Thanks to my mother for painstakingly editing it with me.
Cloth Pads are not a new concept. Cloth was used for ages before disposable sanitary towels came into the market. The cloth pads as we know today are a versatile piece of clothing that can be adapted according to the flow of blood during the period. There are many different ones that can be made, but this is what I have felt to be easy to sew, and use.
Step 1 (Drafting and Cutting)
Step 2 (Sewing the inner layer and the toweling fabric together)
Step 3 (Joining the two layers and Snipping)
Step 4 (Reversing)
Step 5 (Attaching the Snap Fasteners)
A large thank you to my sister, and my father... For helping me edit it.
I wish everyone a very happy International Menstrual Hygiene day. Today is an important day for all humans around the world because this day signifies the need to talk openly about menstruation and the truth and taboos surrounding it.
About 20% of girls in India drop out of school when they hit menarche and many do not go to school the three to five days they have their period because schools don't have a proper water system to change their sanitary towels. What's worse, these girls are taught by the adults around them, that they can't go near boys or talk to them during their period for fear that they would get pregnant immediately. Menstruating girls are prohibited from going to temples and mosques when it's their time of month out of a belief that it is disrespectful to God. People of faith often use God as an excuse to discriminate against menstruating women. If God truly were an all encompassing and infinitely benevolent being, would she/he be okay with ostracizing half his children for all of their reproductive lives?
These beliefs don’t even scratch the surface of the large number of myths that surround menstruation. Women are often prohibited from wearing white for fear of staining their clothes in public. Another popular myth is that menstruating women touching cows renders the bovines infertile. Many households don't allow women in the kitchen if they're on their period.
Some of the more garish practices involve segregating the woman from the household because she is considered impure and hence untouchable.
Last November, people questioned why women from the ages of ten through fifty weren't allowed in the famous Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The chief of the Sabarimala Devaswom Board, Prayar Gopalakrishnan replied that menstruating women were impure and hence, not allowed. He also stated that until there was a machine that could detect when a woman was on her period, the blanket ban would continue.
Why is it that these archaic customs and beliefs are still in practice? Why then isn't there a conversation about the menstrual myths?
This, to put it quite simply is because talking about periods is a big fat NO NO. Women cannot talk loudly about periods lest someone overhears them. Men aren't even supposed to know about it. Menstruation is considered to be something impure, unclean and totally yucky. It MUST be kept on the down low, all hushed up. Women live under constant fear for being judged for their basic biology.
How are you expected to move forward when you've got the next generation, the adolescents stuck lagging behind? As long as there aren't proper facilities for girls at schools, many will stay home, unable to access basic education. As long as access to proper sanitary products is limited, gender equality will remain a faraway dream. As long as people don't speak up against menstrual taboos, they're taking gender equality back a hundred steps.
Sanitary products are important because so many women all over use rags and dirty cloths to absorb the blood. Girls can't dispose of the mainstream pads like Whisper and Stayfree. Moreover these pads are extremely toxic to the environment. Of course it impacts both men and women, that's why it is an issue. The commercial sanitary napkin takes forever to decompose, and it is so chemically active. The bleaching that each pad goes through to make it look cleaner involves so many chemicals, it is appalling.
Girls and boys alike, we need an alternative to watching our beloved earth die slowly and steadily. We need something that helps the earth and doesn't even harm our bodies. To this, cloth pads are one. Another are menstrual cups.
Cloth pads seem like a new invention but people have been doing something similar for ages. Now, many brands like Eco-femme are producing cloth pads, but the easiest way out if you've got some cloth, needle and a thread is doing it yourself.
I made the switch about six months ago, inspired by a You Tuber. Now, I don't get as many cramps anymore and my heart feels lighter because I've lessened my carbon footprint.
Starting at menstrual myths till menstrual products, I think I've covered the thread I had in my head. And since today is the international Menstrual hygiene day, the twenty eighth (because each cycle has roughly 28 days) of May (because an average woman gets her period for five days), I want to ask you all, to go ahead and talk with somebody about periods (not involving even a single snicker), because talking openly helps understanding. If we understand we can get past the taboos. And change the present.
This is only what I have learnt from what I have read and some of my opinions. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
For the past week, I have been researching feminism madly. I have been reading about its history, how it isn't fighting against men but the patriarchy that that the society has been upholding for ages immemorial. The fact is, the three phases of feminism (or waves) that have been seen all stand for different things. The first one was the suffragette movement. which was the fight for the voting rights for women. The second wave stood for the social equality for women and men alike. The third wave, which all of us are living through, is much more complex than the previous two, ( As i understand, and please correct me if I'm wrong!) because it doesn't only deal with cisgender straight females but also talks about rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgenders.
Moreover, from what I have learnt, is that feminism is a movement to create equal social, political and reproductive rights for all. And the reason this movement is called feminism and not "humanism" or "equal-ism" is because of the continued disenfranchisement of women, throughout history.
Recently, many men have openly proclaimed that they are feminists. These men who include famous people like Farhan Akhtar, Daniel Radcliffe, David Schwimmer and John Legend to name a few, have spoken out on how feminism doesn't only concern women. Some have said that the patriarchy holds not only women but also men in its suffocating closed fist.
It tells women that they have to be submissive, law-abiding, and shows them how to dress and look. Girls are called sluts if they wear clothes that seem to 'provoke' men and 'encourage their staring'. They are told that 'men will be men'. They are cat-called, sexually harassed and at the end of it, it becomes THEIR FAULT.
Men on the other hand, have to face patriarchy on a whole other level. They have to look in control, powerful and have to be tall and muscular. If a boy likes pink, it is seen as an awful crime. If a boy shows even a hint of being feminine, they are called gay or f*g. It doesn't end there. Boys are taught not to cry by the very adults who should be teaching them to be themselves. If a boy is in touch with his emotional self, he is told to 'man up!'
I feel as though I must take a stand on this, because I feel that it is thoroughly unacceptable to be part of a society that stifles everyone's individuality. That wants to segregate people based on their sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity and race. I simply refuse to be a part of a society that tries to typecast everyone based on their sex assigned at birth.
And what appalls me the most is that there are many boys in my class who think that feminism is only for girls, or think that feminism is anti-men, because many have proven time and again that it isn't. It is a fight against the patriarchy, for the liberation of all, regardless of whether they are men or women or transgender; whether they are lesbian gay or bisexual.
I strongly believe that it isn't for us to judge, or to discriminate. You can't label colors to genders; you cannot create beauty standards; you can't tell people what they can or cannot like. A person chooses who they want to be.
It is our responsibility as people to make a change. Everyone has something to do. People with influence, for instance should use their power as catalysts for change. Musicians should use their music to promote individuality and not age-old 'values' to dress up for their men. Directors should use their movies as a platform for social change. Parents should tell their children that everyone is the same: human, and how individuality is the best thing in life.
Over the past few weeks, I have been observing a few things.. What I do, say and think. And I have discovered a few things about myself that I never knew before. Some of these discoveries amaze me, disturb me and others make me think.
The first one of these, concerns my social networking life. I am a person who does use Facebook( and maybe somewhat excessively) and the new ( or what I believe is new, because I've been away four months at boarding school) addition to Facebook's 'liking' a post thing has created a problem for me. Previously, you could just like a post or scroll away. With the addition of: LOVE, HAHA, WOW, SAD, and ANGRY I am baffled. Going through my news feed used to be an easy daily task where I liked whatever and just didn't think about it. Now I am too confused to do anything. If I honestly love a post, I wonder if someone will view me differently because of it. If I react differently, what will they think? I also take some time to see whether any college that I will apply to, two years from now, will check my profile and all the posts I like to accept me. The ONLINE Footprint that I'm leaving is really scaring me. And I do all of this thinking while I casually eat some cake and tell my mother not to overthink her posts or how many people like them, or whether it was rude to post on somebody's wall just to tell them to stop sending Candy Crush requests. And I wonder why I am always turning around to ask someone's opinion on everything I do. Be it my question about whether they like my new haircut which I've been meaning to get for over a year.. Or what they think of my freshly made Chocolate Cake.
This thought appalls me and thoroughly surprises me as well because throughout my time at Rishi Valley School ( which is precisely four years now) I have prided myself on being different, carefree and not being affected by what other people say or think of me, especially my classmates. I have even taken being called weird a compliment and later corrected people because " I'm me, not weird."
I really don't know why I do this, but it scares me. It scares me that I am constantly depending on other people to make my choices, and what if.. I don't make the right one in the end.
And onto a more perturbing note, that is more that is worse than asking people their opinion on what I do, to feel accepted. To say something, to call yourself something you have no idea about and to create a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT person so as be part of everyone else. If not everyone else, then what I perceive to be the 'cooler crowd'.
I've read Wikipedia articles about various topics and took a stand on it. Not based on my opinion, but what somebody else thought about it. Pretty soon, I wasn't thinking on my own and was some idiot of a "rip off". I created a person I never intended to be. And I know nothing about everything. I just want a do over, a re-test. I want to make amends. And find out WHO I AM.