What if men had menstrual cycle

Many are of the opinion that these strange university protests that entail the putting up of sanitary products in public spaces, starting in Jamia and spreading to Jadavpur, are not in good taste. But why should they be?

If menfolk happened to have menstrual cycles instead of women, this would hardly have occasioned social shame for them. Instead, they would have celebrated their stains, declared the blood sacred and exhibited with considerable pride the sanitary pads that bore the signs of their power. Women’s menstrual cycles, on the other hand, have been deemed so hateful and their blood so impure for so long, that it is finally time for women to rediscover the sacrality of their own blood.

Social stigma

When men open their shirts in public, scribble slogans all over their bodies and walk with pride, they are heralded as harbingers of true revolution — people have felt awed and inspired by such sights, poets have written paeans in their praise, artists have immortalised such scenes on canvas and filmmakers have made memorable cinema of such landmark protests. When FEMEN activists do the very same thing, and display their nudity adorned with political slogans, policemen arrive in leaps and bounds and forthwith drag them all to the prison.

Male bodies inscribed with political will are things of beauty, and female bodies of the same order are objects of social stigma, shame and infringement. It’s because a women’s nudity disarms the conservatives, it makes them uncomfortable. Rupi Kaur’s photograph documenting menstrual blood opened a can of worms. Instagram removed the photograph and instantly, social media were alight with debates. I think the photograph was a stroke of genius. So was Deepika Padukone’s video, My Choice. Women are undergoing a sudden awakening everywhere. This awakening is becoming more and more necessary for the survival of mankind as a whole.

The thought of one half of the species brutally repressing the other half by virtue of sexual discrimination, through various tools of torture ranging from sheer brute force to social conditioning and superstition, for thousands of years, is perhaps more frightening as any other human rights violation. This awakening has been long due. The society mustn’t run by muscles, it must be run by liberated minds. It is ludicrous to think that the primary law lurking underneath sexual and gender discrimination is nothing but the discrepancy of physical force between the male and female of this species.

When I described in detail, in the first part of my autobiography, My Girlhood, the events leading to my first menstrual period, or later, how I was sexually abused, many disapproved of this with the sneering civility characteristically belonging to the bourgeoisie. I pity them, and I have never brought myself to pander to their socially curated tastefulness.

Banned book

My Girlhood was banned by the Haseena government in 1999. It’s still banned in Bangladesh. The middle classes are of the opinion that no decent woman belonging from a good family could have described, in gory details and with utter “shamelessness”, the indignity of the sexual abuse she had suffered. Some famous male authors have personally told me, “You know, the book was very well written, but you shouldn’t have described the sexual encounters. That was vulgar”.

Oh yes. When women write about the sexual crimes perpetrated against them, they become offensive; when they tell stories belonging to their own bodies, they are deemed notorious. But when men offer up depictions of female nudity and sexual intercourse, they become the grand documenters of high art.

Moral guardians

It seems that women’s bodies are the copyrighted properties of male authors and artists, for if women were to explore such areas, they would surely be no more than sluts. When women refuse to abide by these rules instituted by men, when they sidestep the rules laid down about what to say and when, and how far to go with it, this society’s men feel some amount of righteous indignation.

If this society hasn’t defamed you as a slut and whore, if you haven’t yet been able to confound at least a few of the society’s self-appointed moral guardians, then there isn’t much hope for you as a feminist. The named, on the other hand, are those who shall change and alter the fabric of this rotting state, and bring on a new evolution that shall signal a new kind of egalitarian atmosphere.

I therefore salute the students who have stepped forward to protest on behalf of all women who are stigmatised during their menstrual cycles. It is the duty of educational institutions to spearhead the revolution against superstitions, stigmas, social and sexual discrimination and spread social awareness and illumination amongst the common people. It is their moral obligation to take up the fight for womens’ rights, and they have done a good job of it.


  1. Huma says

    I agree with many of the points you have made. But I believe that BOTH men and women should be modest with their bodies. The solution isn’t who out does whom, but what should not be done by BOTH for modesty. Also secual abuse is a crime. Hiding it gives the perpetrator the opportunity to continue. There should be no shame in reporting it.

  2. Bijon Ghosh says

    How you are sure that men will celebrate if they have menstruation. Do men celebrate when their semen sometimes overflow at night ? This is also natural but men prefer to hide it. Isnt it? I agree with Huma that men and women both should have modest with their body. Your attack to male dominated society is very erratic .As you said ” But when men offer up depictions of female nudity and sexual intercourse, they become the grand documenters of high art.” No, it is not true.

  3. leni says

    Do men celebrate when their semen sometimes overflow at night ?

    Well, I think more than a few of them do. But even if they don’t, this is not a very fair comparison.

    This happens to men (as you say) at night. Presumably in their own beds. Not on the train, or at work, or while otherwise caught unprepared in public during the day. And it’s unlikely to ruin their favorite clothes and be obvious to everyone walking behind them until they can get somewhere and clean up.

    Toilets aren’t modest or nice to think about either. We don’t have to “celebrate” publicly available restrooms and toilet paper in order to know that the need exists and that there is no point is shaming anyone about it. It’s mutually embarrassing and uncomfortable for everyone, yes, but we live with it. Because ultimately it’s not that big of a deal. Being sanitary is not being immodest. And avoiding a potentially very embarrassing situation is arguably, more modest.

    Like toilet paper, I do not celebrate buying sanitary napkins in public. I simply purchase them and go on my way and make a point to not start any conversations just then. It is really not that difficult, nor is it immodest.


    I am curious, though. Where are these public spaces that women’s sanitary products will cause so much offense? Restaurant tables?

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