You guys. Is it too much information if I complain about my period on my blog? How about to other people? What about dude people? What about dude people I don't even really know that well?
And if it makes them uncomfortable, should I care?
As I am getting older, I am increasingly unable to tell what is appropriate for conversation anymore. I blame some of this on being a middle school teacher. As a middle school teacher, your job, in being a good role model for your kids as well as a good sex-ed teacher, is to be very matter-of-factual about everything. I mean, ok, whenever I would begin any conversation about sex at the start of the year, I would say to my class, "Alright folks, everyone say, 'Penis.'" And they would say it and laugh uproariously. And then I would say, yeah, ok, say it again. Say it again. Say it again. And I'd have them keep saying "penis" until it had become not funny anymore. And then I would say, "GREAT! Now everyone say vagina!" And we'd repeat this. And then when everyone was done with the giggles, we could begin.
I can also tell you, as a teacher, there is NO STORY, no matter how embarrassing, shameful, gross, or unflattering you will NOT TELL to make a teaching point. I have told my students pretty much fucking EVERYTHING if they had important questions and I thought it would help the discussion. For instance: "Yeah, ok, once I had a condom break on me, and I didn't handle it well and freaked out. That was not helpful! This could happen to you! But these are what your options are after you have stopped freaking out." As a teacher, everything becomes just . . . part of being a human being. You stop remembering sexual things are supposed to be loaded. Because there are a bunch of little people in front of you and they really need to know about their own bodies and sexual health and the emotional stuff too, all of it, not just how to get a condom on a banana (which we also practiced). I wanted them to be safe. I wanted them to trust themselves, and to listen, and to understand and prize consent. Talking about sex was about their very mental and physical integrity, it was about life or death, and as such I treated it with solemnity and seriousness.
And also: you get a bunch of kids really blase about body stuff, and hilarity will ensue. One afternoon when I was teaching seventh grade we had some free time, and one of my boys puts his hand up and says, "Miss, ok, can I ask? Periods. You just bleed every month? Like, what the hell." And so, you know, I explained, complete with a diagram on the board, and the ladies weighed in on the shittiness of cramps and started rooting through their bags and pulling out pads and tampons, showing the boys what they were like. And the boys, for whatever reason, freaked. Here is a pad, in a wrapper, and these giant badass teenage boys were screeching and lunging from their chairs shrieking, "OH MY GOD DON'T TOUCH ME WITH A PAD." And the girls, of course, laughed at them, and were all, "YOU IDIOTS, calm down. What is WRONG with you? It's just plastic, JESUS."
Eventually the boys attempted to regain some shreds of their dignity and with deep trepidation handle these terrifying, foreign objects of plastic and cotton (Me: "Guys, don't you live with women?" One of my boys: "Yeah, but I stay FAAAAAAR away from that stuff."). If there was anything my kids were always good at, though, it was getting their shit together and handling things with grace. Or SOMETHING like grace, because by the end of the period, half my boys had pads open and stuck to their bodies in various places. AS YOU DO.
So, you know, that can kinda fuck with your ideas about what is appropriate for polite conversation, I feel.
I think living in India made me get over a lot, because when you and your roommates are wary of tummy bugs, and often get tummy bugs, there are a lot of conversations over the breakfast table about poo. And finally, well, when it comes down to it: I just don't give a shit about polite conversation. I've no interest in being polite. Bleeding makes men uncomfortable? Let me call them a waaaambulance! No one wants to be reminded of my sexuality? Get the fuck over yourselves! Bodies and their functions make people squidgy? HOW??? And what is really the difference between me complaining of cramps and me complaining of a headache? I can't think of an answer to that.
It's not just me complaining about cramps. Sometimes I will just tell folks about my sex life. I talk loudly about sex with other people, both academically and about the sex I am personally having, A LOT. E. and I once had a conversation about genital warts, a conversation that could not at all be characterized as quiet or private, at a bar, and it never occurred to us that maybe laughing hysterically about HPV (ok: probably not funny when you have it) was perhaps not helping anyone enjoy their drinks. I will also occasionally announce to folks I have to poo. I just . . . you know? Like, why not? Every reason I can think of for why not is stupid. Or indefensible. Our discomfort with our bodies and other people's bodies and the shit we do as biological, living creatures is just not something I want to indulge.
So, you know what, folks? I have horrid cramps right now. And my cramps can get ten times worse when I use a tampon, so I am in that place right now where every time I stand up, I feel like I am losing an organ between my legs (Ladies: YOU ALSO HATE THIS FEELING, I KNOW).* I have an auto-immune disease that makes my period especially bad, so I'll probably have to take a narcotic to dull the cramp pain enough to sleep tonight. And I have the busiest day ever tomorrow. BOOO, to being a lady.
If anyone else would like to complain about anything, here's your chance. I respect and appreciate you and your body, so anything you want to talk about it doing is totally fine by me. We always hear from New-Agey-type people that your body is your temple and blah blah blah, but sometimes your body does gross things and it hurts and it's a pain in the ass. So feel free to whinge! And with that, I have to end this post, because I really have to pee.
*Note: I know that there are some lady-identified folks and cisgender lady folks who do not get their periods - I realized the language I'd used was incorrect after I wrote the post. I do not wish to make you feel excluded. I realize it should read "Some ladies;" I didn't correct it in the original and am merely doing so down here because I didn't want to erase my complicity in cis-privileged narratives. I apologize.