It is appalling how ill-informed some men still are about menstruation when it's a biological process that about half the population experiences at reproductive age.
It often boggles my mind how little some men know — or bother to know — about menstruation when it's a phenomenon that about half the population experiences at reproductive age. Despite decades-long efforts to raise awareness about this biological process, it continues to be surrounded by varying degrees of stigma, silence, and shame in many contexts across the world. As a result of this apparent lack of education or pure ignorance, those who menstruate find themselves paying a heavy price for it; both in terms of the cost of period products (which most of our leaders still refuse to see as a basic necessity) and uncomfortable situations at the workplace.
One woman who found herself having the "Periods aren't a luxury" talk with her boss one day, turned to the internet to share the ordeal and it is horrifying how ill-informed he — a middle-aged married state representative — was about menstruation. Recounting the incident on Tumblr, she wrote: "Once I worked as an intern in the state capital. One of the representatives I worked for was this middle-aged guy. And he hated the tampon and napkin machines in the women's bathrooms. Hated them. He insisted that they weren't necessary."
"I found out why after I'd been working there, oh, about a month. My period started suddenly, as it sometimes does, and I asked to excuse myself to go to the ladies' room. He wanted to know why. I told him," the woman revealed. "He started ranting about how lazy women were. How we wasted time. How we were so careless and unhygienic, and that there was no call for that. He finished by telling me that I certainly was NOT going to the ladies' room and that I was just going to sit there and work. He finished this off with a decisive nod as if I'd just been told and there could be no possible argument."
"'If I don't go,' I said in an overly patient tone, 'the blood is going to soak through my pants, stain my new skirt that I just bought, and possibly get on this chair I'm sitting in. I need something to soak up the blood. That's why I need to go to the bathroom,'" she recounted. "His face turned oatmeal-grey; an expression of pure horror spread across his face. He leaned forward and whispered, 'Wait, you mean that if you don't go, you'll just keep on bleeding? I thought that women could turn it off any time that they wanted!'"
"I thought, 'You have got to be kidding.' Several horrified whispers later, I learned that he wasn't. He actually thought a) that women could shut down the menstrual cycle at will, b) that we essentially picked a week per month to spend more time in the bathroom, i.e. to goof off, and c) that napkins and tampons were sex toys paid for by Health and Human Services," the woman explained. "I didn't know the term then, but he believed that tampons were dildos. Which was why he and a good number of his friends considered them luxuries. And that's how, at twenty, I had to give a talk on menstruation to a middle-aged married state representative who was one of my bosses. American politics, ladies and gentlemen."
As you can imagine – and probably relate to right now — other Tumblr users had some strong opinions about a middle-aged man being so ill-informed about menstruation. A netizen with the Tumblr username vampirekitty23 wrote: "I'm currently on my cycle, this was both horrifying and entertaining as sh*t to read. Horrifying because there are men who STILL believe this, and want to cut funding for female health and take away our rights. Entertaining because this middle-aged man in politics had to be taught, properly, how the female body works."