It’s time for guys to stop being afraid of periods. That’s right, I mean menstrual cycles, and yes, I believe that men are afraid of them.
#notallmen (beat you to it).
But still, #somanymen
Men need to grow
a pair (that’s sexist) a bit in maturity and learn to see members of the opposite sex as equals even though women experience things that seem a bit foreign to us men. Here are my reasons:
First of all, it looks bad if you’re a guy who is afraid of periods, because the fear of menstruation is called menophobia. Did you catch the irony for men in that very word? Let me spell it out for you, just in case: MENophobia.
One might think that menophobia would be the fear of men, but a quick Google search taught me that the fear of men is called androphobia. It’s all Latin to me (and to everyone – seeing as how it is actually Latin), but I find it ironic that menophobia has the word “men” in it, when really, if anyone is to legitimately fear menstruation, it should be pre-pubescent girls, because menstruation is something they know is highly likely to affect them in the future – personally.
At the same time, I find it fitting that there is a male component to the word menophobia (ok, I know it doesn’t actually because it’s not English and meno refers to menstruation in Latin, just bear with me ok?) – anyway, I find it befitting because guys so often act like periods are this disgusting thing that makes the people having periods dangerous to be around, like they have the cheese touch, or something. Something like cooties. Both imaginary highly contagious ailments that require keeping these disease-riddled people at bay for fear of infection – quarantine would be best. Did I mention that they’re imaginary? Yes. Did I also mention that they are childish? No? Well it is childish to believe that girls have cooties. Menophobia sounds like a case of frightened men to me. Scared of what? MENstruation, which, again, has nothing to do with men.
All joking aside, genuine fears aren’t anything to laugh at. It just doesn’t make much sense to me that men have menophobia. They may have hemophobia, the fear of blood. That’s legit. That being said, I think that some (re)education on the subject of menstruation might dissolve that crimson fear, at least as it relates to periods.
Repeat after me:
Blood isn’t gross.
Messes are gross.
Messes. Not Menses.
Further, menophobia is something that many young girls actually have, and legitimately so, if they don’t have the support and education that they need to turn that fear into nervous anticipation, at worst, if not full-on acceptance of what is naturally, biologically, going to happen.
To those who understand that menstruation is a natural thing, menophobic men come across as ignorant. Stupid. And, quite frankly, as childish assholes who think it’s ok to belittle people just because they are different, which is the basis of my next point:
Second, menophobia is just another way to uphold differences between the sexes as an un-breachable wedge that keeps the two from ever being able to understand each other, let alone know true intimacy, closeness, or even friendship. It’s buying into the view that we are more different than similar, more alien than akin, more Mars and Venus than fellow Earthlings. I believe that this view is one of the ways that keep women under men’s sexist thumb, with the following train of thought: Men don’t have periods and that’s good and normal. Women have periods, which is not the good and normal experience of men, so it’s weird, and probably a sign that women are corrupted morally or spiritually and so periods are definitely bad and shameful.
This kind of garbage has been getting in the way of men and women from knowing true friendship and intimacy for generations, because it keeps men and women from being equal. Those types of attitudes label all females as inferior, because of those experiences they have that are not male. How are we still perpetuating the whole thought process: “I was born with a penis. Oh, you weren’t born with a penis? You poor inferior creature.”
Or the one in the news recently: “I see you bleed from your vagina every month. I don’t want to be reminded of this, so you need to not mention it to me – ever. Further, you need to be sanitary about it, so collect the-blood-that-must-not-be-named and dispose of it without me knowing about it with these handy dandy blood-capturing products – WHICH WE WILL NOW TAX YOU FOR.”
Because disposing of menstrual blood is such a luxury.
Seriously. Google it, or just click here.
Of course there is no male equivalent to that “luxury” tax for men. The closest thing I could come up with would be to insist that men wear absorbent penis-pouches at night in case they have an unintentional nocturnal emission, and tax them on that. But then I Googled nocturnal emissions, because I’m a curious person, and found out, as I suspected, that women have nocturnal… orgasms too. They just don’t typically need to mop up a mess afterwards. Also, and this is important: not all men have nocturnal emissions (case in point: I don’t. Probably TMI, sorry, I just feel like I’ve missed out. I have issues), and of course not all women either, whereas all women’s bodies are biologically programmed to have periods.
So the next best example would go something like this: Men, because of their higher levels of testosterone, grow more hair on their bodies than women. Gross. You MUST take care of that growing problem, so here are some indispensable products to help you manage your beastly fur: shaving cream and razors (and a shaving brush if you’re old/hip enough) – WHICH WE WILL NOW TAX YOU FOR.
Well, that’s just ridiculous.
And that’s still a terrible example, because women also grow hair that many would prefer to manicure. There simply isn’t a scenario for men that can equal the blatant chauvinism inherent in taxing women for the products they use to manage their natural monthly cycle.
Here’s me taking a stab at the kind of logic that leads to taxing women for menstrual products, as applied to shaving: “Shaving products aren’t taxed as luxury items because they are designed for men. Oh, women want to shave too? Fine, they can use man-razors too – if they’re pink. But products specifically for women? That men can’t even use? Well that’s offensive, and ridiculous, so we should tax them. Actually all things female are ridiculous, as we all know. Which can only mean one thing: women are ridiculous.
There, that wasn’t so hard. I just PROVED that men are superior to women; it’s because women are inherently ridiculous. So let’s tax them for the things they need that men don’t because they were born ridiculous.”
Cue gigantic eye roll.
Luxury items, my ass…inine outdated cultural standards.
Shaming women because of a biological function that they can’t help (and is, I don’t know, directly connected to the perpetuation of our species) and punishing them for it (be it taxing them, shunning them, mocking them, etc) is a form of social oppression that keeps women from being treated as equal to men.
The way that menophobic men treat women (or allow them to be treated) is disrespectful and hurtful. It is one way that keeps women at arm’s length; men’s arm’s length. It communicates to women that they are dirty, less than, unappealing, gross. Because of this message of shame, it also communicates that they are beneath people who either aren’t having their period or never have a period. Men need to outgrow menophobia so they have a shot at having a more balanced relationship with members of the opposite sex, be it a father-daughter relationship, a husband-wife relationship, male-female friendship, or other.
Men need to allow bleeding vaginas to mar their narrow sexualized view of women, so that they can value women for all that they are, not just their sexy parts – and stop shaming them for their less sexy parts.
Third, by perpetuating the idea that periods are disgusting and the people who have periods are disgusting by association, we are actively passing that belief down to the next generation of young girls, who will inherit all that garbage/baggage. Men need to outgrow their menophobia so that the next generation can embrace periods as normal, natural, and shameless.
Young girls need better than to grow up thinking they are different and weird and gross. Young boys need to grow up valuing girls both for what they have in common with them, AND what makes them different.
Parents can stop the cycle of meno-shaming girls by debunking the myth of cooties, not accepting the excuse that boys will be boys, and talking to their children (both boys and girls) about normal human biological parts and functions like penises, vaginas (that’s right, call body parts what they are, labia, scrotum and all), puberty, periods, sex, procreation, breasts, breastfeeding, sitting down to pee, and more.
Men, it’s time to let go of cootie-teasing; it’s only fun for the person doing the teasing. Or you will incorporate meno-shaming into your parenting.
It’s time for men to outgrow menophobia.
Jeremy Martin-Weber is the proud father of 6 inspiring girls, and is 19 years into a love story with his partner, Jessica Martin-Weber.