This was originally going to be a much different post. A post about what feminism means to me, about true gender equality. Instead it is going to be about extremism within the feminist movement and how I, as a woman, often feels misrepresented by “the sisterhood” or sometimes even feel betrayed and judged. Why the shift in perspective? The other day I read an article about the “shame of menstruation and period blood.” Not that that was the real title but it might as well have been. In the article the journalist interviewed two feminists who had a book coming out about menstruation which in itself is fine. But then they started to say things like “women are ashamed of their period” or “they hide their pads like you’d hide drugs on their way to the bathroom” and it annoyed the hell out of me which is why I decided to write a blog post about it.
WHAT IS FEMINISM?
It has to be said that the article itself didn’t tricker all this annoyance and outrage. This article was just the straw that broke the camels back – at least for me. In its core feminism is about the advocacy for women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. To me that means gender equality for both men and women. Yes, you heard correctly. Men have areas that are lacking, too, in some countries less than others but that isn’t what I wanted to talk about. I think all women have met a man or two in her life who is a total duchebag with a brain still stuck in the Stone Age. The type that thinks that a woman’s place is in the kitchen while he sits in the living room reading the Sunday paper. Do I like that men like that exist? No. But are ALL men like this? No! In fact, meeting extreme man-hating feminists have a much bigger inpact on me. Why? Because they act as if they speak on behalf of half the population on earth when they proclaim that “all men are scum!” But you know what? Not all men are scum! Most men I’ve met – obviously I can only talk from own past experiences – are sweet, caring and loving people who – you guessed it – also belief in gender equality! Shocking, right? (I hope you’re familiar with sarcasm).
Feminism is about gender equality and that is why when extreme feminists try to advocate for the superiority of the female I slowly back away. They do not speak for me – I am not a part of that “sisterhood”! The “sisterhood” that thinks it is okay to villainize the entire male population to make a statement and thereby indirectly say that women are the victims. And here I thought it was about empowering women, telling young girls that they can do and be whatever and whoever they want, not victimising them. That approach reminds me of politicians who always talk about what their opponents do wrong, but never about what they themselves would do or change.
THE INFAMOUS ARTICLE
To come back to the article itself – before I slightly went off on a tangent – I would like to give my rebuttle to the statements so here goes:
1. Women are ashamed of their periods
In my book that is a very bold statement to make. Especially considering how many different cultures there are in the world. Again, I can only speak for myself but I have never been ashamed of my period, and I’m not sure if I’ve never met a woman who has. I’m sure some are, though. Especially when you think about how many religious people there are and that the bible, for instance, deems a woman on her period unclean. It’s not hard to see why my relationship with the bible – and religion in general – is strained. If anything is non-beneficial when speaking of feminism and gender equality then it is the bible. Sorry, I went off on a tangent again. My point is: no, women are not ashamed of their periods but some may be due to reasons, and of course they shouldn’t be.
2. Women think period blood is gross
Again, yes that might be the case for some, but not for me. What I do think, though, is that it is inconvenient, and I would have thought the same no matter what kind of society I’m a part of. Do I hate my period? No, like everything else it has a function and I accept that.
3. Women hide pads and tampons in their sleeves as if it were drugs
I fully admit that I don’t go around and show my pads and tampons to everyone who happens to walk past me on my way to the toilet. Am I ashamed? No. I just happen to think that it is private and that is doesn’t concern other people, especially not my colleagues. Why would I tell people that I am on my period when it won’t affect my work in the slightest?
4. Women cannot have sex during their periods
Now that is a bunch of wank! Of course they can but do they always want to? Some women get more horny during their periods and some don’t. I, for one, don’t shy away from having sex while I’m on my period but I don’t always want to. Depending on hormons and how the flow is I can sometimes be in pain and feel fat and gross. And who wants sex when their hormons make them feel like that? It depends on the man as well. Some men thinks that period blood is gross and I guess that that is okay even though I do think they should get over it. The only way to avoid that is to be single and never have sex, or gay. Or old, haha! Sorry, menopause joke. Like my dear fiancé pointed out: if a man is into anal sex it would be ironic if he would then shy away from having sex while his female partner is on her period. I second that, and it takes less preparation as well. You just need a towel, and accept the smell of iron (with sex on a period, I mean, not anal sex – that would be weird).
5. Free bleeding and freeing onself from oppressive pads and tampons
I didn’t even know about free bleeding before the article (read about it here). To each their own but to me it sounds exhausting to have that much laundry every single day. I don’t even own enough underwear to be able to do that! Just saying. To me pads and tampons are not oppressive. They help me feel free and not care about my period. I do wish they were cheaper, though, but I like that you have options. Even though I never tried it I’m a big fan of period cups as well, exactly for that reason. One size doesn’t fit all and I like that we can do it the way we want. And isn’t that the core of feminism?
6. Pearl necklaces and Bloody Marys
If you know, you know, and if you don’t you’re in for a ride. A pearl necklace is a term refering to a sexual act in which a man ejaculates semen on or near the neck, chest, or breast of another person. For me personally it only exists in porn but it is considered a sexual preference thing. A Bloody Mary is a term of which a person performs oral sex on their partner while they’re on their period. It is also the name of a cocktail drink. DO NOT CONFUSE THE TWO! Just kidding (kind of). The act is supposed to be the equivalent to a pearl necklace. Now, here are my thoughts: you do you, whatever you’re into! Personally a pearl necklace isn’t something I desire, neither is a Bloody Mary. I think both are gross. There, I said it. Is blood more gross than semen? Not in my book but I happen to think that semen is pretty gross. In my opinion both semen and period blood are actually very similar: they both have a weird colour, they both stain the sheets, they both smell, and they both have a specific purpose. Again, each to their own, but it’s a no thanks from me.
Generally speaking the word feminism doesn’t really bring up a lot of positive associations anymore due to extremists and that, frankly, is a shame. When I was younger I used to think that feminism was a movement working on improving life for women, securing that women have the same rights as men, the message often yelled out of the mouth of an weirdly angry or sturdy looking woman. Why I only later in life became curious enough to do a simple Google search is probably due to the fact that I thought I knew exactly what a feminist was: a hater of men… Or so it seemed. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the definition of the, in my opinion, very misleading word, and even more so when I instantly knew that I, per definition, have to be what I call a true feminist.
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What associations do you get when you hear the word feminism?
Do you think the extreme feminists tend to ruin the equality debate?