November 19th of every year is celebrated as International Men’s Day. While this gives us an opportunity to celebrate the men in our lives, it’s also a great time to talk about how men can contribute to changing the conversation around periods. We at SochGreen are happy to have Pranav Jain as our co-founder. He quit his full-time job in trading to co-found SochGreen along with his partner Priyanka Nagpal Jain. Be it our pop-up shops or our sessions on eco-friendly periods, or our day-to-day operations at the SochGreen office in New Delhi, Pranav is always there!
International Men’s Day is also another opportunity for us to talk about how we can involve men in our conversations around periods. The time of shame and secrecy around periods is slowly coming to an end. Men are getting more acquainted with the reproductive processes of the female half of the population. The constant attention being given to periods in the media always help in talking about the elephant in the room.
At our recent pop-up shop in Bhoomi Habba in Bangalore, many schoolboys who were brought there as part of a school excursion stood by at the stall and read our posters on the harms caused by disposable period products. When asked if they were prepping for an assignment, they said - no, we would just like to know more about this! At another event in Infosys Campus in Bangalore, a man came up to the stall and picked up some brochures about reusable period products to give to his wife; two other men also brought some of our SochPads, even guestimating the size by themselves. Such incidents offer us a view of the positive things to come!
What can we do this men’s day to make men #included in the conversations around periods?
- Change begins at home
This aspect is true of most things that we want to change in the world. Be it big or small, every little thing that we want to change first needs to be implemented at home. Families are often a space where things about female bodies are hidden in secrecy. Opening up these spaces to welcome talks about the female body and reproductive system would be extremely beneficial. Young children - both boys and girls - need to be taught about the correct names for all their body parts, reproductive parts included. This normalizes any talk about bodies in general that the children may want to talk about or have questions about. At an age-appropriate time, both boys and girls must be taught about the reproductive system and then about periods. Many men have no idea what is the process that goes on when a woman is on her period. Many men are also unaware of the female reproductive anatomy - both internal and external. This is the first step to teaching boys about periods. If as a parent you are unsure about how to have this conversation, you can make use of visual materials like books and videos to make the conversation less awkward.
- Being more vocal and involved
A big part of undoing the stigma around menstruation is being more vocal about the problems women face while they are on their period. Men must support the women in their lives - be it their mothers, sisters, or partners - when they need them. It might be in the form of buying period supplies when needed or making a cup of hot tea when she is suffering from period cramps.
- Periods at the workplace
Challenging period stigma at the workplace may be harder than what one thinks. While family still comes under the precincts of ‘home’, the workplace is a place of strict rules and policies that are followed. In such times, what may be helpful is to have open conversations - perhaps even sessions on topics like reusable period products. Treating women as equals despite the differences between men and women is the way to go forward for any workplace.
Tell us in the comments about what more can be done to bring back men in menstruation.