That’s right, I am going to write about feminism.
Now, before some of you click “back” or “close” on your Internet browser, I ask that you hear what I have to say.
I often find that when I speak of feminism women around me get squirmy. “She’s one of them”, they say, looking through me, not at me, while I talk. Funny thing is most women who reject feminism don’t even know what it is they are rejecting. I want to write about this topic not only because it has been essential to menstrual health (and my research focus over the past two weeks), but also because it has been incredibly misunderstood by young women born after the 1980s – myself included.
Please know that I will not drag you into the theoretical matrix I have found myself to be drowning in currently. I will however share a few things I feel are important for women to know about feminism.
Here is what a few people interviewed in New York City had to say about feminism:
Feminism is not at all about hating men or burning bras. A woman who calls herself a feminist does (sometimes) shave her legs and even wears make-up. Feminists do marry men, have kids and even choose to stay home and care for their children.
But many women (and men) believe that being a feminist cannot include any of the above.
I once heard a student say: “Why are women still complaining about how hard their life is? They can now work, they can go to university. I just don’t see what the big deal is.” This question echoes the popular message of feminism we see today, that of post-feminism.
Images of girl power and the superwoman are seen everywhere, promoting the post-feminist idea that women have made it; they have successfully reached the goals of the feminist movement and as such there is no longer a need for feminism. This feminism is primarily instilled in women unknowingly through our consumption practices. Through participation in consumer culture young women are granted access to almost anything.
Post-feminism advocates for a specific feminine citizen – one who can achieve everything, be anything, buy anything.
But what happens when the little girls of today, or even some of us ourselves, realize we didn’t get that job because we may one day be on the baby track? What happens when young women realize that maybe we haven’t made it? That having ‘access’ to everything in life does not actually give us an easy life, but rather one of stress, where we are tricked into doing everything, and everything with excellence while looking great?
How are we going to explain these things to young women?
And what does this all mean to menstruation?
The extended cycle oral contraceptive Seasonique tells women they don’t need to even have a period anymore. Through one little tablet a day, women can secure the means to control when they do and do not menstruate. Tampax tells women that by buying their product they can “outsmart mother nature”, allowing them to do anything while menstruating. In essence, women are no longer supposed to even think about having their period.
We are living in a post-period generation – a generation that tells women that menstruation is unnecessary, gross and a ‘thing’ that must be concealed. Whether we ingest birth control or insert a tampon, we believe that we are in control of something that really deserves a bit more respect than we give Her. Rather than trying to control and regulate menses, we may want to see what life would be like if we worked with, not against Her.