This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. In Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas a character gets her period for the first time in a long time after being malnourished and I cheered when I read this part of the book because when are periods ever mentioned? Most people who are born with wombs and ovaries have periods and yet there’s scarce mention of them in novels. In young adult novels we often have girls going through the time in their lives when periods are an important thing; they’re not old enough that their bodies have settled yet and I know from my own experiences that causes upset in routines. Characters go on these huge quests in fantasy books, spanning months at a time being on the road away from home comforts, but the uncomfortable shock of an unexpected period is never encountered? Give me a break.
So while I thought of this I wondered why this was so. Why do people act as if periods don’t exist? Books aren’t the only thing that don’t mention periods either, they’re rare in tv and film. Periods are a huge taboo in the world, if you have your period you are expected to not mention it and if you do you have to have some sort of weird euphemism like “the painter’s are coming”, to hide your pads or tampons in some sort of discreet way, to be completely embarassed about having your period despite it being a completely natural thing. Periods are so important as well as they help you know when something isn’t right with your body. They aren’t just used for telling if you’re pregnant, if you’re going through periods of stress they fluctuate, if you’re not eating enough they stop, they’re the natural way of telling you something isn’t right.
We have been taught that periods are a thing we should be ashamed of despite the fact that 50% of the population give or take are affected by them and is something we can’t control. This has clearly translated into book and other media. Authors don’t want to talk about periods, for fear that their readers will be squicked out, or even because it freaks them out themselves. I honestly just find the whole uncomfort surrounding periods absolutely ridiculous and I’m all for it being openly talked about and mentioned. If kids who experience periods were to read about them or watch people experiencing them on tv then they wouldn’t be so stressed out about them like I know I was at that age.
I tried to use non gendered terms in this post but if I missed anything let me know.