For reasons I will never fully understand, nothing makes the general public quite as uncomfortable as a woman’s monthly cycle. Any discussion related to the most natural thing in the world that affects 50% of the population is enough to make most women blush and a lot of men feel mild discomfort at best and outright disgust at worst. Ancient cultures around the world have feared the danger and power of a menstruating woman, as Pliny the Elder, a naturalist from the Roman Empire, remarked:
The Dead Sea, thick with salt, cannot be drawn asunder except by a thread soaked in the poisonous fluid of the menstruous blood. […] So magical is the power of women during their monthly periods that they say that hailstorms and whirlwinds are driven away if menstrual fluid is exposed to the flashes of lightning.
Interesting, and almost more flattering than offensive.
We aren’t quite in ancient Rome anymore, but menstruation is still a taboo topic. In a great blog I came across the other day, someone posted several signs from temples in India and Bali that still prohibit women from entering if accompanied by their monthly visitor. Here are a couple of my favourites:
I guess anyone can enter.
Although this sign has numerous grammatical errors, someone put a lot of effort into making it quite specific. I can only imagine what must have happened at the temple for someone to think this was necessary.
I can’t be too hard on these sign makers because I’m pretty sure English isn’t their first language, but perhaps mensies-related misspellings wouldn’t be so common if periods could be discussed more openly. Period-positive ad campaigns, like HelloFlo’s recent release of the viral videos “First Moon Party” and “The Camp Gyno,” may help to shift public view.