Part of the way through Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret I made the mistake of asking a girl in my class what a “period” was. I then endured months of humiliation, sometimes from guys who, I now think, didn’t really know either. This was in sixth grade, and I didn’t get a comprehensive explanation until 10th grade when I took an anatomy class that used a college textbook.
Yeah, I would have liked an education that spared me all the humiliation, but I also wish it could have just been addressed as a fact of life, and not something shameful.
Start with Kids in the Hall:
While they’re at it they could also throw in some education about male reproductive equipment as there’s pretty much universal ignorance about that too.
Agreed. Basically, educate boys and girls about both boy and girl bodies.
I never thought they were funny.
I don’t think this idea would go over well with certain segments of our society …
I remember getting a very brief description of periods and cycles in a 6th grade boy’s assembly. Early 70s. And the little birds-and-bees book my parents gave me a year or two earlier had something about cycles too.
Now, here’s the weird thing. There was no let-on about the nature of the “flow.” So as a ten year old I imagined this horrific ichor. Maybe bubbling and green.
It wasn’t until one of the ladies of the house left a used napkin out on the radiator cover next to the toilet, and I realized: “Ah . . . it’s blood coming out of there.”
I’m an old Vulcan so I thought these stories of ignorance weren’t true anymore. But apparently not.
In grade school they separated the girls and the boys and while the boys went out and played dodge ball, the girls saw the movie, “Becoming a Woman” or something like that.
When they came back we asked what it was about, 'None of your business!" they shouted and laughed at us.
I learned later that some people at the school wanted to stop showing that movie about periods to the girls because they thought they were too young and it might ‘give them ideas’ Right, as if they would be out menstruating promiscuously before they were ready.
My source of information were woman’s magazines. (Thank you Redbook!) and the box with the pamphlet “Your First Period” that Kotex sent to my mother for my sisters. I learned about how to insert a tampon and how to wear a pad. Not information that I personally needed, but still good to know.
But what I didn’t get was the info about what the experience was like until after college while driving from Nor Cal to So Cal on a long road trip with 3 woman friends. I wish that I had gotten that kind of info in high school. It made me see woman and people and not as some kind of strange creatures whose experiences were unfathomable to men.
Wait, so it’s NOT the same as hemorrhoids?
As a young woman educated in Texas public schools, I definitely agree that a pretty significant portion of society (at least in my sexually bass-ackwards state) would be opposed to this.
In 5th grade, all the girls and boys were corralled into separate rooms to watch separate videos about our respective sex’s reproductive systems and puberty, but there was no mention of what the other sex was experiencing. And, naturally, there were no helpful tips on how NOT to get pregnant for the females, just “hey, you can get pregnant now, FYI. Here’s a diagram of the female reproductive system made of pancake batter.”
That (and some cultural taboos/acceptances among different ethnic groups in my district) was probably part of why so many girls in my grade became pregnant around the age of 16 and ended up in “alternative school,” or not in school at all.
But Dog forbid we should educate gals about how not to get pregnant (even though we have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the country). No, Dog wouldn’t like us to teach teenagers how to protect themselves: that should be left up to parents (who also have not had great sex ed experiences, if they’ve had them at all, and who tend to be in denial about teenagers’ sex lives)…
Okay, I’m getting down off my soap box, now.
Hey, you never know when an evil super-scientist will bathe your city with his MenstruoRay, resulting in all citizens running to the drug store to stock up on Protection.
(The one time I used a pad was in a sock, over a blister on my foot.)
I agree that throughout history there has been lots of completely misogynist shaming and fear around menstruation, especially from less educated and extremely religious cultures. What I don’t understand though is the authors assertion that being grossed out by a used tampon is somehow indicative of deeply rooted cultural sexism.
I think most people have a innate aversion to blood, especially from other people. I wouldn’t really appreciate it if my coworker had a bloody nose and left used bloody tissues all over the work place. I can be displeased by that without thinking said coworker is unclean and must be banished to a well.
And yes, I know it’s not a gushing font of blood.
This isn’t a thing of the past. There are still religions that consider a woman on her period to be unclean and a potential hazard for anybody around her. Something to be ashamed of, because the superior men in the culture don’t have to go through it.
My mom volunteered for the parent committee evaluating prospective sex ed materials for the local school district back in the '90s, and she’s still laughing/appalled at that film 20 years later.
But I distinctly recall learning about female reproduction and menstruation in public elementary/middle school sex ed in the 1980s in Michigan - I wasn’t aware teaching about the opposite sex’s plumbing wasn’t part of the curriculum everywhere.
Glad to be in menopause!
I think I was in about 5th grade when our class went through sex ed (this was in Indiana, around 1989/1990). Both genders got equal class time, and I left knowing pretty thoroughly what was going on with both sides of the equation. When did schools stop doing that? On a related note, I wish I could look back in time and see those class sessions play out, because I remember the teachers sharing some over-our-heads comments and jokes among themselves about the material, which in retrospect I’d probably find pretty hilarious.
Yeah I know. I meant “throughout history” as in “virtually every time including today.” Should’a been more clear.
The author didn’t open with a story about a young girl shamed and oppressed by fundamentalist religion because of the natural consequences of puberty. It was two teenagers in a prank war, one of whom was very displeased to find a quantity of (simulated) biological waste in his locker because sexism(?).
I still haven’t come to terms with the idea that women go to the toilet.
Rather than just teaching boys about the mechanics, I wish we (men) would have been taught about mood swings, hormones, the phases of menstruation, and how long they last. That would help both sides I think. I had a pre-med female friend teach this to me in college cause she wanted to help me get laid by teaching me that all women ovulate exactly 9.5 days after the end of mood phase II. She figured I could time my date requests to better effect if I learned a girl’s schedule.