Friday, February 11, 2011

Please DON'T thank me for menstruating, thankyouverymuch.

Have you seen this? Josh wants to "thank me" for menstruating.

I was, shall we say, a little miffed that a cis man, who does not and will not ever menstruate, felt it was "cute" to tell me what to do with my body and my periods. But then I read the comments, and was appalled at the number of (cis) women who were THANKING him for it, praising his "bravery," and who thought it was so "great" that a cis man was telling them this...

The post has a line or two about how great human bodies are because of all the wonderful things they do, but it does not praise cis women's bodies -- nor does it ever thank cis women for doing the job of menstruating (and everything that comes along with/results from it: pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding). Instead, it just tells us that we should menstruate regularly, because in this dude's opinion that's the way things out to be.

There's no medical reason for me to shave my armpits, either -- should I stop doing that?

Actually, since the author of the post chose to equate menstruation with defecation (it would be more convenient for if you only "took a crap" once a month), let's follow that line of thought... you do realize that once-a-month crap is a 24-hour drip for five to seven days, right? How convenient would that be for you, Josh?

I have very easy periods, for the most part. I hardly get cramps, unless it's really cold. I'm paranoid about using tampons, because every box of tampons comes with the little paper with the warnings on toxic shock syndrome, and especially when I was teaching I had a hard time finding the time to change my tampon during the school day, so I often kept the tampon in longer than "recommended," making me sure I was going to drop dead from TSS any day now. (Once, when I got back to my classroom a few seconds after the bell, one of the assistant principals was outside my door, announcing to his walkie-talkie that I was MIA. I really, really wanted to explain to him exactly why I was late.) I'm not a big fan of pads, because after the second or third straight day the dry-weave starts to irritate your skin, y'know?

Now that I'm older and wiser I'm probably going to invest in a Diva Cup once "Aunt Flo" returns, so my minor inconveniences will be even less of an issue. But, you see, I know how lucky I am.

Some women have irregular periods, and take hormonal birth control to help them regulate their bodies, to help them take control of their bodies. The best thing about being on birth control was knowing when I was going to start bleeding -- because, you know, it's nice to know when bodily fluids are going to start oozing out of you. It gets messy if you don't take proper precautions, you see...

Now, notice how, sometime between two and four years of age, we learn how to control the sphincter that releases crap? And you learn how to keep it closed, holding the crap in, until you can get to a toilet, to take your crap? I don't know how up you are on biology and how uteri and cervixes and stuff work, but we don't have a handy-dandy contraption like that one in our vagina. The blood just comes out; we can't control it. So it's nice to know when it's going to start coming out, so we can wear a diaper, or plug up the hole.

And then there's those cis women's (and trans men's) bodies that work differently than, say, your wife's. Some cis women's and trans men's bodies don't do well with the whole menstruating thing... I know, I know, hard to believe, since we cis women are put on this Earth for the sole purpose of being impregnated by lovely cis men such as yourself. The idea of a cis woman's body not being 100% ready and willing to get pregnant and bear children for you is, well, preposterous!

Absurd as it may be, it happens to be true.

For those people, who have to call in sick to work because of what menstruating does to their body, the idea of fewer periods probably makes a heck of a whole lotta sense.

But you know what makes even more sense? Letting, like, doctors and other medical professionals decide what is and is not "safe." Oh, yeah -- and letting the person in question decide what ze wants to do with hir body, and which hormones ze does and does not want to put in it.

Yes, some people have bad reactions to the pill or other forms of hormonal birth control. I dare you to find a medication that doesn't have a bad reaction for somebody. And for every story you can give me of a person who had a terrible experience with hormonal birth control, I can find a person who had a terrible experience with menstruation, and who needs those hormones to "fix" the problem. I can probably also find you ten people who took those same hormones and had wonderful experiences.

We put tons of chemicals and hormones into our bodies every day, the vast majority of them not medically or biologically necessary. Maybe the author of the post above does not eat any meat or fish, or if he does he raises it himself, and grows all of his food in his own backyard, watering it with collected rainwater or water pumped from his own private, not-flouride-inated well... if so, bully for him. He still has no business telling me what I should or should not do with or to my reproductive organs, or how happy I should be about the things they do on a monthly basis.

Now, if he wanted to write a post actually thanking me for menstruating, instead of telling me how grateful I should be for it, then that's something I'd gladly read. (No, I won't hold my breath.)

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  1. Great point. One of my big take-aways from the post is that it didn't seem to really be about whether or not you have a period, but about "pumping our bodies full of artificial hormones" which seems more of an argument for avoiding ALL methods of hormonal birth control... without any mention of what to use instead. Sometimes it feels like those of us who are able to reproduce are damned if we do, damned if we don't... and, once again, I really wish there were more talk about the few non-homrone-based birth control options available.

  2. Brava!

    I followed the link, and for reasons I can't explain, grew seriously angry.
    Maybe I just have a problem with other people who aren't my doctor telling me what is best for my body, I don't know.

    Thanks for the brilliant response!

  3. Anonymous7:04 PM

    This guy is just an idiot. There is a medical reason to take a crap everyday. Otherwise, your body retains and fills with toxins.

    I stopped reading there, because I don't have time for village idiots spouting off about things they think they know about.

    On the other hand, I'm not going to tell him what he should do with his bowel movements, and likewise, he shouldn't feel the right to tell me what to do with anything at all related to my body. Again ... idiot.

    (This is Karen, btw. Something has changed here and I'm having to give my LJ name, which I don't think you know...)

  4. Anonymous7:39 PM

    I read the post, but not the comments. I have a feeling that the comments would cause rampant rage.

    "For those people, who have to call in sick to work because of what menstruating does to their body, the idea of fewer periods probably makes a heck of a whole lotta sense."

    That was me for two years. Every month on a Sunday, like clockwork, I'd have to call out because of debilitating stomach pains and vomiting. It got to the point I'd start requesting that day off. At my recent checkup, my doctor figured out my stomach problems were the result of hormone withdraw. My migraines stopped at 15 because of birth control (unfortunately, family history made them come back)

    Plus, I'm childfree. And genderqueer. I'd like to stop menstruating all together; at least one cause of my dissonance would disappear. I'm taking those hormones as much as I darn well please.

  5. I think this guy should take a stance against all medicine. You know, just to be consistent. "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL I'M TALKING ABOUT BUT IT'S SOUNDS BADDDDD AND IT'S UNNATURAL SO BOOOOO MEDICINE" :/

    It's also screwed up how he equates womanhood with menstruation. That excludes a lot of women.

  6. The thing that got me was the wife running in behind him, explaining and picking up for him and trying to make us all see that his essentialism and patronizing nonsense were okay because he'd consulted her about them.

    As I commented to her, the two of them, as a married couple, can talk about what she does with her reproductive system as much they want to. When he takes to the blog to write unsupported opining like that, he's crossed a line.

    Am I correct in my memory that this part of a larger scheme of "crunchy" conservatism including anti-choice beliefs? Because it would fit right into that, and if that's not their belief structure, then they both really, really need a reality check.

  7. Thank you for this post Criss.

  8. He is a cis man. He is not a doctor. Why is he even writing about this? Reading the comments did not help my faith in humanity. Birth control is a very personal thing, and everyone is different. Just because one person reacts badly to a certain type, doesn't mean that it is evil.

    A man thanking me for menstruating is incredbily patronizing. I wish the comments weren't closed. Telling women how their bodies should work sounds a lot like anti-choice rhetoric. I don't think this guy knows how varied the spectrum is for "natural" and "beautiful" bodily functions.

  9. Anonymous1:38 AM

    I would not gladly read a post genuinely thanking women for menstruating, either. Yeah, it might be slightly less awful than the one he actually wrote, but even that is none of his damn business.