rediconWhen was the last time you felt comfortable to moan in public? Did you moan UP and OUT with fierce energy you’ve been suppressing for the past hour? Have you exclaimed to the being next to you in a PUBLIC SPACE that this wasn’t any basic pain kicking at your lower abdomen, but it’s that extra special PERIOD pain? Yeah, Mother Nature has graced you with her intense presence, and it feels like your universe suddenly revolves around menstrual cramps. You have so much inside of you that’s asking to be said, but what’s stopping this freedom of expression? Mostly, it’s social constructs. The thing is, it should be socially acceptable to groan in public when you’re in pain, and to label this pain as something bloody and monthly without condemnation. But this is not the case and this restriction must be fought against. Let’s give our periods a voice.

We truly don’t talk about our periods enough. Society doesn’t allow us to talk about periods in any form without being shamed. Many beings with a variety of identities reinforce this oppressive ideology, treating the period as something nasty. It is oppressive to shame the period because this equates to shaming the humxn body, and delegitimizes the sacred dialogue of a natural experience and the natural experience in and of itself.
What do I want then? I want to be in a boy’s company and tell him that I have cramps without hesitation, and that it’s because of my heavy flow that day. I want to tell my girlfriends at a party that I’m not wearing a tight dress because I’m hella bloated, without settling for a whisper here and there about my bubbling water weight. I am in a bad mood today because of PMS, and I really don’t want to deal with people, you know? I want to ask aloud at a cafe if anyone has a tampon or a pad I can use, crossing my fingers that they have a regular-sized tampon. But what’s stopping me? There’s society, but there are also the lessons I was taught while growing up.

I was raised in a very liberal Iranian-American household, but one topic that seldom was mentioned was the red dot. I got my period when I was 12 years old while my parents were on a trip, and I was confused on how to deal with it. My mother had never talked to me about the dos and don’ts of your period, so I started experimenting myself. I once left the bathroom door open a crack in my first year of having a period while I was trying to insert a tampon. My mom saw my struggle and became very anxious.

“Why do you want to use a tampon? You’re a virgin!” My mother exclaimed. That’s when I learned that if you use a tampon “too early” in my culture, people will assume you aren’t a virgin. How else would you be able to fit a penis-shaped device into your vaginal opening? You’re dirty if you use a tampon too early, because you’ve lost your virginity too early and that’s really fucking disappointing. *NOT* But this is how I felt when my mother was nervous about my tampon usage. Consequently, I didn’t wear a tampon for the first time until my second year in college. This shaming made me scared of my period, scared of tampons and scared of my vagina.

I was also raised to cross out period pains as a conversation topic because this is the opposite of ladylike behavior. They tell you that your period is too private and too gruesome to share with just any ear. They make it seem like intimacy is only in keeping our periods to ourselves, when intimacy can also be in the sharing of period stories. Our periods are private experiences, but they aren’t too much of anything if the being of experience is ready to share it. Honestly, stop telling me to “spare them the details.” You won’t be mortified hearing this if it becomes more normalized, will you? You know, periods can be SUPER fun to learn about, interesting to express and overall, it’s pretty badass to make people uncomfortable in a productive way.
I am ready to reclaim the period. I will reclaim it by speaking about it casually when I feel like it, heavily when it’s cool for me and others and loudly when I need to. Perhaps we can discuss periods over tea? Come over anytime, and this is going down! My house is my comfort space, but it’s time we talk about periods in settings that push the boundaries of society, when it is safe and necessary for us to do so. It should always be safe for you to talk about your blood stains, the aching somewhere near your stomach, the cravings that make you ravenous for that same something over and over or just how you’re feeling every single emotion right now. It will take time to have every zone a period-friendly one, but together, we can make it happen. Normalize the red dot, the red river, the brown river, the globs of blood, the stain on your jeans. They are all part of the fantastic cycle of life. Your period is LIFE.

Did you know that a cramp is 1/16th the amount of pain of a birthing contraction? That’s a fun fact to start any conversation! Get ready to have a period talk with me. Like, maybe you have some dark chocolate that can relieve my cramps, maybe you have a soothing word or maybe I just shook up your world to provoke your own expansive thinking. Watch me hold my stomach like it needs some loving, like my cramps are an attention-seeking child that just wants to be embraced. I want to listen to your period stories, or if you don’t have a period, your thoughts about periods. Do you have any period knowledge? Do you have any questions? Let’s get this party started — we’ll have a bloody good time! Let’s reclaim the period and the period talk as one. Thank you for your openness and love.

Leilani promises that period talk is less painful than a period cramp.