Guest Post by Alexandra Epstein – Marymount Manhattan College.
how school helped me come out of the menstrual closet
Finally, the time had come where I was choosing my classes for my senior year of college. I had finished my required courses to complete my social work minor, and with only a few required courses left until I complete my psychology major, I had lots of room to choose electives! What to take though? Maybe an art class? Or what about a science class? As I scrolled though my options online, something caught my eye. “The Social Construction and Images of Menstruation”. Honestly, anything to do with the social construction of anything is good in my book, so without even thinking much about it, I registered.
Day one in class, it hit me; I was in a class completely focused on the idea of how menstruation is viewed by society. I was a bit taken aback. As a woman, I had grown up “dealing” with my period, but I had never actually thought about it, or what it meant to me as a woman. Now, I can’t stop. I can’t stop thinking about it, I can’t stop talking about it, I can’t stop reading about it. The idea of the social construction behind menstruation has not left my head since I entered that classroom on the first day of the semester.
Not only has this class opened my mind to a whole new concept, but it has made me more comfortable to openly talk about menstruation and everything that goes along with it. It wasn’t even two months ago that I was so uncomfortable with the concept of the period. I wouldn’t talk about it often with my friends, I would hide my tampons in bags within bags so no one would know that I was on my period, and I thought of my period as a burden and huge inconvenience. Within the past month I have grown to love my period. It is something I am proud to be able to experience. I have become very open with conversation regarding menstruation. I have asked all of my female friends about their first experience with their periods, and all of my male friends if they know how to use a tampon. I love the responses I get. Some people embrace the chance to talk about something we as humans don’t normally talk about. However, most people I talk to become so uncomfortable with the fact that I’m talking about such a taboo topic. They ask me why I choose this class, or why my school even offers such a rare subject to study. What they are most shocked by is the fact that my professor is a male. “A guy teaches that class? Isn’t that awkward?” “No!” I reply, “Its brilliant and insightful and I am in love with it.” Too many people are uncomfortable with this topic. I am making it my mission to take the awkwardness out of menstrual conversations.