Menstruation has always been a hush-hush women-only topic. And that is why when ‘Period. End of Sentence’ won an Oscar yesterday, there were many people who were surprised. Because menstruation is ‘icky’ and is not a topic you can make a movie on, leave alone win an Oscar.
Menstrual isolation is very common. Being from a traditional background, I know that menstrual isolation is very common. I have also been instructed to stay away from kitchen, place of worship, bed, fresh clothes etc. Why? Because menstrual blood is considered impure.
Menstruation is a simple biological phenomenon which aids in reproduction. It has nothing to do with impurities, at least not any more than your regular daily ‘outgoings’. So why the taboo on women entering certain places?
We are as much human as men are. We probably maintain better hygiene than men do, probably because of the strict training we undergo to prepare us for matrimonial home. Anyway, there is no need to banish women from certain places just because they are going through “that time of the month”.
Banishing from kitchen – I personally think this is a great idea since it saves me from cooking. It will do men good to cook for once a month at least. Jokes apart, I have heard some sensible arguments for it, saying that the heat from the stove is not good for the womb, and hence the ‘no entry’. Also that these days not many people follow it, especially in nuclear families. But have you realized why they are not following it? Only because – if the only lady in the house doesn’t cook, then who will? The intention behind doing away with the practice is self-interest and convenience, rather than the rights and comfort of the woman concerned. Though I am all for giving rest, and I appreciate the health reasons behind it, please teach your daughters about hygiene and precautions, rather than not letting her come into the kitchen at all. Let it be her choice if she wants to take rest or not.
Banishing from bedrooms and drawing rooms – To me, this is the most atrocious practice of all, since many women feel weak and undergo pain during this time. To remove the basic comforts from their lives is nothing but torture. Beds are used by everyone everyday, there is nothing pure about them in the first place. Then why this drama?
Banishing from places of worship – Now this is the tricky one. Without being religion specific, the female is also worshipped in various cultures, as Goddesses or Mother etc. For example, we have temples for Goddesses. But we don’t allow women in temples when menstruating. So what happens to Goddesses during menstruation? Their idol/presence is not taken away from the place. And I am sure nobody can argue that Goddesses don’t menstruate, because if they don’t, wouldn’t they also have to be called as ‘third gender’ and abandoned the way human women are?
With this piece, I may be invoking the wrath of God (maybe), my mum (definitely), the world (probably) and the priests (surely). But risking all that, I have shared my views here. Simply because I have not spoken from a religious angle at all. I don’t claim to know our traditions as well as some people do. I am merely using logic to prove how tied down we are with certain practices and how it can hamper our dignity, respect and least of all, our routine.