Hypocritical Expectations of Women: how patriarchy devalues women’s private parts – menstruation and public breastfeeding

Pre-script: I actually had no intentions of writing about menstruation any time soon on my blog, although I’ve thought about doing so, as I discussed here. But being disgusted with the way that Instagram responded to Rupi Kaur’s photo of a menstruating woman, I decided to do this. If anyone’s disgusted by it, shame on them.

Take a look at this quote by Nizar Qabbani, the amazing Arab (male) poet who died in 1988: “Woman does not emerge from a11052510_10153027754478941_1793920799096887428_n man’s rib, not ever; it’s he who emerges from her womb.” I saw it on a friend’s wall on Facebook with this commentary at the bottom: “One of the greatest lies of patriarchy is claiming[/]framing the father as the lifegiver.” Image on the right.

Then a while later, I saw this quote attributed to Betty White, the amazing 93-year-old actress: “Why do people say ‘grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina.” (I’d add, “That’s where the entirety of humanity comes from” (as most can/do) instead of the original “those things take a pounding.”)

The purpose of the following post is to point out how patriarchy attempts to elevate men, manhood, masculinity, and male private parts, and (because none of this elevation holds any real value or truth,) it does so by devaluing women, femininity, womanhood, and female private parts. Specifically, it devalues female private parts when 1) they don’t appeal to expected and perceived (heterosexual) male sexual fantasies of women, and 2) we women use our private parts for their biological function(s). The examples I’ll give are of menstruation, when men and the public are reminded that (most) women actually menstruate, and of public breastfeeding,  which the public condemns and demands that we “cover up” while posters and photos of women’s breasts are all around them as they express this condemnation. This is another classic moment of patriarchy in action. And another reason to kill patriarchy as soon as possible. And another reason we need feminism.

So, before I came across these quotes, I’d never thought about either of the points. But I’ve got my own problems with the whole “grow some balls” piece of crap, and it’s always bothered me that women and even men are told to grow some balls, and the metaphor is supposed to indicate bravery, strength, etc. And just generally any suggestion that men are better than women, or even stronger than women, and so if you wanna be taken seriously or be valued or be considered good enough, try to be like a man. No, thank you. I’m a woman, and I will not allow anyone and anything — especially men and patriarchy — to link femininity and/or womanhood with weakness. Think about Betty’s quote: why would I, a woman, at all be wanting to grow some balls when balls are so sensitive whereas the vagina is literally the vehicle through which humanity is born. (And don’t be petty and say, “But the vagina wouldn’t be able to give birth if it weren’t for the sperm in the balls!” Oh, please.  Like that’s all there is to birth. Like creating sperm requires strength. (P.S. This is not at all to make a mockery of men who are unable to produce sperm. I’m pointing to the patriarchy of popular  claims that have devalued the worth of women’s bodies.) If childbirth and pregnancy are not (physical, mental, emotional) strength, I don’t know what is. And why would I, a woman who will/may/might be giving birth one day and contributing to the continuation of humanity, believe this very obviously false claim that I came from a man’s rib when he came from me? (Not to digress too much here, but there’s no evidence in Islam that Hawa, Adam’s wife, came from Adam’s ribs. The Qur’an doesn’t support this claim at all, as it says that all humans, with no exception and including Adam and Hawa, were created from “the same / a single nafs (‘soul’),” in verse 4:1.)

Menstruation as something ugly, dirty, “inappropriate”

Now, plenty of women on social media have been working to reclaim their period and remind humanity that their period or menstruation in general is not something dirty, something ugly, something shameful. But given the misogynist history of menstruation, this view of menstruation as something ugly and dirty and disgusting isn’t going to away any time soon. I might eventually write more on menstruation from religious and patriarchal cultural standpoints, especially the Islamic feminist standpoint, but for now, you can read something by my friend Metis that I’ve enjoyed here. (I reject its use of the word “primitive,” but other than that, the information is great.) Here’s another one, by another friend of mine, The Fatal Feminist.

The latest case of menstruation’s being viewed as something disgusting and inappropriate (LOL @ this – seriously, LOL!!!) was this: Rupi Kaur, a college senior and a poet, posted the photo you see on your left to Instagram, and Instagram removed it, claiming it violates their policy (?!). She posted it again because she argued that it does not violate any of Instagram policies. Instagram removed it again, despite, as she says, the incredible amount of support she was receiving from social media users and they condemned Instagram for their misogyny of viewing the blood of menstruation as something filthy and inappropriate for popular viewing. Instagram apologized claiming that it was all a mistake (again, LOL). You can read about all this, including Rupi’s messages to Instagram, here – and everywhere else on the internet.

When patriarchy is hit with the fact that women aren’t the objects it pretends we are and attempts to mold us into – and that most of us bleed once a month

It is beyond shameful that Instagram initially removed Rupi’s photo TWICE – only because of the most natural thing most women go through. Because patriarchy imagines women as dolls and objects, when it’s reminded that most of us actually menstruate, it’s disgusted and angered because this reminder, this more real image of (most – or many) women as actual humans disrupts the false image they’ve formulated of women. Women would rather been seen as these objects, a creation of and for men’s fantasies as something that would rather not produce fluids at all but if it absolutely must, those fluids must be to advantage men — and apparently, menstruation does not benefit men at all.

Anything that has to do with women’s private parts *when it doesn’t objectify their private parts, doesn’t display them as a source of sexual pleasure for men* is simply disgusting. Especially when it’s to do with childbirth. And I think the comment below emphasizes this point beautifully:

“Not to mention, if I were to post a photo of me having fallen off a motorcycle with blood all over my jeans, no one would care, because that blood didn’t come out of (gasp) a vagina.”

Exactly! Because the photo of a menstruating woman has to do with the woman’s private parts in a way that does not recognize, advance, or respond to men’s sexual fantasies, to this false image that women are objects created solely for men’s pleasure. In other words, it intervenes in the patriarchal effort to dehumanize women as much as possible, and menstruation reminds them that, oh shit, the menstruating woman is a human after all; what do we do with her now, goddamnit?!

Also, just FYI: Patriarchy also sensationalizes rape, especially in movies; to it, rape is not disgusting, but childbirth and menstruation? Ew, grrrross! (You can read about the sensationalization of rape in the media here; there are books on this subject as well. Google “sensationalizing rape” to find several stuff on it.)

Public breastfeeding and hypocritical expectations of women

We see the same thing with breastfeeding: If a woman chooses to, or has to, breastfeed in public, she faces shame and condemnation. What’s inconsistent here, by the way, is that it’s usually the nipple that’s supposed to be covered, even in public nude photos of women; the whole breast can show, but the nipple shouldn’t. (Speaking of which, did you know that in the DVD version of the movie The Notebook, the film producers and directors discuss how they had to cover Rachel McAdams’s breasts with plastic, people, plastic in the sex scene between her and Ryan Gosling? What’s the point?) Yet, as the image on the right shows, when a woman’s breastfeeding and her nipple is obviously covered by the baby’s face, women are still told to cover while breastfeeding. What the hell for?!  But, of course, it’s absolutely all right, completely acceptable to see women’s breasts in public posters, ads, commercials, magazines, and so on. Why? Again, because in hypocrisy of breastfeedingsuch contexts, they’re entirely catering to male pleasure. In other words, men are so important, women, that you’re not allowed to use your breasts for the biological functions they serve; if their function is anything other than servicing (heterosexual) men, satisfying male ego, male desire, patriarchy, then you’re not using your breasts, or your whole body, right.

Note to myself

Trust no business, no individual, no community, no religion, no culture, no civilization,no enterprise, no nation and anything else that tells you that menstruation is something dirty, disgusting, a source of shame for women, and that it makes you unclean, impure, untouchable. (This actually includes deities, too, okay? Trust none of them if they want you to keep away from them and sacred spaces while you’re menstruating; they don’t deserve your worship and devotion ever, if they can’t welcome you while you’re going through something as natural as menstruation.) Especially when such comments come from hypocrites who are perfectly okay with the sexualization of women in the media, who enjoy porn, who view women’s bodies (especially sexual parts) as a site of entertainment.

Next time someone attempts to shame you by telling you to grow some balls, tell them to grow a vagina (and a uterus and everything else (most) women have) because why would you wish something as sensitive and weak as balls on yourself when you can wish for the strength of the vagina?

P.S. I say all of the above, including the part about the hypocrisy of shaming women into covering up while nursing, without disregarding women’s choice to show or cover as much skin as they’d like or as they believe is important. The misogyny of the porn and entertainment industries aside, when I condemn patriarchy’s hypocrisy of telling women to cover up in public when nursing while women’s naked breasts are flashing left and right on posters for men to enjoy, I’m not at all saying that I have no respect for the women in those images or the women whose breasts are not covered. This entire post is about misogynistic and unreal expectations of women, not about women’s choice to reveal or cover as much or as little skin as they’d like.

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About Orbala

I want it to rain on my wedding day, pliss.
This entry was posted in being human, Death to patriarchy, feminism, forbidden things, gender, I can't believe this needs to be said out loud, Just stop, society, stop using the word shame, why we need feminism, your face is haraam and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Hypocritical Expectations of Women: how patriarchy devalues women’s private parts – menstruation and public breastfeeding

  1. hassan says:

    Wonderful blog, Orbalay, keep it up.

    Like

    • orbala says:

      Why, thank you, Hassan!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Patriarchy in my opinion stems from the inferiority complexes in man, and this in turn he knowingly and unknowingly tries to cover up by impressing himself as superior to woman in a variety of life’s facets……

      Like

    • orbala says:

      @ Iqbal: I agree – I, too, believe patriarchy stems from an inferiority complex. The whole claim of viewing men’s private parts as more superior to women’s is hilarious proves it, too. Many other examples, too. Like associating emotions with women and claiming that’s inferior but then seeing men’s anger as perfectly natural and acceptable and not associating anger (or violence) to emotion. Women’s emotions have rarely caused conflict; men’s emotions destroy worlds and lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. orbala says:

    Dotaxed, your comment was deleted, and from now, all of your comments will be deleted before I can even read them, so I would suggest you stop wasting your time commenting. You’re such a waste.

    And also, I know all the other names you’ve used on my blog to comment (CattleBruiser, League of Paterson, Neander Valley, Maajin Buu, Clamato Yanon – lolz, all are such dumb, attention-seeking names, by the way). Don’t think you can fool me – I know it was also you who wrote that “Orbala, let’s talk sexy” comment. Shame on you, you pathetic piece of shit. You bring shame to the whole idea of Pukhtunistan, and I laugh every time you say “Pashtunistan zindabad.” It’s a dishonor to Pashtunistan that someone as low as you is dreaming for a Pashtunistan. I would be ashamed to work with you for the success of my people.

    Like

  3. angry woman says:

    I cannot believe that after reading your post a logged in on FB and saw women saying ‘menstruation Is Gross’ referring to the same image that was removed from instagram twice. Because i’m an almost full time hermit I couldn’t believe that people (women) think like that. As I think I pointed out in one of my previous comments I believe those that reproduce patriarchal practices and ideas (of breasts, of beauty, of menstruation) are more often women themselves… this made me also think about how we don’t speak openly and without feeling embarrassed about natural functions of the body (menstruation being one of them). My 4 year old daughter asked why I bleed from there and I explained why. Why should I hide it from her? I am wondering this because my mum never really explained things properly to me, I wasn’t taught so much in school and I recently came across some sisters whose daughters are reaching puberty, and they mentioned they were going to ‘have that conversation’ with their daughters. I thought, what? In 9-10 years of your daughters life you’ve not come across that topic yet?

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    • orbala says:

      I never had a talk about menstruation from any of the women in my life, either! I did know such a thing existed, but I never knew how the blood came about, or exactly where from or even what it looked and felt like. My first period, I cried because I had no idea what was happening, and I ran in a panic to my mom, who lovingly told me this was my period and I’m now a woman and I’ll be getting this every month. I grew up to seeing women crying out in pain each month during their period, to women insulting each other when they developed breasts (this image of women mocking young girls who had just developed breasts will never get out of my head), to women insulting young girls who had matured into menstruating women by making indirect signals about the fact that they now bled. So I grew up thinking it was a disgusting, terrifying, miserable, painful (that, it indeed is, goddamnit!), shameful thing to happen – and a punishment, something that other women would now be using against me.

      My 5-year-old niece, Kashmala, learned about pads when she was 4 because one of the people closest to her in her life (someone other than me) was once changing her pad in front of Kashmala and Kashmala asked her what she was doing. So she now knows that some women use pads when menstruating. My own reaction when I found out that Kashmala knew about period was one of discomfort, and I confronted the person who’d told her about periods. This person asked why I was bothered, which was a good question. I remember thinking, wait, why am I distressed that this little girl knows about period from such a young age? She still isn’t gonna understand it until it actually happens to her, and why am I thinking that this is traumatizing, ruining her childhood?! And this is me hardly a couple of years ago …
      It’s important that we let girls know that there’s nothing wrong, nothing ugly, nothing bad, nothing shameful about getting their period. I’m slowly realizing and learning how important it to talk about it openly with everyone so that people stop seeing it as something dirty and shameful, as though women should be ashamed of it.

      Thank you for reading and for commenting! 🙂 I saw some comments on Rupi’s Instagram photo, and some of the women, too, were saying, “EW! This is a disgusting picture! TAKE IT OFF, TAKE IT OFF NOW!”
      We’ve internalized misogyny to the point where we are disgusted with our own bodies and can’t respect another woman’s choice to not see her body as a site of shame and disgust.

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  4. Yes, well, but what about the rule that a Muslim woman is forbidden to pray & fast while on her period?

    A long time ago I did try to pray & fast on my period (I was a Quranist back then), but it just didn’t work out, since the loss of blood made me thirsty & the cramps made it painfull for me to do sojood.

    So now I don’t pray or fast on my period, but I do visit mosques and sometimes read the Quran. (Remember the hadith in which the prophet pbuh told Aisha that it was ok for her to touch the Quran while on her period, because “she didn’t menstruate with her hands”?)

    Something which also determines my relationship with menstruation are the practices surrounding it in the Afro-Surinamese community.

    I am Afro-Surinamese, and Afro-Surinamese women don’t cook when on their period, because sauces, mayonaise etc. go bad when they do it. (I also thought this was nonsense, but I experienced it quite a few times)

    So many Afro-Surinamese men don’t eat food cooked by a menstruating woman. (Some of them even get rashes when they, by accident, do it anyway.

    A woman who menstruates is also considered unclean in Winti (literally “wind” or “jinn/spirit”), an Afro-Surinamese shamanist based religion. She is also not allowed to participate in rituals, and marroon women even sleep in different huts when on their period.

    On the bright side, when I got my first period, my grandma bought me a golden bracelet. Within our culture, it’s costumary to give a girl a present when she gets her first period, preferably a jewel, because she’s a “big girl” now. It is seen as the start of womanhood.

    (In the old days, girls wheren’t allowed to play/talk with boys after that, because of fear for pregnancy out of wedlock)

    Something which I have also noticed, is that many Muslim women use sanitary napkins, while many non-Muslim women use tampax/tampons – ofcourse, that also has to do with the virginity thing.

    So they’re still a lot of unpacking to do……..

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    • orbala says:

      Rosalinda, that was really informative! Thank you! Do you have a blog? I tried looking but couldn’t find one – and I think sharing these ideas, especially about your Afro-Surinamese background, would be really informative for so many of us.

      It’s really sweet that your grandma gave you a bracelet when you got your first period! 🙂 In my area, women deny that their daughters have begun menstruating, especially when the girl is under 13 or 14. But by the time she reaches 15 or so, everyone brags about whose daughter started menstruating first. (This is apparently a thing in many parts of the world, too. It’s really sad, this competitiveness in whose daughter’s body is functioning “correctly” first!)

      As for Islam and menstruation and prayer:
      I don’t accept the traditional Islamic ideas about prayer and menstruation; I do not at all believe that Islam, or God, intended to tell Muslims they’re *forbidden* from praying and fasting while menstruating. I instead believe that it was that they’re *exempt* from it, that they’re not *obligated* to partake in these rituals. Which I think is a great thing because the pressure to pray and fast while you’re bleeding and most probably paining at least in the first couple of days would make a person very resentful and angry. Of course, since most religions and cultures have made women feel unwelcome, uninvited, and completely dirty and impure during their period, it’s unlikely that Islam would have thought of it any differently –and by “Islam,” I mean those who framed Islamic law, those who interpreted Islam for us (and let’s face it, they were entirely men; no, I don’t think hadiths supposedly narrated by women/the Prophet’s wives but preserved by men count as “women’s contribution to Islamic law”). But I think there’s room within Islam–and I don’t doubt in all other religions, when studied from women’s perspectives–for us to eradicate the claim that women are impure and unwanted by God in sacred spaces when menstruating.

      So since I don’t believe that I’m not *allowed* to pray or fast during my period, or that menstruation invalidates my prayers or fasts, I pray especially while I’m on my period; this is when I take my prayers most seriously. I don’t buy into this whole “No, it’s invalidated” business. These are men telling me when my prayers are accepted by God and when they’re not. There are claims that when a menstruating woman joins a congregation during prayer, she invalidates the prayers of EVERYONE else in the congregation. This is another form of misogyny in action; this is BS, and I reject it entirely. It’s offensive on all levels, and I don’t trust anyone who believes this.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I am not as taboo-ic about menstruation as many born Muslim women, who refer to it as “illness” and jump through hoops to hide the fact that they’re not fasting when they’re on their period.

    However, my first thought on the intuition level when seeing this picture was/is “Take it down, you’re flaunting something which is supposed to be private and yes, menstruation blood is unclean – just like blood flowing from a wound is.”

    This is still mainly my point of view, but it’s everybodys freedom to think, live & act differently.

    And yes, the patriarchal hypocrisy sucks.

    I have absolutely no problem with public breastfeeding, though.

    Like

    • orbala says:

      This is a perspective I have espoused before, that because menstruation is something so personal, so intimate, so private, it shouldn’t be even discussed in public or with others let alone for your bleeding photos to be shared on the internet for public viewing to make a point. But then I started wondering why I viewed menstruation as something private in the first place – and if just because I view it this way, others should, too. Of course, all women have a different relationship with their period, and mine is still such that I wouldn’t be comfortable posting a picture of myself menstruating or even letting it be known on the internet that I’m on my period. But especially because Rupi’s purpose was to get people to ask themselves why they’re uncomfortable, if disgusted as well, with the idea of a woman’s period being seen in public – and then linking this disgust, this discomfort to the overall expectation we have of women to just please not remind us that you bleed because ew – I think that even I would participate in the project if she were calling for more women to do it.

      So, yeah, I’d ask why the period is “something that’s supposed to be private.”

      Also, the blood of menstruation is not like regular blood, and it’s not comparable to the blood of a wound. So much about menstrual blood is different from regular blood, including its texture, composition, etc. I’m not sure how willing I’d be to believe that shedding of my uterine lining is actually a wound. In fact, if anything, while most wounds would indicate some kind of unhealthiness, however temporary, menstruation actually indicates healthiness for most women. This is also why I don’t accept the comparison of menstrual blood to regular blood when Muslims tell me, “But you’re NOT ALLOWED to pray! Just like your wudhu breaks when you bleed in other part of your body, your wudhu is constantly breaking while you’re menstruating.” I’m like, “Uh, no. That’s not the same thing at all; that blood is not the same thing.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for your swift replies Orbala! I’m now in the middle of studying for an exam, but will get back as soon as I have time to breathe……lol. Wa salam and have a good week. 🙂

    Like

  7. As someone said before “Women are claimed to be delicate and fragile yet I never seen something so hurt more than a man’s ego”

    And there is a reason why there is a cup for atheletes for their balls. Having bigger balls = more prone to danger.

    Like

  8. orbala says:

    Something tells me you just wanted to use that language and thought this this post was an invitation for you to do so. It wasn’t. But I’m letting your comment publish and I’m responding because this is important and I hope it educates at least one person (preferably a man) about the reality of female orgasm.

    Have you ever heard of female orgasm? Female ejaculation? And did you know that women, too, and not just men, have “cum” (I hate this word – never use it again on my territory)? If you didn’t know this before, you should now. This is serious, and because of most men’s refusal to acknowledge the reality of female orgasm, or perhaps their honest ignorance, so many women are sexually dissatisfied. And patriarchy tells us this is because women naturally don’t want sex as much as men do. Women would/do want it, too, when their partners satisfy them sufficiently.

    So, yeah, semen and menstrual blood are not comparable by any stretch of a man’s sexist and lacking imagination. Not to mention … no one responds to male ejaculation the same way that they do to menstrual blood. Think of porn, for example. How many categories of porn can one find of menstrual blood, compared to of ejaculation?

    I’m appalled you made this comparison. Absolutely appalled.

    P.S. No one asked you what you think of the period picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • snpeterson says:

      Exactly your last point! I was watching late night TV last night and saw 3 ads for ‘premature ejaculation’ which were quite explicit… yet ads for sanitary napkins and tampons still have blue ‘blood’ (smh).
      And yes fellas, women talking about periods ARE NOT an invitation for nasty talk. I for one, am carrying a tradition started by my dear Grandmother by being positive about the experience of menstruation. That it isn’t disgusting and neither are female private parts.
      And for the third point, people DO get ill from swallowing semen… hello, STI’s?

      Like

  9. Nahida says:

    @Halal Haraami

    1. Semen is not “nutritious.” You seem scientifically challenged. And no, tabloid science doesn’t count.
    2. You know what’s actually distasteful, is the fact that you submitted this comment solely to use this kind of language.
    3. Semen is not the equivalent of menstrual blood because, lo and behold, women, yes women, also produce fluids, which are far more comparable, upon sufficient arousal. I don’t expect you to know this, however, as I suspect you’ve never brought a woman to orgasm in your life.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Period is a cycle when an egg doesn’t fertilise the vagina starts to shed the menstrual blood out the labia… its the same cycle how a snake sheds out their skin. A vagina does more than a penis to go in like you know… self cleaning, fertilising egg cells, XX hormones. Ejaculation literally has no other purpose except reproduction or a sign of male arousement.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Speaking of Period … | Freedom from the Forbidden

  12. Kaliwal says:

    Reminded me of Gloria Steinem’s “If men could menstruate.”

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  13. orbala says:

    All of the following is being pasted from this link: http://www.haverford.edu/psychology/ddavis/p109g/steinem.menstruate.html

    If Men Could Menstruate
    by Gloria Steinem
    Living in India made me understand that a white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking a white skin makes people superior, even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and wrinkles.

    Reading Freud made me just as skeptical about penis envy. The power of giving birth makes “womb envy” more logical, and an organ as external and unprotected as the penis makes men very vulnerable indeed.

    But listening recently to a woman describe the unexpected arrival of her menstrual period (a red stain had spread on her dress as she argued heatedly on the public stage) still made me cringe with embarrassment. That is, until she explained that, when finally informed in whispers of the obvious event, she said to the all-male audience, “and you should be proud to have a menstruating woman on your stage. It’s probably the first real thing that’s happened to this group in years.”

    Laughter. Relief. She had turned a negative into a positive. Somehow her story merged with India and Freud to make me finally understand the power of positive thinking. Whatever a “superior” group has will be used to justify its superiority, and whatever and “inferior” group has will be used to justify its plight. Black me were given poorly paid jobs because they were said to be “stronger” than white men, while all women were relegated to poorly paid jobs because they were said to be “weaker.” As the little boy said when asked if he wanted to be a lawyer like his mother, “Oh no, that’s women’s work.” Logic has nothing to do with oppression.

    So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?

    Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event:

    Men would brag about how long and how much.

    Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day.

    To prevent monthly work loss among the powerful, Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea. Doctors would research little about heart attacks, from which men would be hormonally protected, but everything about cramps.

    Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of such commercial brands as Paul Newman Tampons, Muhammad Ali’s Rope-a-Dope Pads, John Wayne Maxi Pads, and Joe Namath Jock Shields- “For Those Light Bachelor Days.”

    Statistical surveys would show that men did better in sports and won more Olympic medals during their periods.

    Generals, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation (“men-struation”) as proof that only men could serve God and country in combat (“You have to give blood to take blood”), occupy high political office (“Can women be properly fierce without a monthly cycle governed by the planet Mars?”), be priests, ministers, God Himself (“He gave this blood for our sins”), or rabbis (“Without a monthly purge of impurities, women are unclean”).

    Male liberals and radicals, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could join their ranks if only she were willing to recognize the primacy of menstrual rights (“Everything else is a single issue”) or self-inflict a major wound every month (“You must give blood for the revolution”).

    Street guys would invent slang (“He’s a three-pad man”) and “give fives” on the corner with some exchenge like, “Man you lookin’ good!”

    “Yeah, man, I’m on the rag!”

    TV shows would treat the subject openly. (Happy Days: Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still “The Fonz,” though he has missed two periods in a row. Hill Street Blues: The whole precinct hits the same cycle.) So would newspapers. (Summer Shark Scare Threatens Menstruating Men. Judge Cites Monthlies In Pardoning Rapist.) And so would movies. (Newman and Redford in Blood Brothers!)

    Men would convince women that sex was more pleasurable at “that time of the month.” Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself, though all they needed was a good menstruating man.

    Medical schools would limit women’s entry (“they might faint at the sight of blood”).

    Of course, intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguements. Without the biological gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets, how could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics– or the ability to measure anything at all? In philosophy and religion, how could women compensate for being disconnected from the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death and resurrection every month?

    Menopause would be celebrated as a positive event, the symbol that men had accumulated enough years of cyclical wisdom to need no more.

    Liberal males in every field would try to be kind. The fact that “these people” have no gift for measuring life, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.

    And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine right-wing women agreeing to all these arguements with a staunch and smiling masochism. (“The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month”: Phyllis Schlafly)

    In short, we would discover, as we should already, that logic is in the eye of the logician. (For instance, here’s an idea for theorists and logicians: if women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn’t it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long? I leave further improvisation up to you.)

    The truth is that, if men could menstruate, the power justifications would go on and on.

    If we let them.

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  14. Samira says:

    Recently, a guy playing with my 8-year old son and setting up a mock strength contest tried to tease him: “Are you a girl?” I informed him that I was trying to raise my kids as gender-neutral as possible and that I don’t like to shame anybody with calling him or her a girl. Because there’s nothing wrong with being a girl and I don’t want my boys to perceive it like that. That they’re superior and stronger because they’re boys. While as mentioned above, girls and women do really need strength e.g. for going through what is called “labour” as the strength-requiring work per se.

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  15. 1) The picture is inappropriate in the same way that a photo of someone defecating or urinating is not okay.

    2) You said you don’t agree with classical Islamic view on prayer, fasting etc. during menstruation. The problem though is that you haven’t provided any evidence to the contrary. You’ve only stated how you want things to be…there are hadith in Bukhari, Muslim which go against you. It’s you against Bukhari….

    3) Eve was created from Adam, that is well established in Islam.

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