The Indelible Adventures of the Incredible Bleeding Woman
>>>Trigger Warnings: menstruation, vaginas, penises, feelings
“I hate being a woman.”*
That’s what a coworker exclaimed yesterday, holding up a bottle of Midol. Exclaimed might be too strong a word. It was more a verbal manifestation of emotion that tumbled out as she exhaled deeply, body quietly shuddering with resignation, futility, and cramps.
Instead of offering comfort or sympathy, I stood transfixed, one thought coursing furiously through my brain: I hate coincidences.
I especially hate coincidences that seem to signal the unfortunate truth that belies most stereotypes.
Women in close quarters as same-cycled harpies, their corporeal selves conspiring to relegate them to beasts governed not by reason, but by inferior biology.
You see, as it so happens, right now, I hate being a woman, too.
Fine. I don’t hate being a woman. It’s just that the plumbing leaks, which causes great strain on the pipes. This periodically gets in the way of avoidance of junk food, enjoyment of light-colored pants, and general comfortability in one’s own skin.
I don’t understand why some men shirk all mention of the almighty menstrual cycle. Your names are right there in the name – MENStrual cycle**. All men sprung from the life-giving place out of which that cycle flows. Many of you enjoy revisiting that place to this day. Yet somehow, many of you can’t hear talk of it, so easily disquieted by the presence of women no longer women, rather, strange creatures from the planet Playtex.
I don’t get that. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes it’s messy. And yes, it is a big deal to many girls and women out there. So much so, that a conversation I had with an awesome woman in my life spawned a post back in 2013, Menstruation is Just a Design Flaw.
But I don’t know why it’s such a sticky subject. Our bodies are mysterious. Why shouldn’t they be something worth talking about in everyday conversation? Aren’t people curious about how something that a woman should ostensibly be used to, as often as it happens to her, how it can still knock her off her feet? How it can stop her in her tracks, and send her prone, in bed, straddling a hot water bottle, and nuzzling a cup of tea? How she has to stay at home, wasting a perfectly good hair day because she already ruined two pairs of underwear before 10am?
I wasn’t sure whether it really mattered whether men could sympathize, empathize, or even simply not run away by the mere mention of the word tampon in conversation with all women in general. Maybe I don’t need to have this conversation with the guy next to me on the subway. Maybe all we can ask of each other is for compassion with the people we share our lives with.
So, I’m willing to offer the men in my life the same courtesy, the desire to understand the mysteries of your temples. Which is why I searched for the following explanation.
Because I care.
*My coworker did follow up to say that, “No, I don’t really hate being a woman. This is just…ugh.”
**Yes, I’m fully aware that the etymological root of the word is from the Latin for monthly. I’m crampy and mean right now and everything I say is right.