The Twitter hashtag #LiveTweetYourPeriod is honest and hilarious. Photo: Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr via Creative Commons
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Why I’ll be livetweeting my next period

The only way we can break the stigma around periods is if we all talk about it.

When was the last time you watched a movie and heard a woman complain about her period staining her sheets? Or a bathroom scene where she folds a million pieces of tissue paper because her period has come unexpectedly? Or perhaps when a woman expresses frustration that her period has ruined her new underwear? Never, is probably your answer to most of these questions. Because of course, women are made to feel ashamed about anything to do with their bodies, even something as normal and natural as periods. Talking about periods in public remains a no-no and as much as I would like this to change, I’m guilty too. I talk about periods in whispers, discreetly pass a pad to a friend in need and mouthing “I’m on my period” when I feel that sudden rush of blood and think “shit, it’s come early. I hope it doesn’t ruin my clothes”.

Judy Blume’s timeless classic Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret was what saved me during my early teenage years and puberty. My mum never spoke to me about periods (or sex – but that’s a completely different conversation). When I was eleven, she handed me a Bible that was supposed to tell me everything I needed to know. I learnt fuck all about periods from the Bible but at least I had Blume to guide me and answer some of my questions.

We don’t talk about periods. Or perhaps we do, but it’s always in a hushed whisper, as if talking about your period is a crime. At school, we were taught very little about menstruation. We had a very strict nurse who came into my primary school in Nigeria and she told us to carry around a “period purse” with sanitary towels in preparation for the day that we would become women. I took my purse with me everywhere I went for almost three years, but of course, as things work out, I didn’t have it on the day I started my period. And once I’d got my period, I felt an overwhelming sense of shame. I went to the pharmacy on my own and I was confused – why were there so many options? I felt like everybody was judging me, like people knew and were thinking “She’s just got her period”. In the end, I bought pads similar to the ones I’d seen in my parents’ bedroom. It was a big mistake; I might as well have folded a t-shirt and put it in my pants. Until I found the courage to ask my mum, I thought if I stayed in the shower for long enough, my period would go away (and even though I’d prayed for my period to come for years, all I wanted now was for it to go away).

The Twitter hashtag #LiveTweetYourPeriod is honest and hilarious. Again, social media has given women the medium to talk about subjects that we consider to be “taboo” in our society and I love it. Rest assured, I’ll be live tweeting my next period, because the only way we can break the stigma around periods is if we all talk about it. For some girls in other parts of the world, the stigma around periods can mean they can’t go to school and their lives are put in danger.

As Gloria Steinem said, “if men could menstruate…clearly menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event. Men would brag about how long and how much”. So ladies, let’s talk about our periods. Let’s boast about them. Let’s start a revolution so it becomes the norm to tell your boss that you might be a few minutes late for the next meeting because you need to do a quick tampon change. Let’s introduce a proper system of menstruation education in schools for boys and girls. It’s pathetic that in 2015 we are still having this conversation around periods. Let’s do away with the secrecy and have some openness, please.

PS To all the producers of adverts pad and tampons etc: my period is not blue – it’s red.

June Eric-Udorie is a 17-year-old writer whose writing has appeared in Cosmopolitan and the New Statesman among others.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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