaign that was supposed to be opposed to sexism in India somehow turned into a social movement to eradicate the taboo associated with menstruation.
1. Allowing only men to enter a temple or a shrine is sexism period. Allowing only those women who are not in the reproductive age to enter a temple or shrine is serious discrimination along with sexism. Menstruation is the biological conditioning of a woman’s body and that doesn’t make her impure or untouchable. It is nature’s way of determining fertility in women. The whole idea of bleeding women being impure created the taboo associated with menstruation in India.
2. Patriarchy in our country flourished under these kind of social stigma that objectifies women as nothing more than a reproductive machine and that too is said to make her impure. There are families that still follow rules that ask menstruating women not to enter kitchen area and not to touch jars of pickles. First, you confine her life to kitchen and to adhering the needs of the family and then you ask her not to enter kitchen while she is having her periods. The dictatorial nature of these orthodox rules needs serious upgrading.
3. Humans breed because women can bleed. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about it, instead women are rightfully coming out to support the campaign, happy and proud to bleed. Families and society still treats periods as taboo and expect girls to hide beneath some rock in those days. Should she be ashamed of her own entity or the fact that she is capable of reproduction? We all have seen how the medical storekeeper or any other shopkeeper would double wrap the sanitary napkin packet in newspapers before handling it out to you. What is it? A bomb? Who is the girl? A terrorist? I wonder if that’s also the way they hand out condoms to men.
4. The starting of menstrual cycle in a teenage girl is not the best of her days. They experience cramps and all sorts of mood swings with hormones dancing all around and no proper explanation by the orthodox families apart from the popular statement by mothers and elder sisters, “it happens to all of us.” Most of the 90s girl will agree that they felt that they have stuck with a permanent illness for the rest of their lives. It was all because of the taboo associated with menstruation that mothers or any other person in the family would not talk openly about it for a very long time. Of course, things have changed for good now. Both the parents have taken it upon them to handle the matter with sensitivity and understanding but then these kind of restrictions push us back to the same Old Stone Age.
5. In rural areas the conditions are much worse than we could even imagine to have ever faced. There is no proper hygiene and sanitary health education for menstruating girls. They are still stuck with the old methods of using worn out clothes during menstrual periods. And the most dreaded part – they do not know why they are bleeding every month. Lack of sex education is creating havoc in villages of Orissa and other states where minor girls of age 12-15 are becoming victims of sexual assault and pregnancy. The root of the problem still lies in the patriarchal rule of treating menstruation as taboo.
6. The chief priest needs a machine that would detect if a woman passing through it is having her periods or not. He further clarifies it by saying that science has invented scanners to check for hidden devices and weapons and should soon invent something for this cause too. Weapons and devices are harmful. Are bleeding woman harmful too? It is about time the patriarchal society stops trying to whip women into submission.
1. The statement by the temple chief was exaggerated by media into something that the priest might not have meant at all. It was funny when this issue was focused in prime time news of a leading news channel, debated heavily. This isn’t the first instance or a rare news in a country like ours where people would kill and die for beef eating and offending someone’s religion. This is an age old tradition that has been followed and – whether we like it or not – these people cannot be forced to change their viewpoint.
2. It is not just Hinduism that follows this rule. Islam and other religion also have such obligations. There are reasons also to support this rule. Women experience cramps and other difficulties during periods. Keeping them away and giving them a break from household chores like cooking is only intended to give them the much needed rest. The time when these rules were made are the ancient days when there was nothing like sanitary napkins to aid bleeding women. This was the sole reason why these kind of obligations should have been made. It is us who distorted their meanings.
3. Even if women are allowed to enter temples, mosques and shrines during menstrual periods, most of them would not. A myth or an age old tradition as we call it, is deep etched and feminists cannot do anything about it with these campaigns. Awareness campaigns can.
The happy to bleed campaign might die out in a few weeks but the fact that these kind of campaigns are working a great deal ahead in making women more confident and comfortable with their entity is worth applauding. Women have become stronger than ever and they are questioning the rights and wrongs about the set of patriarchal rules. Their curiosity should not be condemned in the name of media hype and such socially motivating campaigns should be propagated at large scale even in villages and rural areas where women suffer the most due to the social stigma that makes menstruation a taboo in modern India. For our part, we could simply start by telling shopkeepers not to waste all the newspapers and polythene to wrap our sanitary napkin packs.
- RE: Happy to bleed: A social movement or a media hype? -Deepa Kaushik (12/15/15)
- It does not matter whether it is a social movement or media hype. As far as it does good for the females, both social movement and media hype are acceptable. The concern is to relieve the women of our country out of this stigma and taboo which surrounds the menstruation.
People in our country consider the menstruation as taboo. They have many unwritten guidelines and rules for the menstruating females. Though the custom started to provide rest to the bleeding female, but the original reason holds no good when the silly customs become torturesome for the girl who is already bearing immense pain. The unnecessary ideologies and traditions which has hardly any value with the advancements in hygiene and sanitation, are creating more of mental trauma to the females who are in a way exposed to the world of their bleeding due to these customs. Many a times the teenager girls get embarrased of these customs in front of others. If the movement helps the females to live a life out of this taboo, it is very much welcome.
The traditions meant to give rest to the menstruating females. Instead, women today have to carry on with their routine work during this period along with this agony, and the society garnishes the pain with their sick stigmas and taboo. There is every reason to support this movement. If media supports this movement, let that be a hype.
There is no doubt that our media hype every issue. They have lost their professional ethics to stand within their limit. When they do this for unnecessary things, then supporting this movement by the media people is very much welcoming. If that is a hype, this hype is for good. Let the media carry-on with their philosophy to hype the movement and give some fresh air to breathe to our females.
- RE: Happy to bleed: A social movement or a media hype? -anil (12/15/15)
- Good article..
- RE: Happy to bleed: A social movement or a media hype? -swati (12/15/15)
- its soo nice