“Why is vaginal bleeding glorified but not runny noses?”

I found this comment online and want to respond to it: I seriously have to wonder why vaginal bleeding should be so glorified, and not say, runny noses.”

I think there are three reasons why some women celebrate menstruation:

1. To counter the shame (and silence) of menstruation: Most women who are “glorifying” periods are doing it to counter the shame (and silence) that society puts on menstruation. Our society sees menstruation (and particularly menstrual blood) as absolutely gross. Societal taboos make periods something that women have to go through silently while hiding all evidence (for instance, most women are too embarrassed to use a hot water bottle at work, or to say “I have menstrual cramps” when calling in sick).

2. As a way to see a difficult inescapable event more positively: Menstruation hurts, it gives many women PMS, and it is messy. Women may feel proud of menstruating because it makes them stronger people, and because it connects them to most other women (it is something that generally only women understand). Women may also feel proud of menstruating simply as a way to cope with it. However horrible it often is, most women do have to menstruate each month, and it may be easier for them to deal with it if they can see the positives in it instead of just the negatives.

3. Menstruation indicates fertility – Menstruation ties women to the ‘circle of life’. It indicates that we are healthy, and it is a sign that we are fertile. Menstruation is a time for many women to ‘reconnect’ with their body, get to know it better, and nurture it more.

 For me, menstruation is a significant & painful event that my body undergoes each month, so I can’t just ignore it like I would a nosebleed. On the first two days of my period each month I am thinking about it most of the time because of the pain.

Because my period affects me quite a lot it cannot just be a neutral event for me, I have to assign some meaning to it (whether positive, negative, or mixed). My period is a mixed blessing but I choose  be proud of it & to place importance on the good things about it.

Women who have much more difficult & painful periods than mine might find it a struggle to do anything but totally resent them, but even then their periods mean something – they are not neutral, meaningless events like nosebleeds.

The only time the significance of menstruation could be compared to that of a nosebleed is when women have easy periods with little pain. For women like that, having a period might be a simply a meaningless, neutral and forgettable monthly event (much like a nosebleed).

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