The Blood Talk | Rahmat Rashid | [email protected]

most girls that I know have had the same experience as me with a creepy boy from your class trying to slide in on your DMS so for me the story was as expected pretty standard up until I mentioned to the guy that I was on my period so he asked when is your period finishing it wasn't the question I was expecting but nonetheless I said Wednesday he said don't talk to me until Wednesday to this day it's still one of the funniest things that has happened to me because of my period as you can probably tell I haven't been shy talking about my period for quite a long time in fact quite a lot of people have asked me why it is I talk about my period with such frequency and volume if you're an annoying person such as myself you know that any question starting with a Y can be answered with a why not as someone who was very experienced we're talking about periods I was very interested in the why not which is why I decided to start my own little survey I called it the period Paul because it seemed very clever to me at the time and what I did is that I sent a link to this Google Form that I made up in five minutes to almost to so many people I sent it to everyone on both mine and my sisters contact lists so I understood what networking was and it was horrible so one thing that I learned from the period Paul that really surprised me is that many males especially ones that I weren't expecting seem to have attitudes I wasn't expecting first before I get into that let me tell you what sort of things I asked on the period Paul the major question I asked is on a scale of one to five how comfortable are you with talking about periods one being completely comfortable talking about periods and five being completely uncomfortable talking about periods many males especially ones that I wasn't expecting answered with scores from one up to three completely comfortable with talking about periods up until the mid even ones that I weren't expecting seemed completely comfortable talking about periods the guy who told me not to talk to him until my period was finished he replied to my Paul with a 1 I'm actually surprised to even open the link because it had the words period Paul right over there I thought you might like faint as soon as he fought it but and many of the answers that were 3 to 5 that is mostly uncomfortable with talking about periods were from women now before I get into my hypothesis about that why that shocked me and why I think that it might be first let me get into the reasons that people gave for not talking about their period the first most cited reason that people gave was modesty or possible embarrassment before I actually started the qualitative the quantitative research that is gathering my data as a whole one up to five my pretty little pie charts that I made up first I asked a few of my friends I asked one of my friends whether she talks to any guys about her period she said yes but only if she feels like they'll be comfortable with it if not she never mentions it to them at all I asked another one of my friends she said there's one particular guy she never talks to about her period because she knows that he's going to make a dirty joke out of it I asked another one of my friends she said something that summed up a lot of women's misgivings was talking about periods including my own as of late though it may not seem that way she said that I don't want some boy to know that I'm on my period because he's going to think it's awkward and he's going to use it to explain away my behavior like if I'm irritated it has nothing to do with anything he did it has nothing to do with his behavior it has everything to do with the fact that I am on my period modesty empowers those women who choose it as empowerment I am a Muslim woman I'm wearing the hijab in front of you right now you can see that I'm also a teenager so I very much understand the appeal of not being embarassed it I still happen to get embarrassed quite a lot but I understand the appeal of not being embarrassed but there comes a time where the line between modesty and mass martyrdom starts to blur and that becomes especially apparent when we don't talk about something that affects half of the population sure we may not want to talk about our own experiences we may believe that it's fine for us to make our personal sacrifices because that's just what being a woman is in this society and that's a whole nother thing but there's a point where when you don't talk about something you're sacrificing not just for yourself but on behalf of everybody else who is experiencing it especially when some of those people can't even talk about it for themselves which is exactly why we need to know part of the human experience with it with as big an impact that is that affects so many people as menstruation should be ignored and erased from human history just because of our modesty that is when it becomes mass martyrdom the second most frequent reason that people gave for not talking about periods was religious or traditional expectations most if not all religions in this world talk about humanitarian values they encourage us to be humane so talking about something that affects half of the population for example periods in order to bring awareness to the issue surrounding it for example social ostracization and you know general sexism isn't something is something that seems very much part of humanitarian values it's bringing awareness to an issue that affects a lot of people this isn't some new revolutionary concept that I sprang out of my mind because I've been to walks where the entire purpose is collecting money and raising awareness for a certain cause it's collecting money and raising awareness so that people are talking about something so a solution can be found there's so many different things like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in an elephant costume to raise awareness about climate change that's a thing that people actually do and this is the thing that we should be doing to to raise awareness about something so besides that the other humanitarian aspect of talking about your period as far as religion is concerned is that you're giving someone else the chance to do good or in the case you're not the person having the period you're telling the other person that it's ok I will help you I'm not disgusted by you I don't think you're an emotional wreck just because you have a few hormones in your blood I think that I can help you and if you're the one who has a period you're giving someone else the chance to help you and if that isn't part of humanitarian values then just shoot me in the brain cuz I don't know what is anymore moving on from the humanitarian values part instead let's get into the historical value of it all and this works even if you're not religious all religious political ideological revolutions in this in the world they have something some person some story that personifies their struggle where this person is trying to spread their message divine or otherwise and this person is always met with some pushback some resistance from their community this is because it seems that back then being humane was controversial sometimes it seems like it still is however it doesn't seem like there is a religion alive that has part of its history and part of its DNA to tell people to shut up and sit down about what's important moving on the third most cited reason people gave for not talking about their periods and the last one I'll be talking about for today is that they don't believe it's important to talk about in general our generation is socialized to believe our problems aren't important to talk about we're told that if we do talk about problems we're being entitled and lazy and we want everything handed to us on a silver platter with a silver spoon in our mouth like we're the Queen's children but and this is even more enforced for both sides of the gender spectrum because even if you're a guy there's a whole strong and silent type which honestly is such a turn-off and then there's there's also for the women the whole new trope of a strong independent woman who don't need no man which honestly is patriarchy's last attempt at getting you to shut up so in general we're told that our problems aren't important that we should just shut up about our problems and stop being so entitled so for argument's sake let's say that I'm entitled let's say I'm a whiny little brat I'm sure there are many people who would agree and let's also say the women who are fighting against the tampon tax are also entitled a luxury tax imposed upon a necessary sanitary item that someone needs if they are if they have a healthy reproductive cycle you're being told basically that the fact that you have blood coming out of your month out of your vagina once a month the fact that you have a healthy working reproductive system is a luxury and you should be thankful for it by paying extra for tampons for argument's sake let's say that make that those women fighting against making a necessity more affordable are also entitled instead let's talk about somebody different there are girls in our own continent who missed several days of school a month because they're on their periods these girls miss the while miss school while so much money is being funneled into public education in Africa from other states as well as our own these girls are being socially ostracized from their families and there are communities at such a critical time in their social development any woman here if you can remember what it was like the first time you got your period and the emotions you went through during that and imagine being told that you can't be with anyone at that time you have to be alone and not talk to anyone because you are dirty and unclean that's what these girls go through as young as nine years old these girls also don't have access to the same kinds of things that we do they don't have access to painkillers they do not have access to sanitary items such as pads and tampons they don't have the luxury of paying extra for a tampon and for most of their lives they do not have access to even running water there are women who get infected with a very high chance of dying because the cloth that they use and the other materials that they use to soak up their blood while they're on their period they can never clean it out properly they can never wash it out in the stream they can never put it on a line to dry out properly because no one can ever see it they can't let anyone see it because they can't let anybody know that blood comes out of their uterus is once a month their education their health and their lives are being endangered they do not sound entitled to me so if I cannot speak up on behalf of someone who doesn't have the same privileges as myself what is the point of me having my privilege we need to start talking about periods which is exactly why we need to start talking about our own periods conversation to give you a few case studies first in case you think that maybe I should just stop talking about the vaginas and the blood and the uterus is for a while instead let's talk about rape conversations and education about consent and sexual harassment is what brought along the me2 movement it will help to wring the small light out on rape culture it's what a voice of empowerment to victims education and conversation about safe sex and contraception is what helped look is what helped fight against the global HIV epidemic this is what Princess Diana was fighting for to remove the stigma sir the harmful stigma surrounding an issue so we can actually talk about it so we can actually find a solution for it instead of just not talking about it we need to talk about periods we need to normalize education and conversation about periods so that we as a global society can get can just get rid of our harmful stigmas attached to the menstrual cycle in general what I'm saying is that we need to talk about periods so the world can get over themselves when it comes to women's bodies so let me go back to what it was about the period Paul the whole about how most people are apparently completely comfortable with talking about periods if most people are comfortable talking about periods why aren't these conversations happening or are these conversations happening but just not making any actual progress this is where I come to the hypothesis that maybe just maybe all conversations about menstruation aren't equal for example what I mean by this is that a conversation about periods shouldn't be somebody blaming periods for somebody being emotional or having emotions because it turns out that someone can have emotions without being fueled entirely by hormones and blood coming out of you it's actually possible another thing is that conversations of our periods also shouldn't turn into a dirty joke because it turns out that as we all know hopefully that a vagina was hardly made just for having sex with a man talking about periods is how we're going to help these people who are in a disadvantaged who are in a disadvantaged position just for the virtue of the fact that they were born with a working menstrual system so if you think that this is something that people need to talk about and there's something that you can do there is if you get your period talk about it be unapologetic about it do not shut up about your period in case a guy comes sliding into your DMS and he asks what you're doing say well I'm bleeding out my vagina right now but how's your day going if you do not get your period and you never will then there's something that I do ask you to check your reactions when people do talk about your periods and when you do that please remember that the periods aren't about you they're about humanity both of the people and the values thank you [Applause]

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