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Our Bodies Will Not Be Machines: My Resistance Will Be Bloody

I am thirteen and bleeding all over the floor of Renee’s bathroom. It is the middle of the night. I thought I had to pee, but it’s just that my period has started. I can’t predict these unpredictable occurrences. My stomach hurts. I feel queasy. But my flow is so heavy it’s running down my leg and making a mess on the floor. I mop up what I can. I swallow my pride and wake my friend to wake her mother. We need assistance. Thankfully, in an act of female teenage solidarity, no one ever hears of this story. Until now.

I am fifteen, crawling on my hands and knees through the halls of my high school. I have cramps so severe I cannot walk. I am pale and my English teacher is concerned that I might be passing out at my desk. Thankfully, most everyone is in class, so few people have to see my humiliation. But humiliation is the least of my concerns right now. Basic bodily functioning is my only priority at this moment. No one ever mentions seeing me do this.

I am nineteen and even being on the pill can’t cure me of cramps so bad that once again I cannot walk. I am slumped on the tile floor of the university dining hall bathroom. I might be passing out. A male friend is brought in to find me and carry me back to my dorm room. He never mentions this again.

In each of these moments what isn’t mentioned is that these moments aren’t mentioned. Women are supposed to be quiet about something that our bodies do every single month for thirty or forty years. Don’t make a big deal of your experience. Don’t gross anyone out. This is shameful and people will mock you. Or they willfully ignore it.

Don’t smell of flesh and blood. Don’t leak or leave a bloody stain. Stuff your cunt up. Eat ungodly amounts of pain-killers. Alter your hormones with birth control pills, regardless of the sex you may or may not be having. Don’t let cramps get you down; girl, let’s see that smile! Don’t rest; taking a day off work just proves women are weak and unreliable.

Patriarchy and Capitalism are cozy bedfellows. They are happy to convince women that their bodies are disgusting, so they can sell us one more product to make us more “productive”, to make my vagina smell like candy or flowers, anything that will stop these cunts from bleeding.

blood

HARDER FASTER STRONGER MORE

Anti-Capitalist efforts have always maintained the dignity of the human person, that our dignity is inherent in our being, and is not more nor less dignified according to our material wealth. Our bodies are not machines, and therefore we cannot work 12, 16, 18 hours a day. Thanks to the Socialists of the past, we now have an 8 hour work day.

Except, we don’t really. Our paid work may only be 8 hours a day, but there is no room for rest in our society. In 1974 Silvia Federici tackled the issue of the unpaid work of housework, done almost exclusively by women. She says “the unwaged condition of housework has been the most powerful weapon in reinforcing the common assumption that housework is not work, thus preventing women from struggling against it”. By denying that housework is work, that raising children is work, Capitalism can ignore women’s needs for equality of time, reimbursement, and support. If it’s not work, we can continue to underpay house cleaners, nannies, preschool teachers, (some) cooks, and so on.

We are encouraged to work ever longer hours. We are isolated in our nuclear families, not sharing the collective labor our lives require. Our communities are designed for long commutes. You can sleep when you’re dead. Play hard. Never give up. Always improving, never just being. There is no room for pain, or rest, or love, but our bodies are not machines.

“Women’s work,” women’s bodies, women’s embodied experience, in fact, all human embodied experiences, are inconvenient for the Capitalist enterprise. Because our bodies are not machines.

EMBRACING MY BLOODY BODY

In my late 20s, when I was in graduate school, I decided to try an experiment, because I could, because I had the flexibility to do so. I decided to give myself a 48 hour menstrual holiday. I was on the pill and could ensure that my period always started on a Friday. I would not make any plans. No studying if I could help it. I hung out in my pajamas, eating cheese burgers, napping, and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And bleeding onto cloth. No pushing myself to look good (when I was bloated and heavily bleeding). No trying to socialize (when I was spacey and queasy). No needing to be ON. No bleached cotton and chemicals blocking me up.

It transformed the way I felt about my period and my body. I stopped hurting as much. I stopped experiencing PMS symptoms as strongly. I started looking forward to my body releasing and resting. I started wondering how many other people, particularly women, were pushing through pain and discomfort, ignoring their bodies, menstruating or not.

It changed the way I understood bodies, period. My compassion for others’ bodies increased.

BY BEING SOFT I WILL RESIST

These days I don’t have “days off.” I have small children, born of a body so used to pain that labor was not that much worse than my cramps. When I am menstruating, I continue to observe my monthly holidays. I try not to schedule anything. We eat leftovers. I put my feet up. I embrace the blood that keeps my womb clean and healthy. I settle into a space, mentally, physically, and spiritually, that feels liminal and helps me wander between the realms of life and death, of this world and Other worlds.

By resting and embracing my bleeding I resist the fetishization of my female body. I don’t have to smell like a prepubescent female. I can smell like the animal I am, iron and flesh, pheromones and earth. I listen to the completely natural urges of my body. Sometimes the slickness and warmth sing a song of sex, needing salt and a firm hand. Other times I want not a single touch, as if every inch of my flesh has gone on strike.

Instead of purchasing conventional period products, I have acquired, over time, cloth products, made by women who work out of their home. They are more environmentally sustainable, easily washable, more comfortable, and supporting, not some corporation, but a family and/or independent craftsperson*. I step outside the conventional model and resist – economically, environmentally, bodily. One act of resistance leads to another.

BLOODY WILL BE THE WAY

I resist Capitalism by not being “productive.” I resist by refusing to accept that my body or your body is a machine. Our bodies need to rest. Our bodies need time and space to heal, to purge, to grow, to be. Honoring my body shows my kids that the female body is not disgusting, but a cause for celebration.

Blood is life. The blood that pumps in my body and your body every moment of every day is life. Your heart’s blood and my cunt’s blood. A bleeding woman is a powerful woman. A bleeding woman can grow a life in the hidden spaces of her body. A woman who resists hiding her power, in her sex, in her blood, lays bare her connection to the sacrality of life, of our flesh.

Who better to understand this than Pagans? We understand the balance on the knife’s edge between life and death. We understand that life is sacred, that blood and sex are sacred. The Capitalist system denies this sacredness and tries to shame us, male and female alike, by insisting that we soldier on, cover up, and purchase more goods to Get Through.

The body is a site of resistance. Resistance to Capitalism and Patriarchy may begin with a glimmer of a theoretical idea, realization, or hope. But those ideas must flower in relation to our lived, embodied experience. Resistance begins in these personal moments, in the ways we love, the ways we bleed, the ways we live and die.

I saw the tentacles of control between the two-headed hydra of Patriarchy and Capitalism, passing our bodies around. I cut one tentacle, only to see that we are tangled in others. But the confidence to cut one tentacle leads to cutting more. Resist once and you can resist again.

Resist beautifully. Bleed.

*Ironically, this form of resistance has finally been noticed by Capitalist powers and the FDA has decided that cloth pads are “class 1 medical devices” and must be regulated and taxed accordingly


Niki Whiting

Niki Whiting is a mother and a student of theology. She was born and raised in Alaska and currently lives in Olympia.


Gods&Radicals is a non-profit Pagan Anti-Capitalist publisher. Find out more about our books here.

34 Comments »

  1. Do we tell them about sponges?

    Unlike you, I had no menstrual cramps. On the first or second day, I did want to sit on a heating pad, as I felt pressure in my vulva. I wasn’t certain what was going on until I was on pitocin, in an effort to induce labor (gestational diabetic). Didn’t work, but it taught me what had been going on: my cervix had been trying to open, to allow thick clumps to pass. They got thicker towards menopause, while the periods were fewer and farther between, and shorter. But when I was feeling that movement earlier in my life, I didn’t have big clumps to pass, so I still don’t understand.

    In college, even though I wasn’t on the pill, and tended to have a 35 day cycle when not in the dorms (and after college), my roommates and I would bleed on the same schedule. I didn’t tend to cycle at the same time as other women at work, but if I was running late, I’d find a woman who was flowing, and sit with her for about 10 minutes. I’d start the next day, due to sharing of pheremones.

    Since I had an emergency C-section (less than 8 oz of amnio, and my “waters hadn’t broken”), I will never know if the GI cramps I had were worse than labor–and my GI cramps had me doubled over. I did have menstrual cramping twice, years after my son was born. The first was short and mild, and it wasn’t until the second and stronger one a few months later that I understood what had happened. I did and do have a lot of sympathy for women with strong cramping and very heavy initial flow. I never was on the pill–after a couple of problems, I stuck to condoms for birth control. I have not had any kidney or gall stones, either, for which I am truly grateful.

    I never did buy into the “make your quim smell like flowers” routine. Wouldn’t buy deodorized menstrual products nor “feminine hygiene sprays”. Because I couldn’t afford the doctor visit and the Monistat prescription if I thought I had the yeasties, I used plain yogurt whisked into water and used a mini bag to “apply it to the affected site”, reclining in a tub. Smelled better, cheaper all around, and took active cultures directly to the spot.

    I was further fortunate to have no noticeable issues with menopause with one exception: no “power surges” for me, just a continually elevated interior temperature. In California, it’s as if I’m a visitor from “Winterpeg” or Nome, scoffing at the bundled up natives, and wearing a gauzy dress at 50˚F. Drives people nuts to see me. However, menopause is now meno-passed, and I’m still overheated 95% of the time!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Gods, I wrote a post so similar to this a few days ago, but lacked the courage to publish in the end. Doing the maths, I realised I have already spent over 400 days of my life, over a spread of some 18 years, dosed up on painkillers and trying to pretend that this does not happen to my body. And unless I take a stand, I could be facing another 18 years of the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a chap I can offer very little on this other than to regale you with a story about doing shots of Buffalo Grass Vodka at a friends house out of her (clean) mooncup. happy Days,.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brave and totally true!!
    The same goes for childbirth. It is not something you do in a few weeks in my opinion, yet we are continually presented with mothers who act as if it is nothing more than coming down with a cold. I was blessed to have a lot of time with my young children, working relatively little outside the home and being able to breastfeed for years, yet my husband had to work a lot more to make that a reality. Childbirth is a transformative experience if you do it right. Now my children are approaching puberty, I am glad we took the time to ‘invest’ in them (what a horrible word) for I am certain it has made raising them and guiding them a lot easier down the road. I still have all my life ahead of me to be productive but the most productive thing I have done so far, is taking a little more than the allotted time to recover and nurture them, and create a stable home for all of us. Sadly it is a luxury many women in the world cannot afford, or will not allow themselves to take.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most Western countries aside from the US have a decent maternity (and for some) paternity leave programs, especially in Scandinavia. In some countries, you are shamed into *using* that leave, if you show no inclination to do so.

      In the US, at least when my son was born, few fathers used paternity leave at all. Mine promised a week, but the reality was a few hours, a couple of days telecommute, and that’s all he wrote.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Reblogged this on Loki's Bruid and commented:
    “I resist Capitalism by not being “productive.” I resist by refusing to accept that my body or your body is a machine. Our bodies need to rest. Our bodies need time and space to heal, to purge, to grow, to be. Honoring my body shows my kids that the female body is not disgusting, but a cause for celebration.” -Niki Whiting

    The urge to be productive at all costs is killing us. I didn’t learn how to stop until I had a disability, and even now, I am prone to guilt that I’m not more “productive” in some sort of capitalistically approved manner.

    Liked by 3 people

    • To give you a glimmer of hope, Public and Applied Sociologists are educating people about how coercive elites mold society, and our collective mores and norms, in order to reduce the human body into *DOCIL*ity to then be *UTIL*ized for their own gains.

      They frame their examination of Power Elites using philosopher Michel Foucault’s assertions that (1) Those in power seek to maintain power, (2) Power is always coercive, (3) Coercion occurs as powerful people propagandize the masses, from cradle to grave, to politicize their own bodies, (4) That those who have internalized body politics will render themselves docile, (5) That those in power then further coerce these docile bodies into acting with utility ONLY in ways that serve the main function of power (to amass more power), (6) These “docile-utile” have a limited amount of energy, referred to as “biopower”, (7) Powers shape society into a system in which coercion becomes Insitutional, enforcing norms that exploit the docile-utile person’s biopower to its fullest extent everyd day, a process called “biopolitics”.

      Unregulated capitalism is a breeding ground and stronghold for biopolitics and (successful) exploitation that society has been brainwashed into perpetuating themselves, sealing their fall into disenfranchisement―without even questioning it―and eventually dragging even those who resist down into the deepest trenches of Underclass proletariat.

      It’s a failed system, and most of America has been also propagandized into believing regulatory policy is {“socialism,” as a rhetorical unit, hereby shorthand [S]}… that [S] (which is skewed far away from actual economically-healthy socialism) is all that socialism is… that [S] is akin to Tyranical Communism… that communism is Unamerican, thus [S] is Unamerican… thus, that anyone who advocates for any regulatory policy is Unamerican.

      We’re drinking poison, and we’ve been taught to dehumanize people who tell others the reality of what we’re drinking.

      9’o’clock a.m. to 5’o’clock p.m. is the time of peak energy and productive capacity of the average person. Nation-states with more socialist economics tend to give their employees a mandatory (politically regulated) break around 1pm to 2pm, when our bodies’ energy reaches its lowest daytime level. These countries may have powerful people, but the civilian body has kept them in check and are thus fighting against biopolitics.

      Late capitalist economies instead push energy drinks marketing directly and explicitly to serve the purpose of “Beating the 2’o’clock feeling”, making them more money through the puppets that make those drinks, while simultaneously extracting more biopower from the working proletariat.

      I absolutely REFUSE to buy or drink energy drinks for this reason. I am not a vehicle, so I’m not gonna pour Miracle Biopolitical Fuel down my throat.

      WHERE ARE THE REST OF THE PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH THIS??
      ////***this is a plea for solidarity***\\\\

      I don’t talk about this stuff but I know it’s going on.
      I don’t know yet how Mixed-Economy (democratic socialism, or regulated capitalism) paradigms would actually function, or if we need to push for a third-option beyond late capitalism AND state socialism.

      So, I’m currently a skeptical economic liberal (bc I don’t consider regulation to be radical or anarchic)

      But the more I feel/”grok”/intuit WHATEVER… Whenever I take-in the collective state of misery, ignorance, docility, lambs complicit to their own slaughter, delusional, anti-intellectual, nationalist, xenophobic, Amerco-centric, puppet-stringed, hateful, confused, disenfranchised, oppressed, assaulted Non-consciousness that pervades the nation, especially in regards to the institution of Employment….

      … the more I’d rather just tear it all down and start over. The “collective aura” is what I’d describe as “crunchy yet murky” and the collective consciousness is Void and Hollow.

      It’s gross, and I’m hypersensitive, so I engage in “gainful” employment in “slices” during which I save 90% of my money and engage is disciplines/practices that curb the consumerist habit (but unfortunately tend toward RHP which is extremely grating to my nervous system). I then invest it into funds with balanced-allocation (between stocks and bonds), absolutely refuse to touch it, watch it grow to scratch that itch to feel productive, engage in practices that amplify that satisfaction so it becomes enough for me to carry the “I’m unemployed. My income comes from my investments,” shallow words to oblige the sheep to maintain social capital (reputation, saving face).

      Once invested and showing stable growth, I resign from employment, resent the time I spent in it, rest on my laurels, and immerse myself in both LHP-oriented occultism and Highly-Liberal social justice. I set a strict time period, after which I return to employment, unless I’ve found a way during my “economic quarantine” to turn music into a career. And then I’m refreshed, self-empowered, powerful in the non-political sense, and basically just play along so I don’t starve.

      My mom knows how I feel about this, and sees my options as “Well, I have no idea what I’d do… Well, fuck,”… and she’s allowed me to cohabitate with her indefinitely.

      She’s fucking cool, and doesn’t buy into they “nuclear family” bullshit, and has always taught me to think like a maverick and an intellectual (especially with social intelligence). Her view is so devoid of being biopoliticked, that she literally sees it as More PRAGMATIC and More PRODUCTIVE to “be roommates and financial support for each other, rather than pay for two separate living arrangements {these are her words} where I have to be alone, and you have to try and find a roommate that you can trust as much as me… which is no one” {Literally Her Words}.

      Thus, I am blessed with “Eras” of alternating “playing along for survival” and “No Holds Barred esoteric and intellectual AND empathic exploration.

      But I don’t know where my allies are. And I don’t know what else, other than supramundane stuff, I can do to expedite this Self-Sovereignty Thing.

      Basically: where muh ppl at?

      Like

      • Addendum to hit the salient point of my assesment of Capitalism with the article itself:

        “Patriarchy and Capitalism are cozy bedfellows. They are happy to convince women that their bodies are disgusting, so they can sell us one more product to make us more ‘productive’.”

        THIS. This is why feminism is a thing. Women’s bodies are bio-politicked AROUND THE CLOCK… EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE WORKING OVARIES… not just nine-to-five, and yet we still paint you as “the weaker gender”. (I say “You” bc I’m a dude.)

        This is important to me―the struggle for women’s rights is much more important than the privilege I have of only being expected to be complicit in the usurpation of my energy from 8 rather than 16, 17, 18, 19 hours a day―because if you all are drained and fall into the disenfranchised Underclass docile proletariat (or even be browbeaten into having that mentality before you even fall that far)… that’s half the population.
        There goes half my potential siblings in the fight against the overarching power that seeks to determine ALL my siblings, all PEOPLE.

        Why the FUCK are so many men so hellbent on sealing *their own* demise?

        Where are people in Florida who give a fuck?
        Is there enough of us to start a local movement or at least a brainchild?

        Like

  6. I love hearing all of these stories. I am reminded of the stories I have heard of women’s “consciousness raising” circles in the 1970s – where women would sit around and talk about all the things we’re not supposed to talk about: namely, our experiences and our thoughts and feelings about those experiences.

    Thank you for sharing your stories! Not treating ourselves and others like machines means that we can (ideally) embrace the varied ways we are embodied. Disabled bodies, atypical bodies, and so on, are just as “valuable” when we divorce ourselves from thinking of humans as “productive.” I continue to struggle with this in my own life, as this thinking is so deeply embedded.

    I may tackle birth for my next piece.

    Liked by 3 people

    • In the groups I was in, forget the CRCs–not needed. I knew one woman, a tall well-rounded woman in her late 20’s, who filled a tampon of the strongest kind available, and a pad under it, every 15-30 minutes on the first day of flow. She didn’t care who was listening, either.

      Like

  7. I totally love this. Sometimes my cramps are worse than other times, and I also do my best to take menstrual holidays. I also shamelessly talk about these things with my girlfriends, I refuse to feel disgusting about something so natural. And if someone wants eternall productive elements, they can go to the hardwear store and buy themselves some tools. I aint one.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for writing this. You’ve encouraged me to write about a few more of those “things we don’t talk about.” I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian) and, while my symptoms are mild at this point in my life, there are times when that wasn’t the case. I’ve tried being on the pill, however, I can’t cope with the hormones as it triggers my depression. I had bad cramps, but nothing like you describe, not even when I had an IUD and I was popping Ibuprophen like it was candy.

    These days my cramps aren’t nearly as bad, and my flow is far lighter than it used to be, though I still get tired and sleep a lot around my period. I do feel the guiltiness of not being as productive, but that’s more because I’m invested in a lot of my creative work, rather than being productive for someone else. But you’re absolutely right, there is that huge pressure to be productive no matter what.

    I gave up disposable pads a few years ago, not too long after I finally ditched the IUD. I couldn’t afford the reusable pads, so I sort of made my own. Mostly I use a towel, since I work from home, and that works the best, especially for sleeping. I also sort of hacked together my own pads from my old cotton underwear. I lost a lot of weight and the bigger underwear was perfect for this because it’s cotton; absorbent, washable, all that good stuff.

    In fact, I also use washable cloths instead of toilet paper about 75% of the time. I currently live in a garage without a bathroom or running water, so my “bathroom” is a bucket and a window overlooking my compost spot. Some people get completely grossed out when I talk about this, or about using washable cloths for my period. But, seriously…our bodies? Not that gross. Urine? We all make it. We won’t die if we talk about it, or if it touches us. Washes off just fine. Bleeding? Just blood. Also washes off.

    Hmmm. Might have to write up something longer on this. You’ve sparked my muse. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m noticing more slender women with PCOS–used to be that if a younger woman was well-rounded and had more chin hair than most crones, PCOS was a likely culprit, in my experience.

      PCOS is one of those syndromes that can often be amelioriated by the use of hormones, such as found in birth control, which the “religious” misogynists would like you to believe is only for “sluts”, and never medically necessary.

      You likely know that D&C can be used to help removed excess endometrial tissues, but…maybe you only get that because you’re “genetically slutty”. Can’t figure out how what passes for brains there allegedly work.

      Like

  9. This is not only interesting (and important!) to read, for which I thank you, but it has provoked an uncomfortable thought, but a good and important one.

    Those of us with atypical genders sometimes lament, for example, that there is no (in my case, for instance) metagender clothing section at any major department store, or really any store for that matter. But, should there be? While supply and demand would suggest it wouldn’t be economically viable (which is why there still isn’t such a thing), another part of me shudders at the thought that when an identity is recognized enough to be a “potential market,” that’s quite worrisome.

    My gender is a way of being in the world, not a product nor a market. And, the same ought to be true for all of us, binary cisgendered folks as much as anyone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If I’m annoyed by the binary-only gender questions on even medical questionnaires, I can only dread what your reaction is. Mine is because of my awareness of reality, but for you, it’s more likely personal reality.

      When my son was receiving emotional health services in school, I had to fill out a feedback booklet twice a year, and I swear there were questions that had me scribbling on the margins because to me, orientation and not behaving according to mainstream ideas about your outer gender identity, were not disorders. By the time he stopped using those services, at least one of the questions had disappeared.

      Some question sets at least offer a “prefer not to say” option for gender and orientation items.

      Like

  10. Thank you for this. Beautifully written.

    I began using cloth in ’92 from an environmental stand and eventually changed over to the Keeper Cup about 5 years ago. Now my reasons are more from a place of resistance – so I appreciate your points made.

    I started out my daughter’s first period with a celebration among women and a bunch of cloth pads. Over and over again, I have reiterated the necessity of unearthing what monthlies bring to us (to me and my daughter and to other women). I am more creative, more introspective, more connected. She, too, has found jewels during that time.

    I am blessed to have a husband (Jim Lindenschmidt, a contributor to this site) who has never batted an eye at my menstrual choices. (In fact, check this out: https://thetransparenttrailer.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/a-modern-holy-grail-in-tin-foil-and-rubber/) Lee, I could totally see him taking vodka shots out of my (clean) Keeper Cup. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on Lean in to Joy (transition priestess, spiritual midwife) and commented:
    REBLOG: “In each of these moments what isn’t mentioned is that these moments aren’t mentioned. Women are supposed to be quiet about something that our bodies do every single month for thirty or forty years. Don’t make a big deal of your experience. Don’t gross anyone out. This is shameful and people will mock you. Or they willfully ignore it.

    Don’t smell of flesh and blood. Don’t leak or leave a bloody stain. Stuff your cunt up. Eat ungodly amounts of pain-killers. Alter your hormones with birth control pills, regardless of the sex you may or may not be having. Don’t let cramps get you down; girl, let’s see that smile! Don’t rest; taking a day off work just proves women are weak and unreliable.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the late 60’s, my mom started menopause, and checked out HRT. It was essentially The Pill, at much higher doses than are found today. Little by little, her vision began collapsing. One day she decided that the only factor was likely the hormones. A decade or so later, there was a writeup of a study showing that women who smoked (she did) had a reversible loss of sight from taking high hormone dosage.

      I was not interested in the pill for birth control between that, trying to remember to do something regularly for an irregularly-occurring reason, and not wanting that level of hormones in my body. Since my cycle was usually 31-35 days long, having more frequent periods wasn’t a positive factor. Cost of pills and increased cost of menstrual goods also cut the likelihood as well.

      Like

  12. Thank you Niki. I am fortunate to live with a partner that embraces and celebrates her body – all of it. I am fortunate enough to have daughters that have never felt the need to hide their discomfort, their need for comfort or their need to tell me to stay the hell away from them.

    Thank you for this excellent piece.

    Gwion

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What an excellent and powerful piece! Thank you so much for it. It is going to provoke me to think much more fully about embodiment in capitalism versus paganism.

    Like

  14. My period was only ever a bringer of pain and body dysphoria, and when I learned I could cauterize my womb, I quickly found a gyn who would do it. In the years since, my hormones still cycle, but I don’t get anywhere near the miserable symptoms I had before. Bloating, fuzzy-headedness, etc have all dropped to barely perceivable levels as the monthly reminder that my body and gender don’t line up has gone away.

    I suspect, especially after reading pieces like this one, that the stress associated with periods being regarded as shameful (or, as in my case, being a cause of dysphoria) and with a refusal to rest when needed is where a whole host of awful symptoms originate. It’s a catch-22, having to unlearn negative tropes around a monthly misery in order to make it less miserable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree completely with your last paragraph. That was one of the points I was hoping to make with this piece! Our pains – spiritual, emotional, physical – are often exacerbated (and sometimes caused) by having to stuff it down and Press On.

      Like

  15. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! This is some beautiful truth. Thank you.

    Also, your story sounds identical to mine–I remember sitting in English class, shaking with pain and not sure I could make it to the nurse’s office to wait for my mom to bring me painkillers (since we were denied access to them at school). My cramps were absolutely debilitating until I gave birth, and like you, I didn’t find contractions to be much worse. Even now that they’re not as severe, I desperately wish I could take a day or two off from work to rest. But we only get one sick day a month.

    Like

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