The Controversial Menstrual Taboos Around the World
Menstruation faced a lot of controversies in the past. Most female ancestors were actually considered impure while they were having their period and were forced to stay and bleed in a private place for days until the end of their cycles.
Some major religions even considered it a sin to be menstruating. It was a difficult time to be a woman. Sadly, it still is.
Here are some controversial and cultural menstrual taboos around the world:
- Recently, a gym with a note “Ladies, do not go into the pool during periods” made some female members angry after the management responded by saying it only wanted to protect the members from menstrual contamination.
- Some women are not allowed to visit temples and shrines during their period because menstrual blood is considered impure and sinful. In fact, until now, women in India continue to challenge such religious ban and demand that they should be allowed to enter temples.
- In Hindu belief, menstruating women cannot touch other males and females because they are considered untouchables and they are not allowed to return back to their families until the end of their period.
- Sexual intercourse while the wife is menstruating, is considered haraam in Islam. The woman can only become pure after her bleeding stops.
- In Islam, a woman cannot perform religious activities especially offering prayers while she’s menstruating.
- The movie industry also shares its tattoo nature of menstruation. Some movies reflect disgust and awkwardness when they show some scenes of women characters having their period. For example, in a movie entitled “Only Yesterday”, a group of boys teased one of the girls who was having her period. They didn’t let others touch the ball she touched because they believe “you’ll catch her period”.
- Every girl in Nepal has one wish - not get her period. Chhaupadi or a being banished to a hut or cattle shed once a Nepalese girl gets her period. This banishment includes not being allowed to sleep or enter her house, touch her family members, eat anything other than bread or rice and go to school. She cannot choose what to eat, where she can go and where she can sleep. Chhaupadi is influenced by Hinduism. There were some cases when women were raped, tortured and killed by animals for staying in the cow shed all by themselves. Most modern women in Nepal think the belief is a form of gender-based discrimination.
- Outfront Media, the agency that manages the advertisement in New York City’s public transit wants to ban an ad that features women openly talking about their period, saying that the ad is way too explicit and sexually suggestive. Thinx, the menstrual underwear company being advertised, is actually disappointed because according to them, there are other sex ads that aren’t banned by Outfront. Apparently, Outfront is okay with a breast augmentation ad showing a woman’s cleavage. This means even in this modern world, menstruation, period, Aunt Flo or shark week is still a topic the society tries to avoid.
- In 1996 in a Boston Marathon, the first woman athlete to cross the finish line named Uta Pippig showed some blood stains under her clothing. An article was written about the incident saying she “bled all the way from Hopkinton to Boston” which made angered feminists.
The whole idea of menstruation might sound terrible even for most women. A lot of teenagers are being bullied because of period stains in school.
Some researchers believed that the stigma can be traced back to religion and other cultural beliefs in the past.
As a woman, you have to remember that your body has the capability to regenerate, a uterus that sheds itself and cramps that are more painful than being circumcised.
Enjoy your femininity. Celebrate womanhood.
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