The new rules of the rule

We verified it in the last edition of Triumph operation: The young women do not maintain the relationship with the body that, in general, we have experienced in previous generations. The normality with which they have confessed not to wax or how do they refer to the rule It has left us stunned. How and when has this chip change occurred, that we have not seen it coming? How many of us can still go to the bathroom with the tampon hidden in our pocket while Aitana is able to announce at the signing of records: "I go five minutes to the bathroom that I have the period"?

Those of us who learned to experience menstruation as a silenced horror, almost like Carrie (unforgettable Sissy Spacek) in her shower, today witness her emergence into the public with a certain sense of having fallen into a trap. What made us so ashamed? Where did that self-contempt come from? Remember: until not long ago they worked superstitions that forbade us from washing our heads, making mayonnaise or touching plants if we had the period. Luckily, we have deactivated prejudices and we have the important thing: to make sure that women living in poverty, on the streets or in refugee camps have access to the hygienic products they need or end with the pink rate that taxes these products as if they were caviar: with luxury VAT (10%). Millenials are committed to a happy 'menstrual revolution': we update our software. These are the new rules.

1. End of silence

Menstruation has gone from intimate or hygienic to star in the story. Most of us attribute meaning to the rule through two television referents: the compress advertisements, where the primary objective remains that nothing gets stained; and that Blue Summer chapter and her 'Bea is a woman', which picked up the naturalized meaning of the menstrual: an instantaneous mutation that took us from childhood to the next stage without clarifying what exactly that was beyond the new monthly nuisance. In general, the pop culture ignored the rule and the female characters never suffered, neither for good nor for bad. Today, the issue has been integrated into television narrations orchestrated by women: 'Fleabag', 'Broad City', 'Girls', 'Vis a vis' … The stigma that menstruation still entails in countries like India is part of the story of 'This is my blood' (Tin can) the book with which the French journalist Élise Thiébaut deactivates interested myths. Lola (Lumen), from the Chilean illustrator Alejandra Lunik, approaches her in a fun ironic way, while the Spanish Raquel Riba Rossy uses her as a symbol of empowerment of her star character: Lola Vendetta. Also from here is the fanzine 'Rule ', in which' menstruation is drawn, felt, seen and heard as something beautiful '.

2. Dismantling the stigma

The consideration of the rule as something dirty is not natural: it is a cultural and social construction that, fortunately, is mutating. Anthropology once again came to the aid of women in their task of piercing the strength of taboo. At the beginning of the last century, Margaret Mead discovered that in Samoa menstruation did not imply a loss of prestige, because her society was not organized in patriarchal terms. In its culture it was linked to the worship of the fertile deities, while in ours it makes us feel dirty, uncomfortable and inappropriate. Currently, the only acceptable rule is one that does not move, you do not notice, you do not feel: we have deleted it from the map. In the book 'Women's thing: menstruation, gender and power(South American), Eugenia Tarzibachi explains how the appearance of feminine hygiene products allowed the construction of an amenstrual female body, where the 'defective' of the women's body was masked. But, under this 'woman's liberation', the issue of stigma remained unresolved. The shame before the possibility that a red spot penetrates the clothes continues affecting us.

In Afghanistan, they believe that those who wash during the rule are sterile.

'The logic applied to it is that of concealment, as to other fluids considered impure -Says Begoña Enguix, anthropologist expert in gender and body and director of the degree of Anthropology at the UOC-. Although it is true that there is more and more openness, the rule is continued invisibilizando to hide a feminine specificity that puts us in a position of inferiority, because it supposes bad humor, emotional instability … For that reason, to avoid criticism or control, the best thing is not to name it ". Or dye it blue in the compress ads.

In 'This is my blood', Élise Thiébaut says that knowing the history of menstruation involves entering into the genesis of human society. Thiébaut quotes the anthropologist Alain Testart, who argues that if women had weapons banned and, therefore, hunting, it was because of the symbolic prohibition of mixing blood (the menstrual and the hunted animal). Therefore, the rule as cultural taboo would also be at the origin of the sexual division of labor that we still suffer today. Is not it fascinating?

3. The rule of those who can not afford it

As the law of silence falls, we know the menstrual secrets of women that we never imagined in this trance. In 2016, swimmer Fu Yuanhui astonished the audience by explaining that the fourth position of her team in the Olympic Games in Rio was because she had the rule. A year earlier, tennis player Heather Watson explained that she had dropped out of the Australian Open for the same reason, allowing compatriot and athlete Paula Radcliffe to report that 'the sport has not yet learned to treat menstruation', because even sports doctors do not investigate this question. Incredible but true: we do not have enough studies to verify how the rule affects sports performance.

The taboo not only applies to the elite of sport, but to the highest poverty. The refugees they are in a total lack of protection: only social organizations try to alleviate the lack of compresses, tampons and wipes that suffer in the refugee camps, where infections are a threat as certain as violence. Unfortunately, there is still no regulation mandating an extension of the refugee aid kit so that it contemplates menstrual hygiene needs.

4. Knowing the world

The social and political consideration of menstruation is an indicator to read the situation of girls and women in society. Throughout the world there is a pre-eminence of cultural taboo and a situation of lack of accessibility to basic measures hygiene where there is poverty. In Bolivia, pads and tampons are not thrown away because menstrual blood is thought to cause illness, including cancer. In Iran, 48% of young women believe that the rule is a disease. In Afghanistan, they think that women who wash during menstruation are sterile. In Nepal, the stigma of impurity is extreme: the chhaupadi rules, a custom that requires menstruating women to be locked up in quarters without electricity or heating or huts in the forest. They are not allowed to touch fresh fruit, milk, vegetables or livestock for fear of being contaminated. In some areas they can not read or write so as not to anger the gods.

5. From crying to super powers

With the deconstruction of the stigma, the narrative about the rule is enriched with nuances. Without going so far as to deny premenstrual syndrome, the myth of attributing bad humor to us on those days of the month is questioned. Dr. Sarah Romans, of the University of Otago (New Zealand), reviewed the studies on mood swings attributed to PMS and concluded that more than half of them did not really connect menstruation with moodiness. On the other hand, the increase in progesterone that occurs in the second half of the menstrual cycle are comparable to emotional highs and lows that produce testosterone fluctuations in men.

23% of girls in India drop out of school because they do not have access to compresses.

In addition, the unique story of menstruation, that which links pregnancy and fertility, breaks with readings that underline it as an indicator of health and a factor of longevity. The flow announces when something does not work well: monitoring its color, smell and duration is very useful and allows us to know ourselves and be more aware of our health. In fact, the rule is one of the factors that explains why women live longer. A study from the School of Medicine at the University of California discovered in 2016 that women who have their first period and late menopause increase their chances of living nine decades.

6. Challenges: From education to health

The breaking of the taboo has unleashed the claim to governments. The issue is transversal: it involves a reflection on the educational, fiscal and welfare aspects. Let's ask ourselves: How is the rule discussed in schools? On the other hand, the question of taxes also demands a revision. After a campaign led by the model Adwoa Aboah, the British government announced that everything raised by the call 'pink rate' (that which taxes female hygiene products with the luxury tax) it would be dedicated to alleviating 'menstrual poverty': it would result in impoverished British families. In November 2017, the Canary Islands government canceled the 3% rate in effect in the islands (in the peninsula we have 10% instead of the 4% that is applied to the products of first necessity). In the assistance, the urgency has to do with imprisoned or homeless women: why is not access to these products considered a human right that is dispensed free in cases of maximum need?

7. The speaker

One of Meghan Markle's most celebrated decisions was to invite seven representatives of as many charities and donate their wedding gifts. Among them was his favorite and only non-British: the Myna Mahila Foundation, dedicated to supplying compresses and tampons to the women of Indian slums to fight against the so-called 'menstrual poverty'. According to Unicef, 23% of Indian girls abandon their education because they do not have access to compresses or bathrooms. In Ethiopia, 56% of girls do not go to class during the rule because they lack hygienic material. At Sub-Saharan Africa, girls lose 20% of class days for this same reason. The Duchess of Sussex traveled to Mumbay in 2017 to learn about Mahila's work firsthand, and on the way back she wrote an essay for Time magazine in which she defended the end of the taboo about 'the most natural thing in the world'.

8. Discover our cyclical nature

One step beyond the clinic, hygiene and politics is the evidence of being connected to a hormonal cycle, a succession of phases whose presence may depend both on the constitution of each body and the attention we give them. Erika Irusta, a menstrual pedagogue and founder of the community, focuses on benefits of knowing the personal hormonal cocktail and the chemical changes it produces. The key is to dissect the four phases of the menstrual cycle and its physical, psychological and psychic characteristics: a coming and going of estrogen and progesterone that makes our body complain (pain, irritability …) if it is not in balance. Stress, poor diet, fatigue or productivity demands affect this kind of meter of maximum receptivity of our quality of life which is our menstrual cycle.

9. Sexual pleasure: Pros and precautions

Sexologists blame the greater lubrication and tension of the vagina, and the rise and fall of estrogen, a possible increase in sexual pleasure in relationships during menstruation. Certain variations in the position of the cervix could also intervene in the variations of pleasure in this circumstance. In addition, having sex with the rule decreases menstrual pain thanks to the release of oxytocin and endorphins. On the other hand, there is a slight increase in the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Maximum precautions.


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