Michaels: Let’s talk about our periods this International Women’s Day

58 per cent of women have felt a sense of embarrassment simply because they were on their period.

Late bloomer should have been my middle name.

Breeding, getting my period, first bra —all of it, slightly later than the norm.

This age bonus is probably why when my period arrived, I gave my dad an excited call and said it was time to go to the pharmacy because his firstborn was a finally fully formed woman. (Fun fact: It was right after Ben Johnson got Canada a gold medal. Let’s not discuss the national shame that followed.) From the moment he awkwardly hung up, after saying “OK. Will do. Gotta go,” I realized that one woman’s joy is another man’s discomfort.

That said, there’s no shame in my game. Discussing things like periods, tampons and pads and watching people react uncomfortably is kind of enjoyable.

Also, these awkward moments are my gift to humankind; particularly, womankind.

There is no reason on Earth for a woman’s biological functions to cause anyone emotional pain. Mostly because it causes so many of us actual pain. There’s no stealing that thunder. The government should be sending out medals of bravery, heat packs and chocolate supplies from the day that puberty hits.

That said, not all people are on the same page, and therein lies one of those strange gender inequities that continue to plague us.


This thing about free pads and tampons in schools reminded me of it, quite honestly. Or, mostly the conversation that followed.

Some talked about how embarassing it is for young women to ask for free sani-pads or tampons. Others had a different take. One man made the mistake on our Facebook page of complaining about the cost to taxpayers for the odd girl asking for a pad or tampon. He defended his view on how he saw the differences between pads and toilet paper while other readers went for his blood. He was wrong if you ask me.

So too were the people who resorted to name calling. But I digress.

Why is dealing with it talked about in terms any different than going pee? There’s a bigger issue at play — why do women feel shame about periods? How can they feel shame about one of our fundamental biological differences?

A poll conducted last year by underwear brand THINX of 1,500 women and 500 men from across the U.S. has found that 58 per cent of women have felt a sense of embarrassment simply because they were on their period.

Forty-two per cent of women have experienced period-shaming, with one in five being made to have these feelings because of comments made by a male friend.

Additionally, 12 per cent of women have been shamed by a family member and one in 10 by a classmate.

Things are even worse at work, where more than half of men studied (51 per cent) believe it is inappropriate for women to openly mention their menstrual cycles in the workplace.

With all those stats in mind, the question shouldn’t be: “What are schools doing to address the cost of free pads and tampons?”

It should be more like, “What is wrong with people and what can we do to change this weird thinking?”

I’ve got a solution and I invite all women to join me.

Let’s all go to work and turn to the person next to us and say, “Man, this period is a bloody nightmare” and enjoy the awkwardness that follows, knowing we’re making the world a better place for future women.

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