(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 26 May 2012)
I have been pondering the “purity” factor imposed on women for a couple of months now. I have talked about it with friends, read about it in books and watched a documentary about it. It seems there are just so many ways that a woman can be “icky.”
For example, social norms has long held that if a woman has sex before she is married, she is not pure. When she is on her menstrual cycle, she is not pure. In fact, just by virtue of being a woman, she is so unclean that she cannot enter certain religious areas or functions.
In other words, we are made to believe that by just being alive a woman is unclean. Nonsense! How on earth does it make sense that it is okay for a man to have sex before marriage, but it somehow makes a woman impure?
Sex is a natural biological function for both females and males. Sex does not (or should not) improve one gender’s honourable standing while degrading the other’s.
Yet there is a constant demand throughout recent history to make sure the girl stays a virgin and thereby “pure’ while the man can have sex as much as he wants without any declaration of icky-ness.
And then we have menstrual cycles. Oh my! It really gets me mad when I think that patriarchal societies have turned the very blood that makes life into an unclean and evil thing.
A woman’s period is yet just another biological function. There is nothing – I repeat, NOTHING – that is gross, unclean or impure about a menstrual cycle.
In fact, it is because of the woman’s menstrual cycle that any of us are even alive today. That menstrual blood should be revered, as it once was millennia ago, rather than held in contempt. Sadly, women believe it when they are told they are somehow “unclean” when on their periods.
I was elated to read that a VICE photo series by photographer Emma Arvida Bystrom, entitled, “There Will Be Blood,” is challenging that silly taboo.
According to an article entitled, “Menstruation Taboo Challenged by VICE ‘There Will Be Blood’ Series” in the Huffington Post, “The series depicts women going about various everyday activities, like jogging, reading, texting and waiting for the bus. The photographs aren’t sexual, they’re nearly mundane … except that each woman is bleeding through her clothing — something that has probably happened to most women — some more than once.”
I went straight to vice.com to see the photo series and was elated that there are women who really do get it – we are not icky like we have been made to believe. (To see the blood in all its glory for yourself; the photo series can be found at http://www.vice.com/en_au/read/there-will-be-blood)
Women have long been burdened with our presumed icky-ness. We’ve been bogged down with guilt for being unclean and impure for no other reason than biological functions. It is time to free ourselves of this archaic hogwash. We are not impure. We are the bearers of life! Without our beautiful blood, humanity would cease to exist.
Yes, there will be blood and that blood will continue to flow like it has for ages and generations.
This wondrous event is not something to scorn because the day that blood dries up is the day humanity dies. Therefore, a woman’s period should be a time of celebration of the miracle of life.
How did things get so turned around that women are made to feel embarrassed by their periods? Women sneak around to buy sanitary napkins hoping no one sees them or hide their tampons in their sleeves as they go to the bathroom.
This is all wrong. It might be a private thing, but it is not an icky thing. That blood represents the power of procreation.
The truth is that some men want women to think they are icky just by being born in the first place. There are countries where baby girls are killed just because they are female. In some countries women are bought and sold like cattle. It is no wonder that even in Western countries women still feel the stigma of the not too distant past history when our Sisters in other parts of the world still suffer so greatly.
This perceived icky-ness of women is so wrong and immoral. Women should be honoured and revered for their place in procreation. They should be free to be female and proud of it.
Women have been held back (put in their place) for so long that it has hurt the human race. Making women feel guilty for sex, or for their periods or even for just being born (all ways of holding women back) is counterproductive to the overall good of humanity.
It is time for women to take their rightful place in society. It seems I have made that last statement a million times over, but I will continue saying it until it becomes reality. The longer it takes for women to find a way to reject these ridiculous ideologies that promote female icky-ness, the longer the human race will continue to suffer from the gender imbalanced approach to global leadership.
To be more specific, until women are leading the world, side-by-side with the men, there will most certainly be blood, and it should not continue to be the blood of death and murder, but the life-giving blood of women. Until women step in and demand an end to the wars and the violence and find peaceful ways of resolving conflict, the human race will continue on the destructive path it has been on for so long.
I am not the least bit offended at the blood of a woman’s menstrual cycle. That blood of life is beautiful. What offends me is blood shed in violence.
That blood signifies wasted life and the brutality of a male-only led world. If anything is impure, unclean or icky, it is the unchecked savagery of the male ego and the lengths to which he will go to conquer and rule.