Hey Baby, Can You Bleed Like Me?

GlamourKat's picture

Hey Baby, Can You Bleed Like Me?*

by Kat S.

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Blood.
Bleeding.
Normally it's a bad thing. When humans bleed we're in pain, we're injured, things are not right.
Except for 49-51% of the population. For almost a week out of every month.
We're women, and we bleed. It's a natural thing. Hell, as you read this there's a very good chance that a woman is near you or in the same house or apartment, and she's bleeding RIGHT NOW. Bleeding from her vagina. *gasp*
So many men reel in horror from this. We're not allowed to talk about our periods. It's "gross" and "dirty".
But it's the reason we're all here. If your mother lost her period, you wouldn't have been conceived. Yes, your mother bleeds, or bled once. Try not to be too sicked out, folks.
Some people have argued, "Well, humans shit too, and that's pretty gross. We all can agree on THAT. Why defend menstruation?"
Because it's really not that gross. No, trust me.

Noone really knows why female homo sapiens bleed so much while menstruating. But we do know that menstruation directly affects our fertility as a species. Ovulation, menstruation, the cycle of life. Once a girl starts bleeding, around the age of 11 or so, she can carry a child. That is when fertility begins. Once a woman STOPS menstruating, around ~50, she cannot have children any more. This is amazing. Even with all our medical science we can't explain all of the mysteries hidden up there in those tubes. But that doesn't mean god did it. It isn't "Eve's Curse", it isn't some unclean dirty thing. It's a part of us. It's just blood.

But imagine how freaky deaky this must have been to ancient societies. A boy gets to an age where he realizes that women bleed from a hole where normally a man has a penis. OMFG! Is it any wonder that there are so many myths and legends about vaginas? The ubiquitous "vagina dentata" featured in so many jokes, myths and stories throughout the millenia. This is a First Nations woman creation myth: “A meat-eating fish inhabits the vagina of the Terrible Mother; the hero is the man who overcomes the Terrible Mother, breaks the teeth out of her vagina, and so makes her into a woman.” (Erich Neumann). Hippocrates thought that menstruation was the woman's body purging itself of bad moods. An author in approximately 60 A.D.alleged that sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman could be fatal when the sun was in lunar eclipse. There are mentions in the bible of how unclean bleeding women are, and how men who look upon them or have sex with them must be cut off from their people, etc. Genesis 31:34-35, Leviticus 15:19-30, 33, 15:24, 18:19, 20:18, 22:1-11, Ezekiel 18:5-6, 22:1-11.

Most religions have OFFICIAL doctrine and policies regarding menstruating women. They're afraid and disgusted by it. I can maybe see how this may have started. I'm even willing to allow for blood borne illnesses, that were maybe not SPECIFICALLY known in the early 1st century, but that when touched, blood could carry illness. Look on the leprosy "uncleanliness" passages in the bible. Good common sense. But avoiding a random leprous person is different from avoiding EVERY WOMAN on the freaking planet for 5 days out of every month! Especially when in some cultures women are forbidden intercourse, special ceremonial baths are required, women are locked away in huts for the duration of their periods and sometimes women can't even PRAY while bleeding. If their god created them to bleed then why the fuck doesn't he want to talk to them when their bodies are doing what they were "created" to do? Oh, right. Sorry, forgot. Eve's Curse. Filthy sinful women. Cursed with the pain of childbirth and the pain of cramps, and being punished every month for something a woman from a myth supposedly did. Well, I for one think it's bullshit.

Women bleed. It's neccessary. It's really not that bad. Yeah, cramps can be a bitch, and bleeding on my favourite clothes really sucks. But it's normal. Religion shames women's natural body functions. Building a wall of shame and disgust around it only hurts women AND men.

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Further reading:

Wikipedia:
Menstruation
Culture and menstruation
Menstrual Taboo

The Museum of Menstruation

Islam Question and Answer - A Muslim answers a question about sex and menstruation(with liberal use of pseudo-science)

A few of my most prized books:
"Cunt: A Declaration of Independence" by Inga Muscio
"The Vagina Monologues" by Eve Ensler
"The Story of V: A Natural History of Female Sexuality" by Catherine Blackledge

*Lyrics: Garbage

I've gotten my red stripes,

I've gotten my red stripes, but I just can't trust something that bleeds for 5 days and doesn't die.

An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded.

darth_josh's picture

I've gone to the store for

I've gone to the store for pads, ob plugs, or tampons several times. My wife, two of my cousins when they were between jobs. It is ridiculous when people make such a bad thing out of a woman's biological function. I once bought pads, lubricant, and condoms at the same time. The cashier looked at me and said," Well, you won't need the condoms if she is on her period." In true to form darth_josh fashion, I responded with my customary, "What the fuck's it to ya? and what kind of moron are you so I can tell the world?"

Likewise, I always found it obnoxious that those pesky unplanned erections that affect boys were made fun of in school too. I had hair on my chest in 7th grade. Not real cool.

I have three daughters. My wife will be giving them their 'talk' prior to the deadline. I have high hopes that it will endear/bond my daughters to her. My son and I have already talked and continue to do so. He's 11 1/2. I want him to be the mature male in the classroom full of uneducated rubes here in Tennessee where they don't tell many of the girls about this problem until it's too late.

In my humble, yet experienced, opinion, 11 is probably the right age for the information conversations to kick in. Up until that point, all that has been told to them is not to let anyone touch them there except a doctor when Mommy was present. Nobody. Nobody should ever tell you to keep anything secret from your Mommy either.

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Christen's picture

GlamourKat wrote:Women

GlamourKat wrote:
Women bleed. It's neccessary. It's really not that bad. Yeah, cramps can be a bitch, and bleeding on my favourite clothes really sucks. But it's normal. Religion shames women's natural body functions. Building a wall of shame and disgust around it only hurts women AND men.

Cramps are a bitch. It's very rare that I smoke pot on weeknights, unless I'm experiencing cramps from hell and can't even move without feeling like someone just stabbed me.

What do you think about these new forms of birth control that allow for women to only have 4 periods a year? I won't touch the stuff. Ovulation is one thing, but to skip your period all together is another. It just seems healthier and safer to go through the monthly internal shedding.

Christen's picture

darth_josh wrote: Nobody

darth_josh wrote:
Nobody should ever tell you to keep anything secret from your Mommy either.

I kept a lot of things from my mom, including the fact that I was mentruating. I don't remember why I did that, but I remember being very embarrased. Probably because I was a very late bloomer. I think I managed to keep it from her for several months by borrowing from my friends. Neither of my parents ever talked about sex, periods, condoms or birth control. The only thing I was taught about anything was "True Love Waits". Brother.

GlamourKat's picture

darth_josh wrote: In my

darth_josh wrote:

In my humble, yet experienced, opinion, 11 is probably the right age for the information conversations to kick in. Up until that point, all that has been told to them is not to let anyone touch them there except a doctor when Mommy was present. Nobody. Nobody should ever tell you to keep anything secret from your Mommy either.

What an awesome attitude! I wish more men were like you.... thumbs up

My parents told me EVERYTHING(and I mean everything) at the age of about 5. I was the most popular girl in Grade 1 when I told the whole class where babies came from. blushing
This was important information! I HAD to share it. Like when I figured out Santa wasn't real when I was 8. And called my parents on it. And then I told all the kids at school about that. What can I say, I enjoy spreading the truth.... Laughing out loud

Anyway it was a GOOD thing they didn't wait 'til I was 11.... 'cause I got my menarche when I was about 9 or 10! I have girlfriends that did not know what was happening to them. A girl in grade 3 admitted that she was bleeding and it was in an embarrassing place. I had to tell her why and assure her she was NOT, in fact, going to die! She was SO SCARED! I'm really glad that you have a healthy attitude for your daughters..... Laughing out loud
They'll be well adjusted women.

GlamourKat's picture

Christen wrote: Cramps are a

Christen wrote:

Cramps are a bitch. It's very rare that I smoke pot on weeknights, unless I'm experiencing cramps from hell and can't even move without feeling like someone just stabbed me.

Yeah, cramps. Urgh. Shocked
Advil doesn't work that well for me when my uterus is being mean. Marijuana all the way. Preferably in a vaporizer so I don't get all that nasty smoke. Advil only makes it less "stabby" and more "dull throbby". Weed makes it not hurt. It still feels funny, but it doesn't hurt. thumbs up

Christen wrote:
What do you think about these new forms of birth control that allow for women to only have 4 periods a year? I won't touch the stuff. Ovulation is one thing, but to skip your period all together is another. It just seems healthier and safer to go through the monthly internal shedding.

Yeah, those haven't really been around long enough to measure long term effects on womens bodies. It could be completely safe, but I still remain wary. How long did it take them to figure out that birth control pills caused blood clots, and what kind of cancer they potentially cause or prevent? The jury is still out on those 4 period a year birth control. The fact is, I care more about my health than about not bleeding 12 times a year.
I agree about the healthier and safer option...

ImmaculateDeception's picture

Great post and very

Great post and very informative too. It reminded me of the "I have a good attitude about menstruation" skit on Kids In the Hall. I know you know which one I'm talking about.

Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine

GlamourKat's picture

ImmaculateDeception wrote:

ImmaculateDeception wrote:
Great post and very informative too. It reminded me of the "I have a good attitude about menstruation" skit on Kids In the Hall. I know you know which one I'm talking about.

I know you know that I know which one you're talking about...

Laughing out loud

Good Attitude Towards Menstruation

SilkyShrew's picture

GlamourKat wrote:If your

GlamourKat wrote:
If your mother lost her period, you wouldn't have been conceived.

I think you meant if she didn't have her period. If she lost her period due to pregnancy or an injury after the conception that caused her to lose it, then the individual could still have been conceived.

Quote:
Noone really knows why female homo sapiens bleed so much while menstruating. But we do know that menstruation directly affects our fertility as a species.

There's some corrolation between the size of the offspring and gestation time and energy needed for the formation of the offspring and amount of menstural blood. Humans seem to bleed more because in preparation for pregnancy, should the woman conceive, she tends to have a longer pregnancy, carries the offspring for nine and a half months, and needs more energy for the fetus to develop. Many other mammals give birth to their offspring within a shorter amount of time and their offspring is much smaller.

Also, different animals will reabsorb their uterine lining to various degrees. This also plays a role as to how much blood and tissue that the individual will expel. Also, there may be some advantage to expelling the lining as humans do - Human women sometimes suffer from a condition called endometriosis that doesn't seem as common in other animals. This condition occurs when a woman's uterine lining makes its way into the abdominal cavity (usually, sometimes it ends up elsewhere) and causes a variety of physical problems. The expelling of the lining to a greater extent may be a protection against this and similar conditions. I'm not sure how often other apes suffer from this condition, but from what I understand, other mammals don't suffer from it as often.

Quote:
Even with all our medical science we can't explain all of the mysteries hidden up there in those tubes.

Not all mysteries, but I'd say we are learning a fair amount from science on this subject.

Quote:
But imagine how freaky deaky this must have been to ancient societies. A boy gets to an age where he realizes that women bleed from a hole where normally a man has a penis.

That actually happens now - perhaps even more so than it did in more ancient times. Often ancient religions were patterned after fertility, so there was much exposure to menstural cycles historically. We see remnants of such ideologies in the Bible and the Quran which hold information on social norms regarding the subject which would require that, in order to be in compliance with their god, boys and men would have to be aware of the cycle. Eventually, as religion strayed farther away from fertility worship (though there are still strong elements of it in religion, they are just addressed differently), the more the culture has drifted towards not talking about it.

Quote:
Is it any wonder that there are so many myths and legends about vaginas? The ubiquitous "vagina dentata" featured in so many jokes, myths and stories throughout the millenia. This is a First Nations woman creation myth: “A meat-eating fish inhabits the vagina of the Terrible Mother; the hero is the man who overcomes the Terrible Mother, breaks the teeth out of her vagina, and so makes her into a woman.” (Erich Neumann).

Actually, I tend to think that such myths probably develop from similar mechanisms as those that humans develop about other cultures and other animals. For example, the image of "savages" that was advocated towards native americans during colonization, or the belief that crickets are lucky and black cats are the opposite. It is a fact of life that women are different, and given the social mechanisms of us quirky humans, women become an ingroup with each other and the men are the outgroup and men become an ingroup to each other and the women are an outgroup. This means that the two groups may try to invent explanations and odd cultural associations about the other in an effort to make sense of things. So the male penis is going to be exemplified as something like a snake, a stick, or a variety of other things - even a symbol of power (that could also be a status thing), and the woman's vagina can be exemplified as a fish, a knothole in a tree or even a mouth.

Quote:
Hippocrates thought that menstruation was the woman's body purging itself of bad moods.

That isn't surprising, given that the hormonal fluctuations and discomfort of menstruation lead women into having bad moods at and near the time of her period.

Quote:
An author in approximately 60 A.D.alleged that sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman could be fatal when the sun was in lunar eclipse.

I would think that the pattern of a woman's cycle would likely play a role in this assumption.

Quote:
There are mentions in the bible of how unclean bleeding women are, and how men who look upon them or have sex with them must be cut off from their people, etc. Genesis 31:34-35, Leviticus 15:19-30, 33, 15:24, 18:19, 20:18, 22:1-11, Ezekiel 18:5-6, 22:1-11.

Now, I haven't varified this or tried to find out if anyone else thinks similarly (but you mentioned briefly) - but I think that given the different hygienic care of a woman during her menstrual cycle, and in regards to the cultures view of hygiene - it may be possible that some individuals got sick if they did try to have sex during the woman's menstrual cycle, or come into contact with them. As much as it feels like an insult to think such a thing, it really isn't - it is simply a fact that some matter clinging to fingers and other body parts that we come into contact with remaining on our hands for extended amounts of time leads to the development of germs that are harmful to us. That's why we wash our hands so often now, and take a different approach to hygiene. Now women have options that allow for a much cleaner experience during her cycle, we don't have to come into as much contact with our blood, and neither does anyone else. I can't say for sure, but this could by why the aversion to touching a menstruating woman developed, and then eventually turned into something tied into one of the greatest social controls they had, religion.

Quote:
They're afraid and disgusted by it.

Well, most religions that came out of the middle east, anyway. Many tribal religions had very positive attitudes in regards to menstruation. Some cultures developed celebratory rituals and events because of menstruation, in some cultures, menstruation was a step up in social status, and in some it was regarded as a woman's most holy and admirable state of being. Female shamans in some cultures were sometimes considered in their most spiritual and wise state at such a time.

Quote:
Women bleed. It's neccessary. It's really not that bad. Yeah, cramps can be a bitch, and bleeding on my favourite clothes really sucks. But it's normal. Religion shames women's natural body functions. Building a wall of shame and disgust around it only hurts women AND men.

I agree, and I think it is important for people to be willing to talk about it and understand it.

I wrote something on vulva hygiene recently, you can see it here if you'd like.

Nice post.

Insidium Profundis wrote:
I've gotten my red stripes, but I just can't trust something that bleeds for 5 days and doesn't die.

I have a natural aversion to things with built-in, collapsable probes.

darth_josh wrote:
Likewise, I always found it obnoxious that those pesky unplanned erections that affect boys were made fun of in school too. I had hair on my chest in 7th grade. Not real cool.

I totally agree.

Quote:
I have three daughters. My wife will be giving them their 'talk' prior to the deadline. I have high hopes that it will endear/bond my daughters to her. My son and I have already talked and continue to do so. He's 11 1/2. I want him to be the mature male in the classroom full of uneducated rubes here in Tennessee where they don't tell many of the girls about this problem until it's too late.

Not really a problem, just an inconvenience. My girls are already educated on the matter - the eight year old more so than the five year old (mostly due to capacity for understanding). If the parents are comfortable with it, also, it is a good thing for fathers to be able to openly discuss things with their daughters (if they have the knowledge) and for mothers to be able to discuss these things with their sons as well. Good job in informing them ahead of time - many girls are traumatized when they don't know what is going on and end up having their period.

Quote:
In my humble, yet experienced, opinion, 11 is probably the right age for the information conversations to kick in.

Actually, I would advise that people teach their children earlier than that. Partly because it fosters an ability to communicate to the children about their sexual experiences and sexuality sooner, and an ability to be clear from both the parents and the children. It also lets a parent uncomfortable or unsure about how to communicate these things some practise time so that the more clumsy conversations are while the child is young, and as the child gets older the conversations can be more relaxed. The conversations need to be repetative so that the children's knowledge is reinforced. Another good reason for early education is to prevent the spread of misinformation that children often come up with. Often at about the age of five, children question where babies come from and how bodies work. They also often have the capacity for at least *some* information on the matter. When they don't get adequate information, they often invent theories on their own and spread them to friends, or they ask a friend who may give them an erroneous idea. It is also good to be honest and truthful to kids about their genitals and reproductive organs for the same reasons. Furthermore, children learn at an early age that touching their bodies can feel good, and may be confused when others don't want to talk about it, or treat their young behavior towards their genitals as a negative trait. They can become confused due to the conflicting messages between their body, and the attitudes that others have.

Quote:
Up until that point, all that has been told to them is not to let anyone touch them there except a doctor when Mommy was present. Nobody. Nobody should ever tell you to keep anything secret from your Mommy either.

These are good things to teach them, although they may need more information. Lack of openness about their body and its functions may make them feel like when something does happen they need to keep it secret like everyone else seems to - or the aversion to talking about other aspects of their body's functioning may reinforce the idea of 'you shouldn't tell' that a predator would say because, afterall, others aren't talking about it, and they may feel alienated at being the only one (they perceive) who has experienced such a thing. Being able to talk openly with mom and dad about all the things that their body does can also equip them with the ability to talk to others clearly about it when/if something bad does happen to them. It also can help them learn to cope with the issue.

Christen wrote:
Cramps are a bitch. It's very rare that I smoke pot on weeknights, unless I'm experiencing cramps from hell and can't even move without feeling like someone just stabbed me.

I take midol, ibuprofen, use breathing/stretching/and exercise in order to deal with mine. If I don't do those things, then I can be found doubled over in pain. I was always jealous of my sisters when I was young, because they have cycles that last only 3 days, while mine lasted nearly 7 (after having kids it is only about 4-5, but it is extremely heavy, so my dr has me consume extra calcium and iron). Then, as an adult, I realized that both my sisters also have extreme mood swings, whereas I'm mellow even before and during my period. The only real change I get is being a bit more weepy (which is a recent change, actually, I used to just get depressed - now I get weepy, but not as depressed, lol). My parents and people who were close to me usually couldn't tell the difference between when I was menstruating and when I wasn't, behavior-wise (they still can't). When I brought this up to my doctor they seemed to think that there is a combination of factors that play into this, including perhaps a slower fluctuation in hormones that I have as compared to them.

Quote:
What do you think about these new forms of birth control that allow for women to only have 4 periods a year? I won't touch the stuff. Ovulation is one thing, but to skip your period all together is another. It just seems healthier and safer to go through the monthly internal shedding.

Well, the matter is really up to you. Here's what we do know - the risk for endometriosis goes down for birth control methods that prevent the period from happening. The information for risks of various cancers is conflicting, seemingly because some cancer risks seem to be higher on birth control (not just the ones that prevent menstruation, but ALL birth control) and some cancer risks seem to be lower. General mood levels overall seem to be higher on birth controls which prevent menstruation which makes sense because the hormones aren't changing in a way that would normally cause bad moods. Also, depending on the type of birth control, some of the ones that prevent menstruation actually seem to have far fewer adverse side-effects. When I compared studies done on various birth controls, for example, I found out that one of the least common types, the Norplant (an implant that can be put in particular parts of the body, that releases hormones into the bloodstream for up to five years) actually had one of the highest effectiveness rates and one of the lowest rates of side effects - and in many women, menstruation stops while on it! Many doctors, however, consider it an older method of birth control, and don't like that it is more invasive than other types (making them percieve it as less convenient (even though it is one minor procedure in five years' time as compared to daily pills which people forget, monthly shots which are uncomfortable, shots every three months, or weekly patches, or the placement of a ring against the cervix). A surprising find, but interesting, no?

Me, I'm just selfish enough to prefer not having a period to having one. The only reason why I'm not on birth control now is because I'm not having sex (though, I need to plan on getting birth control soon) and also not having insurance to pay for it (which I might be getting soon as well).

Quote:
I kept a lot of things from my mom, including the fact that I was mentruating. I don't remember why I did that, but I remember being very embarrased. Probably because I was a very late bloomer. I think I managed to keep it from her for several months by borrowing from my friends. Neither of my parents ever talked about sex, periods, condoms or birth control. The only thing I was taught about anything was "True Love Waits". Brother.

That's sad Sad. Sorry you had to go through that.

Glamourkat wrote:
Anyway it was a GOOD thing they didn't wait 'til I was 11.... 'cause I got my menarche when I was about 9 or 10! I have girlfriends that did not know what was happening to them. A girl in grade 3 admitted that she was bleeding and it was in an embarrassing place. I had to tell her why and assure her she was NOT, in fact, going to die!

I had that happen to me as well, having to explain to someone what was happening to them, and what was *really* sad about it, is that in my state, there has been public sex education for years starting at about the third grade, but my friend's mother prevented her from going to the sex ed classes.

Excellent youtube link!

todangst's picture

When teaching a daughter

When teaching a daughter about sexuality and menustration you also have to do updates periodically... (pun sorta intended). I taught my daughter before the age of 10, but even still, when her period came she was unprepared, and she did not tell me at all. I found evidence instead - quite a deal of messy evidence, in fact.

So I went to speak to her again, but I noticed that things were different between us at the time of her period... she wasn't as comfortable talking with me, her father, anymore. It was now 'personal' for her, no longer theoretical.

Fortunately, her grandmother was able to help and talk to her (and make it a nice event by buying her things she needed, like training bras, etc.)

So I guess it's pretty vital that a woman be involved in the teaching process all along too.... I'm egalitarian, but there are some things that go easier when it's woman-woman or man-man, etc.....

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.

SilkyShrew's picture

Quote:So I guess it's pretty

Quote:
So I guess it's pretty vital that a woman be involved in the teaching process all along too.... I'm egalitarian, but there are some things that go easier when it's woman-woman or man-man, etc.....

I think it probably depends on the girl's personality type. I was pretty comfortable talking to my dad about my body, but I know my older sister and younger sister were not. My father was even present when I delivered my older daughter and was pretty attentive during and after the pregnancy while I was pretty sick and I was comfortable with that. But, admittedly, many women are not like me, heh.

Sounds like you were a good dad Smiling

darth_josh's picture

Actually, I haven't gotten

Actually, I haven't gotten the questions. Age 11 is more the cutoff for preemptive information sessions.

Oddly enough, my wife suggested yesterday that the 10 year old needs her first training bra. If I were a superstitious person then I would declare GlamourKat to be a jinx. lol.

The three oldest asked why mommy got so fat when the youngest was in the womb. I told them that a baby was growing inside of mommy. That's as far as I needed to go at that time. So far, it's been irrelevant to their upbringing.

I suppose that we'll see about the rest, Silky.

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berlandk's picture

Great blog, Kat! I've never

Great blog, Kat! I've never understood why so many people think that it's a good idea to keep so much information from their kids. And it's even worse that they spend so much time and effort making up superstitions about things that are totally normal, natural parts of life, and then spend a lot of time being scared of those things. It's ridiculous.

"People said I was dumb, but I proved them!"~Fry