You’d be surprised to know how many men grow up not understanding what periods are,
how the body changes when menstruating and why this is normal. This because their source
of information is usually tainted by myths and misconceptions passed on for generations.
But we are entering a new age where girls and boys need to know how both bodies change during puberty, where the topic is normalised and not treated as taboo.
We’d go so far as to say the conversation needs to cover the basics of menstruation’s biology and be more inclusive to have a non-gendered language that includes all those who menstruate.
Misinformation starts early.
Many times, misogyny begins at a young age and is rife with falsehoods. Young boys overhear or might even be told that periods are messy, an embarrassment, and menstruate smell funny, act irritable and impatient and more importantly – are weak. In impoverished societies, the onus of learning anything about periods is squarely on young girls and women who might not have any access to reliable information. Boys are taught that this is not their problem at all.
This is why girls and boys need reliable information when it comes to periods. They need to know and understand what it means, and the learning to be sympathetic to the challenges close to half the population faces. They need to connect with the idea that periods go beyond their mothers and sisters and that all menstruates need their support, not their sniggers and name-calling.
Not just a “girls problem.”
This is not just a man’s world – we as people are a collective. As a collective, what each of us faces should be treated as something we can overcome together. For this change to happen, educators at all levels need to first agree on the importance of the subject matter themselves. Everyone from teachers to parents need to help raise young children who are better informed and sensitive to the rights of all. Making it part of the school curriculum ensures that both boys and girls grow up with a healthy attitude towards puberty, women, transgender and nonbinary people who have their period every month. Teaching it at school also ensures that they will not need to search elsewhere for answers to the many questions they have. From period sex to buying sanitary pads, hygiene and PMS, they will have a trusted source of information that will serve them well as they grow into young men.
Step by step change.
Like all large movements in history, change has often started small. Little ripples of this cause need to become a tidal wave of RED for people to sit up and take notice. Instead of despising the roller coaster of feelings about this monthly occurrence, the dialogue needs to repeatedly tell boys it’s normal, natural and as necessary as the changes that take place in their own body.
Changemakers – you can be one too!
P&G Whisper, in collaboration with Network18, is hoping to get the right wheels in motion with the #PeriodOfPride campaign. The campaign’s whole point is to normalise ‘period talk’ and quash the numbers that tell us 1 out of 5 girls drop out of school as they have no clue what to do when they get their first period. More importantly, they want to increase safety and hygiene awareness by introducing Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) at the school level. This is critical for both genders. Bringing boys and men into this conversation right from the start will open their eyes to the right and wrong ways of talking about it and dealing with those who are menstruating with sensitivity and care.
Can you imagine an India where the smallest and most remote schools including menstrual education for the impressionable children of the 6th, 7th and 8th standard? Knowledge is power, and generations armed with this knowledge can help make the world a safer place for menstruate.
It’s time to help build a generation of boys and men that associates periods with strength rather than shame, to look at the world as one human collective that is equally deserving. You can be part of this too. Join this endeavour and sign the petition to the HRD Ministry – to include Period Education as a part of the school curriculum.
Sign the petition by filling your details at www.periodofpride.com or by giving a missed call on 9999-671-283 to pledge your support. Help make a change!
This is a partnered post.