A 15-year-old Book and Menstrual Hygiene Day 2018

Yesterday was Menstrual Hygiene Day.

In among all the royal wedding hoopla, few remember that before she married into royalty, Meghan Markle wrote this piece for Time magazine on the need to combat the stigma of periods. Excerpt:

Imagine a world where the female leaders we revere never achieved their full potential because they dropped out of school at the age of thirteen. In the Western world this is challenging to fathom, but for millions of young women globally, this remains their harsh reality for a staggering reason. From sub-Saharan Africa to India, Iran, and several other countries, the stigma surrounding menstruation and lack of access to proper sanitation directly inhibit young women from pursuing an education.

Puberty is universal, and embarrassment is no reason for a girl to quit on herself.

periodpiecesOn my shelf is a middle grade short story collection titled Period Pieces: Stories for Girls. The stories were selected by Erzsi Deak and Kristin Embry Litchman. There are thirteen in all, among them “White Pants” by Linda Sue Park, “The Gentleman Cowboy” by Cynthia Leitich Smith, “A Family Sandwich” by Jane Kurtz, and my  own story, “The Gift.” I haven’t looked at this book in many years. Here’s an excerpt from Kris Litchman’s piece:

“All girls bleed. You can’t stop it.” Madeline certainly sounds positive.

“Don’t the boys have to bleed?”

“No.”

“That’s not fair!”

“That’s the way it is.”

Fifteen years later, this rather surreal short Hindi film from India poses that very  question: What if boys had periods? How would society handle them then?

If it’s uncomfortable viewing, that’s intentional. At long last, the world is being forced to deal with the inequities surrounding what should be a normal developmental life event.

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