Guest Post by Jennifer Aldoretta
Hi, everyone. My name is Jennifer; I’m the author of the upcoming book Menstruation Revelation and CEO and co-founder of Groove: “the simplest cycle tracking and fertility charting app available.”
Menstrual stigma is something every woman has experienced, whether we realize it or not. The results of this stigma are evident: a girl’s embarrassment about her very first menstrual period, a woman trying to hide the box of tampons in her grocery basket, or the constant worry that we might spring a leak and reveal the fact that we’re menstruating. This stigma is perpetuated by the messages—subliminal or not—that we encounter. These messages manifest as product ads, product design, and cultural and religious practices, among others. We may not take notice of these things, but they change the way we think. I believe—along with many other amazing women who post to this blog—that it’s time to stop looking at menstruation as a filthy occurrence that must be suppressed and regulated. It’s time we educate the members of our stigmatizing society (men and women, boys and girls) about reality.
The reality I’m talking about includes the many benefits of the menstrual cycle: menstrual blood has the potential to assist in the research of regenerative therapies; practicing fertility awareness is a highly effective, natural form of contraception; pinpointing the fertile window can help couples achieve a desired pregnancy; tracking physical changes caused by hormones can help women achieve a speedy diagnosis of many reproductive disorders. Not only must we enlighten, but we must also provide the tools, like my book and the Groove app, to help people realize those benefits.
I have seen first-hand the effects of a sub-par menstrual education. I saw it at age 11 when I was embarrassed by my new status as a “woman,” which was only made worse by the teasing I encountered for now having to carry a purse to the bathroom at school. We have seen it in the high teen pregnancy rates in states across the US that refuse to adopt a comprehensive sex education curriculum. We see it when words like “PMS” and “time-of-the-month” are thrown around when women speak their minds. And we see it when “hippie” stereotypes are placed on women who practice fertility awareness.
This enlightenment must start from a young age. We must start from a young age so that girls aren’t so traumatized and ostracized when experiencing a major life event like menarche. We must start from a young age so that boys are sensitive and understanding towards girls who are going through these changes. We must start from a young age so that young people will have the comprehensive knowledge necessary to make intelligent decisions about sex when that time comes. Many might argue that this topic is “inappropriate” for young minds, and I would reply that the power of education is all too often underestimated.
In a speech that the incredible Malala Yousafzai gave to the UN, she said: “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.” If this is true, imagine the power of many children, many teachers, many books, and many pens. Whether that education is in mathematics or the intricacies of the menstrual cycle, I—like Malala—believe that education will pave the way. Education is powerful and must be affordable by all if we hope to see change. That’s why Menstruation Revelation will be available for download free of charge from Groove’s website. I hope my free book will be the first of many about menstruation.
Menstruation Revelation and Groove are about so much more than they appear at the surface. It’s time that our society take full advantage of the technologically advanced age in which we thrive. The transfer of information has become instantaneous and so the potential to educate on a massive scale has never been greater. At Groove, we want to design, create, and distribute technology and ideas that help us break out of the current paradigm to create a society full of women who are truly free: free of stigma, free of social and corporate pressure to conform to an unattainable ideal, and free of the need to suppress a part of themselves. We are a passionate bunch of people working on an important problem, and I hope that our contributions will play a role—however small—in this revolution. This revelation. This menstruation revelation.