Don’t bore with the gore: why we need to stop talking about periods

    2 March 2016

    We need to stop talking about periods. Period. They’re a topic up there with climate change — because, let’s face it, no one wants to hear about that either.

    But hear about them, you will! Just yesterday I was doing a perfectly good job of minding my own business when I was advertised a ‘period package’.

    It’s no surprise this product came into fruition: periods have become big business, with a constant wave of news stories about them. This week there was the tale of a Bristol firm offering time off for menstruating women, and a new iPhone app to get us discussing periods. Women’s magazines are littered with faux-sisterly articles on the subject. They’re meant to be reassuring, but often they make me want to climb into a corner and wave a little red flag. It’s not just men who don’t want to find out about other people’s periods, it’s me too! Women too!

    In fact, if all the news about periods was a period I would grab a tampon and put a massive stop to it. I might be able to obtain such an instrument from my period package — which you’ve probably been wondering about.

    It’s a practical set of items to help a woman survive menstruation, for only £7.95 a month. According to the period package — romantically titled the ‘Pink Parcel’ — to get through a menstrual cycle you need teabags, a pendant, eye make-up remover and mascara — as well as tampons. Where are the painkillers and wine, you ask. Not there, my friend. Not there.

    This product is the final confirmation that the world has gone bleedin’ mad. Are periods the new PR? Perhaps. In fact, I am surprised that no actress at the Oscars used them to her advantage. If only Brie Larson had cried and said as she accepted her Best Actress award: ‘Thank you, I’m on my period.’ The claps that might have ensued.

    Sure, no woman enjoys her period. And throughout history it has been a taboo topic, so it’s nice that society is finally acknowledging it as a biological process.

    But it’s gone too far. There is now too much talking about menstruation. It’s even seen as feminist to go into great detail about your period, although you’re mostly just giving ideas to companies about how to exploit your bodily functions (see Pink Parcel).

    With all this honesty about periods, we’re not being honest about periods. They’re ugly. They’re functional. And — quite simply — they don’t make interesting conversation. They’re not even — as is often put — traumatic; for many of us simply a monthly nuisance, like council tax. So do we really need period packages? Constant societal dialogue? Days off work?

    Probably not. Any more than someone needs public support for three-day diarrhoea, or any other mildly inconveniencing bodily function. Periods will never be made better through over-analysis — I frequently feel depressed rather than empowered when I read the latest column about a woman’s period. Because hers will be the most interesting in the world.

    Sometimes we’d be better to accept this part of our anatomy without packaging it up as something more socially significant. And most certainly, we should not bore with the gore.