Ignorance is not so much of a Bliss

A baby- girl is the most sweet and angelic stance that can happen to any parent. While all her whims are attended to with great pride and she steps into teens; her hesitation and feeling awkward in male company is often wrongly misunderstood as being shy. Dad used to shower me as any father would his daughter. One day it so happened that I felt so embarrassed to undress, I may have been only 7 or 8 years old. My body- frame had started changing and “I growing up early” signs were pretty visible. While everyone around thought that I was a usually chubby child, I could notice that my form was not as shapeless as it was a few weeks back..!!

I had not talked to mom for the next few days since she had “forced” me to undress that had made me so uncomfortable and get into shower with dad. It had been so indescribable but very certain. I had even tried talking it out to mom but she had not understood that I was changing. Nevertheless, it never happened again. A few days later mom sat me and talked about the few physical changes that happen once we girls reach puberty. I am glad that she did- atleast she was preparing me in advance. Another 2 years, and she talked about the great change that scar the growing up process of many a girls even now. What happens and what all to do at the first sign when playing with friends or in school; she described all while bathing me up. Great bathing ritual..!!

While mom was the one who had initiated me to the overall hygiene and take- care process; she had thrown fits when I had just made a mention of waxing..!! Crazy (my) mom..

I was in 5th and my teacher was a sir- mom told me how to handle that part as well. I was so nicely equipped and equally groomed to face the “bloody” incident.

I have some nice memories linked with something that scares most of the girls even today. I had not cried the first time, neither did it scare me anytime later. I would even travel for extra curricular activities and come home late at 10pm. But how many of us can say this about something that affects the being of a woman for 5 days every month or 60 days a year- which means 2 months approximately (!!) in a year? Not many. Women still die of shame to educate their daughters of something as important and as vital as this. They take it for granted that the kids would pick it up on their own, since times have changed. Where would they pick it up from- kids of the same age who are also backed up with like minded parents or elders who harbor the changed generation and hence improved information thoughts? I am talking about something here that I noticed 20 years back. Unfortunately the same is still very much prevalent in today’s times also.

My friends would discuss how they had cried their souls out thinking they were cursed or had been infected with something as dangerous as an epidemic. They had been so scared at that time that they could not talk about those horrendous abdominal cramps and did not know that it wasn’t pain really but that. Do you know that how some houses still restrict the girls’ movement around in the house and would not allow her to enter kitchen or sit on sofa or bed till they put a sheet on..!! Obnoxious is the thought; and such an action- too. A girl if can go to the school, traveling in public or school transport, play around like she would any other day; why is made to behave like an untouchable? Is it because she may end up staining it, or is it because she becomes impure for those many days. Trust you me the latter has been the reply- always. I am sure you would agree that if she can carry herself well in her co- education school, she can carry herself just about anywhere. And then, what is a family or home for- to denounce a girl at the mark of her onset towards becoming a woman?

Why do women tend to forget their own ignorant, oblivion and hence, trapped state of being while not passing the information to their young daughters? What do they wait for? Why do they wait at all? If at all the times have changed, then this is what that has been affected- earlier the age to hit puberty used to be 16- 17 years, now due to several mutation and pollution factors, the age has come down to 11- 12 years; exactly when they are still kids and have absolutely no sense about the change and its implications. It is also hereditary and one very basic ruling is, if her frame is changing, the chances are she would hit it early. Rising levels of obesity, environmental pollutants, television watching and even broken homes are being blamed for girls maturing up earlier than how it used to be. While these are not so healthy signs, the obvious fact is staring at our faces and we have decided to stay ignorant.

Women who are well educated, working with branded MNCs have also displayed the same trend. Yes, it is sad and so very unbecoming of being a woman. I wish some time could be taken out from kitty parties and utilized towards something that is just so “is unavoidable”. Even in schools, biology chapters with the mention of puberty appear in 8th standard; and is hurriedly read out once as a practice, for generations now. Just why are we so ashamed of discussing something that later on imparts a woman with the ability to conceive and bring a life forward in this world? Why the very essence of being a woman so stigmatized? We run for the remote and press channel change key the moment a sanitary towel advertisement appears. Parents won’t talk, the kids won’t be let to watch ads; just where would they pick up the latest availables from? I wonder if tampons are at all advertised as it used to some 30- 40 years back- here in India. I had picked up an old magazine and asked for it from the chemist. Back then, I had to wander from one to yet another till I could buy the first pack from Bengali Market- Central Delhi! It had then disappeared from the chemist shelves for the next 5- 6 years. How badly I had struggled with the cardboard covering for some painful period of months before understanding how to actually use one. I had blatantly replied (upon mom’s confrontation about the “device”) that if all something has to enter me 1st, Ill let a tampon to instead of a man; mom marked that I had grown up. Hit Google and get the definition of tampon on your own please- that way you would know that it is not a name of a tool. Wikipedia has a beautiful and very knowledgeable description of the same.

My Dear girl child, there’s nothing wrong with you. No curse has fallen upon you and neither are you sick- it’s the society and their thoughts that is. Your mother is a woman and so she also has undergone the same change and therefore is aware of your situation and so is your father. If he is married to a woman, he ought to know about this change as well. While you need to rejoice about the painful appearance of womanhood in your life for the next 35- 40 years, it’s sad that this is how it has been for ages and would take another era for any change to occur. It is now upto you how you deal with your children or classmates or even with siblings. Carry the protection yourself in your school bag because school authorities would only give up their hands when they run out of stock which they do – ALWAYS. And if the classmates tease you, tell them that they would soon get to carry one themselves. About your male class fellows, tell them it’s a girlie thing and it would be best to keep out from taking it out from your bag and hang it in display like some exhibition- item. If he continues, tell him that his mom has a better stock in her almira. Go girl, take it in your stride (not the development but the lack of discussion around the same) and forward it to everyone that you can.

On a lighter (or sad) note: I have come across men in their late twenties and early thirties who know not a whisper about it. They even think that the kids travel from heaven; are they psyches?

About Olivia

Corporate worker, textile designer, writer.
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5 Responses to Ignorance is not so much of a Bliss

  1. Pingback: I, Me, Myself | Olivia's Life Instances..

  2. Pingback: Handling the “Bloody Affair” | Olivia writes here..

  3. Pingback: Celebrating Womanhood « Olivia writes here..

  4. It’s scary about how ignorant men are about menstruation and that’s one of the reasons why I began to blog about it. In a way, my blog gives men some practical understanding of menstruation and products as well as allowing women to delve into understanding how/why men think a certain way about periods. Certainly, what scares me the most is that even women who have gone through years of menstruation don’t really know “the full story”… I’ve had women who used the wrong terminology before when describing things associated with periods – let alone men!

    It is not unusual per se for guys to feel menstruation as a very “foreign” thing for them, after all, we do not experience it. However, I certainly feel strongly that even starting from BOYS … even before they become “men” that they should have a functional knowledge of menstruation and awareness of menstrual products. Suffice to say, they do not necessarily need to know the intricacies, but I have felt that ignorance is no excuse for what guys but women through when it comes to their periods. Menstruation is seen as a very “bad” thing because the media and misinformation which floats around (especially from guy-to-guy) propagates negativity extremely fast. Menstruation is such a beautiful process!

    Although I would not disagree with the fact menstruation may not be the most comfortable thing, I think it’s terrible when women perceive periods as some kind of curse or hate it. I understand the associations with PMS, discomfort, cravings, etc. aren’t they greatest things in the world, but by hating her period, it only goes to spread the negativity of menstruation, especially to those easily influenced such as daughters or fellow-females. Also, women play a large influence towards guys… the more guys see that even women themselves believe menstruation is terrible, the more reason we (men) will perceive the same negativity and “pass it on” to others.

    • Olivia says:

      Dear …,

      I could not more than agree to what you have written it here.. wonderfully described how it has been stigmatized everywhere around. It is most uncomfortable period. Though I feel its the pregnancy that is most uncomfortable since one has to be more careful for herself and the baby for day and night months together; our society’s response and appreciation for the that period has made it the wonderful time in any woman’s life. I so wish that the same is the treatment towards girl’s period as well.


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