August 12, 2011

Because this is the Internet, let’s just say I have a lot of mental anguish, and I’ll keep the details to myself.

Because I am a woman with a currently-functioning reproductive system, I also have monthly cycles. Y’know, I get my period.

The Common Wisdom holds that women get emotional right around That Time of the Month, which is a bad thing. I’m a bit of a late bloomer in understanding my personal cycles because I went through a period in my early 20s when I only had one cycle over the course of three years. That was due to two pregnancies plus two bouts of on-demand nursing (the natural birth control!) The Extreme Feminist in me, however, has never held truck with the idea that women being more emotional at certain times in their cycle is a bad thing. For a while I didn’t even believe that really happened, and I thought that it was possibly a cultural construction. I still don’t know about that.

But really, how many times have you heard someone say, “Oh that it explains it, her period just started.” How many times have you said it? How many times have you heard it crudely and disparagingly stated on television?

But back to mental anguish.

Some days my mental anguish gets really bad. I don’t necessarily control when those days are. I try to be aware and prevent things from getting too bad. That’s the best I can do right now. I do pay attention to the calendar, though, and I can’t find a pattern to suggest that the bad days happen with greater frequency when my period is about to start. Some months, my period starts, and I think, “Hmmm, I was feeling totally fine this last week. No bad days at all.” Other months, my period starts, and I think, “Oh, that explains it, my period just started.” That’s a pretty dismissive statement I make to myself about real events in my life.

I tend to think my body chemistry and my monthly cycles do affect the way I feel. I’m sure there are a lot of smart science people figuring this out at the molecular level.

Regardless of the observations on my own cycles of reproductive health and mental anguish, I want to ask why is it OK to dismiss the way a woman feels because it’s due to her period? This American culture seems to think that it’s OK. Does being on one’s period make a woman’s responses and behavior less real or important? It’s called biochemistry, and it’s real.

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