To my first menarche party I brought strawberries and red paper plates found in the forgotten Valentine’s corner at Walgreens. Everyone was instructed to bring some blood-themed food to commemorate eggs falling un-inseminated out of our vaginas, so on the table where red brownies, cherry pie, lollipops, beet salad, red wine, red chips, salsa, tapatío, red rice, red chicken, etc. You get the point.
The lead facilitator wore a red wig and a red shirt with MENSTRUATION IS BEAUTIFUL, Coca-Cola style across the boobs. It was supposed to be evocative. We sat in a circle passing around diva cups, small tampons, regular tampons, big tampons, home-made pads, Kotex pads, douches, and any other possible menstruation product now available at Walgreens. The girl who brought the home-made pads explained how wonderful they were, how the textile softly touched her pussy, how old-school, how anti-capitalist, how pro-femme, how her mama even sewed her one! How she washed them in hot water at night and boom you got yourself another pad without supporting the white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy. Everyone nodded. It seemed all the “natural” home-made products were winning in this game. Tampons were shamed, diva cups exalted. There is no way a piece of your mama’s cloth is gonna resist the avalanche that comes out of this pussy, I thought. Give me my extra-large tampons back and blessed art thou Kotex and the Colombian equivalent, Nosotras. Muchas gracias reinita pero no.
But did I say something mamita? Of course not. I nodded like the others. I didn’t want to seem pro-capitalist and anti-woman. Didn’t want all these radical feminists to think I wanted some plastic shit up my vagina that was making some white guy, who had no idea about pussy bleeding, enormously rich. I was twenty-one, trying to impress everyone with my radical politics, and loving everything about your vayayay, especially your period, was at the core of those politics.
The MENSTRUATION IS BEAUTIFUL girl gave the group a brief synopsis of the ways in which patriarchy+capitalism had distorted women’s understanding of their bodies and their periods. Can’t you see? They are profiting on your bleeding and on top of that you are hating yourself and hating the vagina. No more vagina hate! She went on and on about how we were being exploited plus made to hate our bodies at the same time, how your vagina was supposed to smell, how Vagisil odor products are another way of sanitizing and regulating, etc etc etc.. You all know what I’m talking about and if you don’t then, mami, you should be doing some soul-searching (the patriarchy is stealing your $$ girl!). It seemed like there was a right way of bleeding, a loving way, a way I had never practiced before. It seemed people’s vaginas behaved differently than mine. I, for one, have never experienced the saturated joy women in Kotex commercials do as they run to the beach and back into their boyfriend’s arms. My vagina doesn’t want to be tamed. When she bleeds, she bleeds. And when she bleeds, homegirl just wants to shut herself and scream for a day or two banging on the fucking uterine walls until I swallow enough Midol to kill a horse.
THEREFORE, Ms. MENSTRUATION IS BEAUTIFUL continued, menstruation is beautiful and we should love it and learn to love our bodies. Amén sister.
The menarche party + feminist group changed my life. I remember stealing diva cups from Whole Foods trying really hard to fold it correctly to fit my vagina like a glove, but I never got the hang of the diva cup. Once I spilled it all over myself but recalling the wise words of the MENSTRUATION IS BEAUTIFUL girl, I suppressed my anger and frustration with love, like hippies do. Oh this blood is the way my body cleanses! Oh I can also make period art! Oh period blood is great for facials! Oh the womb! Oh yonic symbolism! Oh mama earth! (I know mami and there you sat thinking I was just some jaded ass homo—homegirl has her hippiedom history too).
I tried so hard for menstruation to be beautiful. For a while after that group ended I continued prophesying my unconditional love for The Period and lecturing any female who did not share this love, at times almost shaming her. You do love it, you are just taught to hate it girl! Say you love it, say you love it, carajo. Believe. Please. Believe.
I felt like saying anything remotely bad about my period made me anti-feminist. Every month I repeated my mantra: Oh I’m gonna faint right now these fucking cramps are killing me! But I am happy! Happy! I love my cramps! I love almost fainting! I love not knowing if I have to shit when I sit down on the toilet because the pain is so terrible! But I am happy! Happy! Keep them coming! Oh how wonderful it is to love my period! Ay qué linda, qué buena, qué hermosa es la regla!
Sidenote:This post is not intended to be inspirational. If you’re looking for inspiration you may have to go to some hipster’s rosy Instagram. I ain’t giving you that.
The truth is: for most people menstruation fucking sucks. SUCKS. Sometimes it feels exactly like this:
You may think to yourself, mi reina it is 2015 why you writing a piece about bleeding? That’s so like 1955 second wave feminism. Because, cosita rica, I live in 2015 where I still have to deal with stupid jokes from men (I don’t trust an animal that bleeds for three days and doesn’t die—jajaja and I don’t trust an asshole who has had the same joke repertoire since 3rd grade. Get it together homie). Because we still have to murmur when asking for a tampon, because at work people suggest you keep your business to yourself, because we shush and hush about bleeding like we’re plotting some coup d’etat. Because we shame women constantly about their periods. Because we still have to do this, this and this. And because I want to hate my period and know my period and understand my fucking bleeding in all its complexity, its magic and its fuckedupness. And I don’t want any misogyny while I’m hating my period, okay? I wanna throw shade at myself in peace, no joda. I don’t want any yeah, it sure sucks to be a woman. Because one day that inferior bleeding woman may slap you madrefucker—or maybe we are plotting a coup d’etat. Who knows. You feel me? Do you agree?
Recently, I found this article on Buzzfeed on new period panties, which really are a joke because who bleeds that little? No one I know. But that’s besides the point. The best part of the article is the comments section where a much of people openly discuss how much they bleed (yes, in quantities. Like buckets and liters), how many tampons a day they use and how often (my favorite part), what methods they use (a huge diva cup contingent) and how horrible it is that we don’t get a real menstruation talk (amén)—among other things of course. People were really into it. I was really into it. The more each person shared the more other people felt comfortable in sharing. I couldn’t believe some people bled that much, or used that many tampons because here I sat thinking I was The Bleeding Queen. No way, mi reina. This corner of the internet, a freaking Buzzfeed article with real bleeding measurements, can you believe it?
I love period talk. I love bitching about it with my girlfriends. I used to love when my mom, my sister and I lived together and were synced and we just yelled, screamed and banged the walls asking for more tampons, asking for relief. We connected via our menstrual madness. The house transformed into a cave of hot water-bottles, Buscapina Fem and Hot Pockets. There’s something liberating in allowing yourself to be mad for a day or two, because I certainly don’t give a crap about a lot of things: I don’t care how I look, I don’t care if I’m pleasing you, I don’t care if men are comfortable, I certainly don’t care if an old person needs to sit on the bus, I don’t care if shit is due. The pain is fucking real and you’re in my way.
My period allows me— who am I kidding, my period obligates me to take a break from the compulsory productivity of capitalism. She’s going na-ha mami, Ima be banging all night long so you don’t do shit for a few hours. My vagina is inherently radical. I hate her and love her for that. I DO NOT have to pretend that menstruation is beautiful, the misogynists can go play beer-pong and fuck a donkey.
HERE’S THE REAL T of menstruation:
1. Te duelen las tetas como si fueras una niña pre-púber de once anõs// Your tits hurt as if you’re a pre-adolescent 11-year-old girl.
2. Te da una ansiedad horrible y te quieres comer el mundo entero// You get a horrible anxiety and you wanna eat the entire world.
3. Granos. Lavar calzón a media noche// Pimples. Waking up in the middle of the night to wash your underwear.
4. Sentir que la cuca se te va a caer// Feeling like your pussy is gonna fall off.
5. Coágulos. Cuchillazos en el útero// Blood clots. Feeling your uterus is being stabbed.
6. La pálida// Fainting
7. Diarreita menstrual// ***(alguien que ayude con la traducción).
8. Estar en un lugar público y saber que te está bajando y no hay baño y no hay nada que hacer y te vas a manchar// Being in a public place knowing it’s slowly coming down and there’s no restroom and there’s nothing to do.
9. Andar con el Kit de Regla en la maleta// Having a Period Kit in your bag at all times.
A few tips to help with your pussy bleeding:
1. Caspiruleta: my grandma’s recipe for cramps (I’m giving you part of my matriarchal soul, girl): hot milk, one egg, nutmeg, vanilla extract, cinnamon. Blend and drink.
2. The best way of not staining your underwear at night is to put a piece of toilet paper right along your buttcrack (did you know that? Try it). I always put toilet paper in my buttcrack now and it’s magic. It’s the difference between waking up in the middle of the night to wash my underwear half-asleep or just changing my pad. Voilá.
3. “Shout” is excellent to remove period stains. Keep it close, mama.
4. Masturbate For Cramps!
5. If you have Jury Duty you can call and say you have Food Poising. I tried it, it works.
6. If you have to work you can call and say you have Food Poising. I tried it, it works.
7. Hot liquids. Hot Water Bottle. Hot shower.
8. Fetal position on the floor.
I recorded the soundtrack for this post here: