If you are anything like me, the arrival of your period signifies some level of upcoming discomfort and potential emotional instability at least for the next few days coming forward. There is often a whole lot more that might signify to you but it really depends on which place and stage you find yourself in at that time in your life.
The point is, even if you are not comfortable talking about it (potentially because you may not get one? Aka, you are a man??) you likely have a sister, wife/partner, daughter, mother who this exact thing will affect at some point in their lives, even if that time is not now. It is part of life- at least for 50% of us, right? And for a large chunk of our lives…
And as much as one part of me wants to be all ‘moon goddess’ about this shit and “I am woman” and all that crap, a large chunk of me is primarily driven by ‘fuck this shit’ mentality..
The cramps, the mood swings – “who ate my chocolate?! WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU HIDE IT?” *crying* “omg I love you- no not you – I’m talking to the chocolate!” – I am awful when I have my period, another thing I blame PCOS and hormones for… they kick my arse big time.
Thing is, I think it might be easier to go all ‘mother earth goddess’ styles if we still had this ‘red tent’ concept and celebration of menstruation and femininity and everything that comes with it. Our modern ideas of ‘hide and don’t talk about it’ with menstruation is kind of strange, if still deeply embedded.
When I was in boarding school as a young teen, there were times when people ‘synced periods’, usually dorms of girls at a time- its pheromones or something apparently. And it would be hell, a whole week sometimes of all 12 girls getting their periods at the same time – but in a way, it’s the closest I’ve been to this ‘red tent’ concept.
During that week, each dorm took more effort to do ‘self-pamper’ stuff, we did face masks and nails and all that shit while we ate junk food and watched, well probably something like Dawson’s Creek cause it was in that era.
Everyone knew each other was moody and grumpy, yes fights definitely happened especially with excessive bitchiness in a confined space – but arguments were moved on from quickly, mistakes and words in the moment more easily forgiven. Gentleness and understanding were fundamental values.
Move forward to the ‘real world’ of flatting, working, uni, travel and everything else in between and periods, menstruation, yep – bleeding, that’s what I am talking about whatever name we want to give it, we rarely just straight up talk about it especially if the forum includes the opposite sex.
In those times, it is usually quiet questions, “can I borrow a tampon?” whispered in hushed tones as the other sneakily hands one over, “don’t mention it babe. I get it”, maybe even with a wink if we want to overdo the clique…
And you know what, I’m not even wanting it to be like socially acceptable or common place to talk about it openly and honestly as a broader social cohort. Really, the concept of trying to even get my husbands and sons alone to really understand what life is like as a woman, just in this micro aspect alone, is not super high on my agenda.
I just want the ‘red tent’ really. Somewhere you go to celebrate femininity with bitches who get it and can be just as moody and irritable as you.
A place which is like a retreat or safe haven from the demands and pressures of everyday life as a woman, wife, mother and everything else – just for a few days. A place and opportunity to look forward to this aspect of womanhood that is otherwise a ‘hidden burden’ half the population try to hide, disguise or minimise every month while we ‘solider on’ with everyday life. The very same aspect that is the reason we are able to procreate and continue as a species.
Right now, hiding in my ‘healing den’ (aka self-contained cottage at the bottom of our yard) while I am still recovering from rib injuries, well again, it’s the closest I have found to this embracing ‘red tent’ concept again in years in some aspects… like the ability to hide away, indulge in chocolates, Netflix marathons and do face masks, but it is missing a key element – the collective.
Geez do I know we would have a long way to get to a social norm of women getting to take a few days off each month, ‘for the good of humanity’ and all – but just for a second imagine it, wouldn’t that be a fucking cool reality?!
A retreat you look forward to with all kinds of benefits, instead of what is often an inconvenience and pain, also sometimes accompanied with utter relief or on the flip side, despairing disappointment, but regardless is a collective part of life?
Wouldn’t it be awesome to get your period and be excited, “hell yeah! I get to go to the red tent!!” 😉
Related post – The verdict… Period or pregnant?!