Live the menstrual taboo

I remember very well the day when my first menstruation arrived. I was 15 years old and a great desire to felt, finally, a woman.

It was a Sunday, and as I used to do on this day, I was playing an important volleyball game. I got it quite well and we could bring the victory home.

To tell this short story, however, I should start from the context. And the context was a little different from what one might imagine.

I've never really felt part of my team. Of no team. I was shy but true, and on the field I was very severe. Both with myself and with others. The victory, for me, has always symbolized a sense of revenge. In that case on the opponent. I wanted to win not to demonstrate that I was strong, but to show myself and the opponents that I too deserved to be in that same place. Which, in some way, were the same. That my commitment, even if we had lost, would have lived up to them. Because it was the same and identical.

"We are still the same."

With hindsight, it is not difficult for me to understand that I was unconsciously looking for a place, a place, a situation to feel physically part of. The same thing, in fact, already happened three times a week in the strip of the gym. My eyes constantly saw my undoing, naked, comfortable companions in their shapely body, wash next to each other. They talked about boys and menstruation; they exchanged absorbent.

I was the only one of the girls who have not yet had "the cycle", to not yet have a swallow of breast or shapes. I was still in the appearance of a child although, inside, I was not at all.

My immature body and my late development represented, in my eyes as a girl in that difficult phase of adolescence, an obstacle towards that acceptance, that sense of participation and "victory" above that I wanted to try towards my companions. Outside of that net and that white ball, we were not the same at all.

Not even the topic "guys" was able to get me out of my shell. After all, my strong shyness and my low self -esteem certainly did not help me in the often disastrous approach I had with the other sex. And, going out, would have made me feel judged. Which, surely, would then happen.

And so, I admit it, I started lying. It wasn't something studied at all, it happened and that's it. I pretended to have menstruation too, delighting me in telling a few short anecdote that I had heard of my sister around the house. Lied, however, did not work equally. Because, at that point, I felt much more impostor than child.

And therefore yes, I remember perfectly the day when I had the menarca, because a happiness and a sense of relief invaded my whole body. I remained like this, enchanted and surprised, while observing the underwear lowered on my knee pads and on my game socks. He finally touched me. I had won, but really won. Suddenly, I had "become" a woman.


This story, in reality, telling it after many years and many menstrual cycles, gave me great food for thought. I think of my point of view, what I just explained to you, of that celebration that my menstrual cycle has been for me and then, however, I think of that taboo halo that surrounds this natural and physiological event that every woman in invests in Fertile age and that often, by society, is seen as something impure and threatening. How, citing some phrases that I have heard during my life, “something I cannot trust. Bangs 5 ​​days a month and never dies ”.

I remember my mother well, after the arrival of menstruation, to remember not to say it absolutely never aloud if I had been in "that moment". I remember the absorbents hidden in the sleeves of the sweater when asked the professor for permission to go to the bathroom, or, currently, the different "shhhhhs!" That my acquaintances thunder me when I say aloud: "Do you have an absorbent?".

I am not an expert sociologist and not even a great intellectual. Over the years and above all growing up, I started noting things that was previously difficult for me to see. You want a bit the culture with which we have always been grown, you want a little society, its consequence, placed and created on repetitive schemes and difficult to influence with respect to the social and historical changes in progress. I always thought that the woman with menstruation was seen as a "out of control" person. Unarmed, in the grip of a hormonal storm that makes it bad, dangerous, nervous. Fragile. As if it could not be able to control your body.  As if it were his choice, a "disorder", his weakness and not a physiologically normal factor. As if, in those days, it was in a physical and emotional situation to be ashamed of, to be hidden, able to transform "the purest and most accommodating woman" into a bad and sexually impure monster. It will be for this reason, who knows, that during pregnancy, and therefore in the absence of menstruation, the woman is always adored and venerated. It is called more beautiful, radiant, more calm. More pure. As if, in some way, we could be defined as so only as mothers or about to become so.

Some time ago, I stumbled upon a very interesting article. The journalist, of course, was a woman and reported some extracts of Giuliana Sgrena's book "God hates women". In 5 minutes of reading, the vision of female menstruation was summarized according to the religions scattered throughout the world who, over the centuries, have helped to strengthen the idea that women are "guilty" to have menstruation then going to increase the female stigma by condemning them, in fact, to isolation and shame. It compares it in the Koran, in Judaism, Hinduism up to Christianity.

And considering how impactful religions on our culture have, this research makes to say the least as much as it provides a series of responses to patriarchal behavioral models  now strongly rooted.

On the other hand, a few months ago, when I asked my coach how professional female athletes were organized during important competitions if they had the menstrual cycle, in front of my pure curiosity I felt I answered (not from him): "We men, instead , we are always ready. "

As if, in fact, it was a weakness and a choice, something that makes me even more Fragile in the eyes of a category of man, the same who, to support this thesis, is contrary to menstrual leave. Because: you can't have extra "treatments" that I can't have.

And since you complain, buy your absorbents (now luxury goods), since I will never recognize them as essential assets.


Having said that, I wanted to start this article with my story because, after some time, I still carry it in the heart. To contrast the clear difference that there is menstruation, for better or for worse, and speak, without knowing, of menstruation. In order not to see them only as an event, but also as a psychological component, a sense of belonging. I think that, in some way, to freely discuss these can normalize them and contribute to the loss of the negative power that has always accompanied them. Starting to see them not only as a "female condition" but as a topic that concerns each of us.

Valentina Dallari

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