The first menstruation

All that we would like to be heard on the place of "You have become a young lady".


If I could go back and visit theə you stessə At the appearance of your first menstruation, what would you tell you?
It is a question that I have done recently, and I think I would now answer: “Welcome to patriarchy 2.0! You just unlocked a new level! ".

In reality I consider myself lucky enough for my first experience with menstruation, especially from a family point of view.
The first time I saw the blood on my underwear was evening, I was about to go to bed. It was rather unequivocal and I knew what was going on, but my first approach was the denial. I pulled them up and went to sleep, simply I didn't want it and I hoped that the next day it would magically disappear. I felt a feeling of discomfort and shame, nobody had to know. I couldn't stand it that he was going on
to me, I lived it as a real high betrayal of my body. At a time when he did nothing but disappoint me, changing, modifying himself, swelling in new curves and in my eyes horribly disproportionate, the menstrual cycle was the last stabbing to my already precarious self -esteem.

But the next morning he was not only left, but he screamed even stronger and more prevailing his cumbersome presence in my sheets. You could no longer pretend anything, so with the passage of those who have no escape in front of his destiny, I went to the bathroom, and there I called my mother, as if I accidentally had just discovered it. I showed her the situation worried, and she very sweetly went to take clean and comfortable underwear. He put the first absorbent, showing me how he was doing, then he asked me about and if I prefer not to go to school. And I who had already been Swiss enough by the whole situation and wanted to reset a semblance of normality as soon as possible, I decided that of course I would go to school. But middle school are a difficult period, especially if you have a huge and cumbersome presence in the middle of the legs, which moves at every step and makes you feel constantly dirtyə and diversə. I remember that when I entered the classroom, it was as if allə they knew it. I was careful to move in the most natural of possible ways, and before the bell of the interval I mentally review the steps to take the absorbent in the backpack, put it in my pocket, get up without dirty, get to the bathroom, change me without making noise And throw the absorbent used in the basket (rigorously outside the bathrooms) without showing me by anyone. Because nobody had to know that I had menstruation.

Now, before writing this article, I decided to confidentially interview some people with menstruation, to compare experiences and understand in a nutshell, if only I had experienced the menstrual cycle in medium in such a traumatic way or if it were a Shared and generalizing experience.
And actually what emerged is divided into two levels: how the theme has been addressed in a family context, and later at school-educational level.

In the first case, the testimonies range in an absolute way: in many families the menstruation were hidden and excluded from the table topics, paid by the mothers with a "you already know everything, right?", In others acclaimed and celebrated with phone calls to relatives and To family friends, accompanied by moved speeches on life and entry into the "world of women".

Both approaches demonize menstruation: making them a topic taboo We end up talking about menstrual cycle only when and if It becomes a problem, as in the face of the pains of the cramps. It comes like this pathologized, it exists only when it manifests itself above the lines. And in any case often not validated, not even in physical pain.
Instead, by enhancing it and charging it with who knows what symbolic meaning linked to the femininity, to the become women, A similar result is obtained: the menstrual cycle is denatured and its appearance is experienced collectively in a binary cultural perspective that attributes it to existence as women.

As if to be woman We must necessarily menstruate, a type of naive (and inevitably traditionalist) speech which is not only excluding for transgender women, people in menopause or with conditions that prevent the presence of menstruation, but that misfortera (i.e. attributes a genre to a person who does not identify in such), in a rather violent way, non -binary people and transgender children with menstruation. And reduces the "woman", once again, to its simple biological functions.

But the most significant experience is often the one lived in the educational-writing field. To most people the first menstruation appear during the middle school period (around twelve years). Now, Italy does not provide for any type of compulsory training in the field of sexual education in schools, therefore each institute decides autonomously, influenced by the socio -cultural context and by the political or religious currents behind the institute. It is not so surprising therefore that many people, in the face of their first menstruation, have never heard of it, if not in a very theoretical way during some hasty lessons of elementary and medium sciences, in which at most the phases of the cycle are illustrated menstrual and the journey of the egg into the female reproductive system.

As far as I'm concerned, no educational institute has ever taught me to put an absorbent. No institute has ever mentioned the existence of invisible gynecological diseases connected to menstrual pain (such as endometriosis), or has taught me to recognize its symptoms. No institute has ever explained to me in the practical how to live with my body during the various phases of the menstrual cycle, like the different hormones that come into play they influence my mood and how to live their appearance serenely. And I think these considerations, if we concern our past, are worth a lotə.

And if we add to this the fact that the menstrual blood proves only at a representative level a huge cultural taboos (think of the blue droplets that are shown to us on television in the advertising of absorbent), it is easy to be frightened and panic when at twelve together At a bit of stomach ache for the first time your body spits something totally new and uncontrollable on your underwear. And it is easy to understand how the biggest terror for aə kidsə With menstruation is dirtying the pants or that runs away an absorbent out of the backpack.

The whole society around us, on various levels, implicitly or explicitly, pushes us to live menstruation as a private experience, which must be hidden and managed with discretion and demeanor, which it is good do not mention it. So you end up asking by whispering your companions if they have an absorbent because "your things" have come to you, because their name is also a reason for embarrassment, and to make passages of under-bagless absorbents, they weren't even illegal.

Then growing, things improve, we acquire awareness and security, and we learn about our skin that we don't care, political by political. But this after being becomingə Strong and Sicurə, which when you are twelve, from Solə Faced with your first menstruation, you are not.

Therefore, to return to the initial question, if I could go back and visit theə you stessə At the appearance of your first menstrual cycle, what would you tell you?
That it would have been nice if a public and specialized public body had been dealt with this type of training, such as school. That it would have been much better if the education in this regard had been horizontal and accessible to all
ə, boys, girls and girlsə, and not left in the hands of families do-it-yourself. Which is not and must not be a topic to keep closed in the bathroom, that you do not It makes more or less woman, which indeed has nothing to do with your gender identity, and does not make you more or less valid as a person. Which is not dirty, neither physically, nor culturally. Which may be painful or it may not be, but that if it will be excessively, you will be listened toə and creditə, at least from your network, which will help you turn toə specialistə adequateə. But above all, even if it seems that nobody talks about it, maybe it won't be like that forever. That you are not solə, and they are not just yours, they are the menstruation of Tuttə.


Valeria Regis

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