PERIOD is hosting a Period Week: a week to celebrate and openly discuss menstruation. This series will feature 5 articles all relating to different aspects of periods. This article looks good-naturedly on menstruation and its related humor.
by Marjorie Sheiman
Humor is a part of human culture. If something’s funny, we want to share and that’s an awesome part of human interaction. However, when humor crosses over into insults or demeaning comments, that’s where we have to draw the line. A huge part of that is period “humor.”
When people ask women who are perhaps irritable, tired, or maybe only assertive if they’re on their period, that is sexist anti-menstruation speech and it needs to stop. While it’s true PMS might make some people more cranky or uncomfortable than others, that’s okay because menstruation affects everyone differently. Imagine if you were uncontrollably bleeding for a week: you might feel different too!
Bad period humor is when it discredits menstruators and menstruation. For example, people believed that Hillary Clinton couldn’t be president because when she would be on her period, she would get so “crazy” that she would set off missiles and kill us all. That “humor” tells menstruators that people don’t believe they can be rational or in charge because they might literally go “crazy” from having their period. These sexist jokes continue to reinforce harmful stereotypes about women that can keep them from achieving positions of power.
Here are some more examples anti-period humor:
These “jokes” continue to alienate menstruators and push the menstrual taboo agenda. It’s up to us to stop this line of humor. If you hear someone telling a joke like that, tell them it’s offensive and explain to them why. If someone shares an anti-period meme, tell them it’s not okay. If they’re truly decent people who care about you, they wouldn’t want to make you upset and care about your feelings. And even if they’re a total stranger, if you call them on it, they’ll learn it’s not okay to say these things, and you’ll help make the world more period friendly!
With all that in mind, while this week has been about celebrating menstruation, we also also do realize that periods can be uncomfortable and downright annoying, so now it’s time to kickback and laugh! And remember, it’s okay to laugh about periods as long as we treat them from a place of respect and don’t belittle menstruators. Have a good laugh!