I haven’t done a post on my favourite podcasts but I have mentioned my love for them in fleeting moments through-out my posts. One of my favourites is the podcast, Freakonomics, which talks about the other side of everything from ‘How to win games and beat people’ to ‘The Taboo Trifecta’. The Taboo Trifecta is the story of innovator, entrepreneur and soccer player Miki Agrawal and her establishment of the company Thinx (among others) that produces products for women to support during times of unpredictability, especially surrounding a period. Later tackling issues around bladder leakage and addressing issues such as the way we approach hygiene and ‘taboo’ topics. I particularly enjoyed listening to this talk because of the implications on women if periods are normalised and talked about. In fact, not just periods and bladder leakage but anything to do with the uterus or female body seems to be shunned only making it harder to discuss in a personal, meaningful and intellectually appreciative way.
I would consider myself a feminist as much as I consider myself a human and a woman. I am often curious about the need to constantly label oneself or others with terms; ‘Feminist’, ‘Indian’, ‘woman’, ‘man’, ‘heterosexual’, for example. To what end will this labelling exist? Is it human nature? Being from a background that is Indian and Welsh but growing up in Australia has made me indifferent to patriotism in favour of the more accepting ‘global citizen’ tag. Though this might be harder for those to strongly associate with a country or culture, but I cannot comment on that. I am often averse to the results that being very patriotic can produce. For example, Trump’s America signifies a certain type of nationalism that makes me cringe. I find it horrendous that someone would choose to tie a flag around their neck or apply a temporary tattoo. In Australia the impact of this sort of behaviour can seem insensitive to the plight of the native community and my lack of comfort seems to me muddled with both these feelings, of no singular connection to a country and the problems that arise with being overly patriotic in Australia. Is it so wrong to love people who are not your country? Or care about those people who might have different views or lifestyle to you? Perhaps to an extent, but maybe compassion and understanding that our experiences influence a person.
These problems with labelling arises when someone refuses social labelling norms for their own understanding of who they are. If I said, I was born in India but lived most of my life in Australia would you contend that I am not Australian, based on my looks or where I was born? Then why would you label someone a woman or a man such if they didn’t wish to identify with the rigid expectations that binds them to that gender? Food for thought.
More on the labelling, I’ve heard the argument from people that they don’t want to label themselves, but rather don’t want to be labelled as feminists due to the negative connotations associated with the term. Upon some reflection, it’s necessary to note, I think that it is human nature to label for easier mental cognition and abstaining from the label perhaps shows a lack of understanding of the term or a way to distance oneself from the stigma associated with it.
I struggle to understand the taboo that exists around that word and the way some ill-informed people have made it synonymous with a hatred of men. This way of thinking is not only dangerous but can have adverse effects for the most vulnerable people in a community. Not only is feminism empowering for women but it provides support systems for those people who have cultural colouration, gender fluidity or struggle to ascribe to the rigid norms laid out by gender expectations.
A Guardian article discussing the nature of using euphemistic terms to talk about periods brought up an interesting point about the inability to discuss periods. What can we do about this? Elizabeth Enochs has a few ideas that will help us tackle this issue, head-on with no reservations. Here they are: 1. Normalise periods, 2. Acknowledge the effects of period shaming, 3. Consider this a feminists issue, and 4. Fight for it.
Unapologetically discuss something that is a very big part of a lot of womens lives. (Note: make sure to be careful discussing periods as something experienced by all women, all people who identify as women do not experience this and it isn;t up to you to ask why)! Talking about periods is not just to alert people to the negative aspects of the menstrual cycle but also discuss the positive life bringing process by which nature functions. Normalising periods is also essential for women, especially those in countries in which womens issues are taboo. They might find themselves with limited rights and the understanding that periods are natural will enable them to get treatment and help to stay hygienic and healthy. Stigmatising periods can have very dire consequences for women in cultures where a woman with a period is considered tainted and may not have the right to demonstrate or utilise her voice. Making sure that you know that fighting for womens rights makes fighting for periods a feminist issue, fight for it! Your voice is important, utilise it and being articulate and kind to those who may not have experienced a particular way of thinking can really help you get your point across.
Remember to be appreciate of the powers you have as a woman today (I’m thinking of countries such as Australia). The right to fight should never be taken for granted, and Happy International Women’s day!
~ Let me know what other ideas you might have on the topic, I’m always interested!
The above image is from Rupi Kaur.