Talking about periods shouldn’t be off-limits

June 12, 2019 BY

Perfectly natural process: Co-authors Karen Pickering and Jane Bennett’s book About Bloody Time is about changing attitudes on menstruation. Photo: CAROL SAFFER

FEMINIST author Karen Pickering and Australia’s most renowned menstrual educator Jane Bennett launched their co-authored book About Bloody Time: the menstrual revolution we have to have in Ballarat last week.

About Bloody Time explores women’s experiences of menstruation from puberty to menopause and examines the menstrual taboo from all perspectives.

Victorian Women’s Trust, advocators for the rights of women and girls, commissioned the co-authors to write the book after conducting an international survey of almost 3500 women on menstrual health.

“Menstruation and menopause is an intrinsic part of our health and wellbeing, however the way periods are shrouded in secrecy and shame is anything but healthy,” Mary Crooks AO, Executive Director at Victorian Women’s Trust said.

“This has enormous implications for women and girls, if women are to achieve full gender equality, dismantling this taboo is one of the last frontiers to be addressed,” she said.

Ms Pickering said she and Ms Bennett drilled down and analysed the survey data while doing research on menstrual taboo to form the book’s argument to dismantle it.

Around half the population is carrying shame, anxiety, confusion and sometimes trauma around their own body’s reproductive function.

The negativity that girls and women feel about menstruation and menopause doesn’t necessarily lessen over the course of their lives.

“You might get your period between the age of 10 and 15 and you have it for four decades,” Ms Pickering said. “We have to ask the question, how much is what women and girls carry in terms of self-reproach and unnecessary anxiety holding them back” she said.

“How is it effecting their relationships with other people and their ability to work and flourish? I think we are long overdue for an open and productive conversation about this in public and we need to get over the reluctance that men, women, boys and girls have to talk about it.”

The book sets out how understand the off limits attitude towards menstruation better, why the mindset has existed for so long and where has it come from.

About Bloody Time puts forward the case that menstruation can be actually empowering for women and girls.

“A resource like About Bloody Time is long overdue,” co-author Ms Bennett said. “It is our hope that it becomes a staple of schools, libraries and households all over the country so that girls and women are no longer confused or ashamed by the incredible things that their bodies can do,” she said.