Do you realize that in most of the US, feminine hygiene products are taxed as “luxury” items?
And in many parts of the world, women are too poor to buy pads and tampons?
It gets worse. In some developing countries, due to the cultural stigma surrounding periods, it’s common for girls to miss school every month during their cycle.
And tragically, even in 2019, people are dying because of period stigma.
Why is this happening? There are complex socioeconomic and religious reasons, but there’s a very simple reason, too: Half the world’s population doesn’t have periods, so period education doesn’t get the attention it deserves. We want to change that.
Why Teach Boys About Periods?
Blogger Dana Marlowe has a vested interest in making sure her sons understand what periods are all about. Marlowe founded the non-profit I Support the Girls, a charity that provides bras and menstrual products to homeless women and girls. Because she often has donated menstrual products stored around her home, Marlowe also had a very practical reason for explaining periods to her sons. So, she did just that.
Marlowe says, “I believe fervently that a conversation at home would help children create healthier relationships with women. The more boys fully understand the experiences of their girl peers, the more we can help erase the stigma, shame or even teasing that has been associated with periods.”
Teaching boys about menstruation will instill compassion for their sisters, friends, mothers, and all the future women in their lives. And if boys understand what their peers are going through, that will reduce incidents of teasing about periods. While your son doesn’t have to worry about menstruation for his own sake, the girls and women in his life do, which is reason enough for him to understand what it’s all about.
How to Teach Boys About Periods
As we’ve shared before, the period discussion needn’t come down to one, big dreaded moment. To normalize these conversations, it’s important to discuss the topic early and often with your kids. When your son begins asking questions about the human body, take advantage of those moments as teaching opportunities.
- Keep it simple, and don’t use euphemisms.
- Set a positive tone.
A simple period explanation
When your son sees a tampon in your bathroom cabinet and asks what it’s for, you might explain like this:
Women have a part inside their bodies called a uterus, and that’s where babies grow. It’s where you lived while you were inside me. In order to prepare for making a baby, every month the lining of a woman’s uterus gets thicker. But, if a baby isn’t made, the woman’s body sheds this lining as blood out of her vagina. This happens for about a week every month. What you found in my cabinet is called a tampon, and it’s one of the products women use to collect that blood.
Setting a positive tone
Your son may be alarmed when you tell him that you bleed every month, and that’s a normal reaction. Reassure him by explaining that menstruation is a natural and normal part of being a woman and he needn’t be afraid for you. Explain that without this function of biology, none of us would be here. Menstruation makes a woman’s body ready for childbirth, and that’s a beautiful thing.
In addition to allaying your son’s fears, explain that periods aren’t gross, unhygienic, or shameful. You can share how you felt when you first started your period and explain that, as their bodies begin to change, his sisters and schoolmates either are enduring or will endure fear, discomfort, and even embarrassment when their periods start too.
The more you educate your son about how it feels emotionally to experience menstruation, the better equipped he’ll be to act with compassion toward girls and women. Bringing half of this next generation into the fold on this topic is one of the ways we can end period stigma for good. Will you join us?