That night she told her mother she didn’t want to go to grade nine. She’s in grade five so it is a ways off but her mother, being a good sport, asked her why not.
“Because,” she said.
It was bedtime. My niece was in bed, surrounded by 200 of her most favourite stuffed toys. She is adopted. The first four years on this earth were not necessarily easy or loving for her, so if 200 stuffed toys in her bed make her feel good, then so be it.
Silence. Clearly something was troubling my niece. Her mother waited.
A whisper. A bowed head. “I don’t want periods.”
It was a long night for my niece and her mother.
There is fair amount of evidence how swings in hormones and proteins in the brain leading up to and including the first few days of a period can lead some women, even those of us who are lesbians, to behave differently than we might want to behave.
Yet, it’s not politically correct to talk about how those hormone swings and protein changes make some of us feel that we’re at the mercy of forces we can’t control. How some of us feel reduced to quivering, anxious or angry blobs. Not all, and not most. But some. It’s as if somehow we cease to be beings with a prefrontal cortex who, under normal circumstances are clear and rational:
“oh yes, that soupy, loopy mix of chemicals, hormones, proteins in my body are out of whack right now, leaving me with one nerve, making me weepy, anxious, angry and paranoid, and so for the next few days I will not act on what I know are unreasonable thoughts and feelings so that I don’t do anything stupid or silly, and I won’t eat cookies, and ice cream until I feel ugly and unlovable, and I won’t tell my partner I know she’s cheating on me because I am ugly and unlovable and these jeans make my bum look huge… “
Somehow we get foggy and can’t talk ourselves through it. Sometimes we aren’t even aware: it gets pointed out to us. And oh my gosh, don’t we get grumpy then?
It’s not politically correct to say, I hate my period, and I’d be happy to never have it again, and why can’t some mystical magical force make it so that only women or men who want children are the ones that have periods and leave the rest of alone, and if we change our mind then let us have a period for that month and that month only.
It’s even less politically correct to say that those people who do moon dances and fertility dances naked in the rain and think of periods as a great feminine wonder are oh, just this side of nuts.
While the biology is fascinating, periods are a pain in many body parts. Even so, obviously mother nature is worried about us as a species because she’s spreading the love: girls as young as six years old are starting to have their periods, and doctors no longer think it unusual that eight-year old girls get their periods.
But there’s propaganda for them. Those ads on TV? The ones that say Have a Happy period? Who did that creative and who approved it? A HAPPY period? Are you kidding me? Put those people in a lesbian household, in a community of women and come out two months later and let’s see what creative concepts come out of it. Have a happy freaking period. Seriously? And what does that propaganda do to women who will never have an easy period?
One of my friends started to see a rather interesting and attractive woman a number of years ago and once a month, without fail, my friend would call those of us close to her, asking for a sane moment. It seems that this new woman had a rare and extreme version of PMS that turned her from a relatively normal human into an alien Super Bitch Queen of the Universe who chewed up anyone and everyone around her for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We were mystified: why put up with that? Why didn’t she do something to mitigate the impact or effects of her PMS?
I never understood why it’s okay to say, “I get that way with my period, sorry.” As if sorry fixes bad behaviour, fixes treating people badly.
Is it natural to do that? Go with the flow so to speak, even if the flow goes to dark places where we turn into people we don’t even like? Doesn’t awareness of a thing offer an opportunity for change?
Isn’t that what separates us from animals: that self-awareness? The ability to make choices about ways to behave? Even when there’s biology pushing on us, and that soupy mix of hormones feels crazy making, WE can choose how to decide.
As a lesbian, it’s nuts to think that this period thing is not going to have an impact on our life… TWO women, people. Do the math. Not just periods every month….then we’ve got to go through perimenopause, and menopause and post menopause…
Bitch Queen of the Universe is fine in comic books, not so much in your own bathroom.
We have this thing as women, this biology that affects us which we can’t control, but we can manage in any number of ways, unless we choose not to, unless we like the wild rides, the drama, drama, drama and believe that Super Bitch Queen of the Universe is a fine career to aspire to thank you very much and are planning a speaking tour of all the grade schools just to drive that fact home something fierce.