How To Take
Menstruation From A
Moment To A Movement
Changing norms around menstruation
By Inga T. Winkler
Menstruation is having its moment. Countries
across the world start addressing period
poverty. We see menstruation gaining traction in the
media. Millions of people use menstrual trackers.
And ads for menstrual products with their infamous
blue liquid are letting go of some of these tropes.
However, menstrual stigma is still rife in society, and
how we perceive and treat people who menstruate
must be addressed. We police and self-police how
we act and talk about menstruation. Often we
perceive or label menstruators as overemotional
and less competent. Just think of PMS and all its
associations—this is a stigma in action.
We are all complicit in perpetuating menstrual
stigma, even despite our best efforts. But this also
means we all have the means to change norms
around menstruation—how do we take this moment
and ensure a menstrual movement?
●● People who menstruate: Stop referring to ‘that
time of the month,’ ‘being on the rag’ or ‘lady
business.’ Be vocal about your experience
menstruating. Remain calm at the sight of
blood. Resist the urge to wrap used menstrual
products into layers over layers of toilet paper.
Have sex during menstruation if you feel like it.
Or don’t, if you don’t.
●● Non-menstruators: Now is the time to listen
and educate yourself. Understand there is
a diversity of experiences of the menstrual
cycle—and the same goes for peri-menopause
and menopause. Strike stereotypes from your
●● Those with Children: Take menstruation out
of the (water) closet. Normalize & familiarize.
Children learn from adults in their life, and they
start young. This doesn’t mean you have to
have ‘the talk’ about menstruation, but instead
integrate menstruation into everyday life and
conversations. Those who start menstruating
at some point will be prepared thanks to
improved body literacy, and those who don’t
will consider menstruation a normal part of life.
●● Educators: Menstrual health, its norms, and its
politics should be incorporated into curricula.
Body literacy education is key. This can be part
of sex ed, but menstruation should also be part
of social studies and/or biology! Personally,
one of the most interesting courses I’ve ever
taught is on Menstruation, Gender, and Rights
in which we explore menstruation through a
range of different perspectives from biological
changes over the life course to cultural
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