TAKING OFF from Dilnavaz’s post on menstruation and the shame surrounding it, what I find particularly irritating are the practical implications of this at a workplace. In most offices, men and women work in close quarters and it can get really awkward because one is expected to hide something that’s so integral and, well, regular. Depending on how conservative the office is (although I have known this to be a taboo topic even in ‘free’ work atmospheres), there can be a veritable dance of deception.
When women have bad cramps and male colleagues ask them what’s wrong, they’ll inevitably wince and say “nothing”, look guilty and mumble “stomach ache” or lie. Once, in my previous job, a female colleague had such terrible cramps that she had to take half the day off. Luckily, she had a woman boss who knew what was wrong. I remember glancing across the aisle at my taciturn male boss and wondering what I would have done in a similar situation. Because telling a man (gasp!) that you’re not feeling peachy because of…ahem…”the time of month” is just not done.
Changing pads is another ordeal. Women will wait till the men look suitably occupied, look around surreptitiously, then sidle out of their chairs clutching their bags close to them and sneak to the toilet. The attitude and body language is usually one of acute embarrassment. In one company that I worked for, there were no facilities for women to dispose of sanitary napkins. It just hadn’t occurred to the male bosses that this may be required — and the women were too shy to ask!
Then there’s the issue of the Stain — an eventuality that many women live in mortal fear of because it can unleash embarrassment of horrific proportions. And if you get a Stain during an important meeting with the boss or an important client, it may just be professional hara kiri. Not to mention, you’ll be sniggered about for the rest of your days.
To prevent monthly work loss among the powerful, Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea. Doctors would research little about heart attacks, from which men would be hormonally protected, but everything about cramps.
Street guys would invent slang (“He’s a three-pad man”) and “give fives” on the corner with some exchenge like, “Man you lookin’ good!”
“Yeah, man, I’m on the rag!”
Now, that’s a thought. 😀