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12 August 2015

Donald Trump’s comments on periods prove why we desperately need to talk about them

Donald Trump's comment that Fox's Megyn Kelly was "bleeding out of her wherever" proves why we need to tallk about periods and do away with the stigma and silence. 

By June Eric-Udorie

It’s a Wednesday afternoon and in Donald Trump’s words, I’m bleeding out of my “wherever”. Megyn Kelly of Fox News questioned the Republican presidential candidate on his verbal attacks on women. He has called women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals”. Trump’s response was that he’d only called Rosie O’Donnell those names, and he went on to complain in a separate CNN interview that Kelly “had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever”. Trump, still not ashamed of himself for stooping to such a low level, went on Twitter to clarify that he meant blood was coming out of her nose. But that’s not what you actually meant, is it now, Mr Trump? We all know what you really meant, that Kelly was on her period. Unfortunately, even at 69, you were too scared to say the word “vagina” or “period”. So you resulted to “wherever”. I mean, the only person I feel sorry for is you, Donald.

It may come as a surprise to Trump but every month, women have periods, which means that they “bleed out of their wherever”. We also pay tax on our sanitary products because, you know, periods are such a luxury. I mean, who doesn’t love the bleeding and the cramps, the headaches and dizziness, the hormonal shifts and the sore breasts, or in my case, throwing up. Very luxurious indeed. But thanks to the internet, hopefully Trump’s now got the memo that periods exist from the over 5,000 women that have used the #PeriodsAreNotAnInsult hashtag.

On a more serious note, Trump’s attempt at shaming women because of periods, a completely natural process, is definitely not new. When I was in Year 9, I had a friend who would teasingly ask, “Who lit the fuse on your tampon?” whenever I was quite adamant and confident in  my views. In a world where only 12 per cent of women and girls have access to good-quality sanitary products, period stigma is a problem. On the African continent, 1 in 10 girls will miss school every month because of the lack of information and adequate facilities. When the artist Rupi Kaur posted a picture of herself fully dressed with a blood stain on her pyjamas and her sheets – and let’s be frank, all women have experienced that at least once – it was censored by Instagram. Just recently, Kiran Gandhi ran the London while “freebleeding”, aka without a tampon. While some praised her for such a radical act of bravery, some took it upon themselves to call her disgusting. And a new study has found that 55 per cent of female athletes said their periods negatively affects their training and performance. Periods can longer be that thing we only talk about in private or discreetly – there has to be a conversation.

The silliest thing about Trump’s comment was that he was actually talking about premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It’s the time before a woman starts menstruating in which she may suffer from symptoms such as bloating or mood swings that then improve once your periods start. It only proves that we need a lot more education about periods and the ways in which they impact women’s lives.

Two months ago, I wrote about why I would be live-tweeting my period. It’s because of Trump and others like him who make such misinformed and foolish comments. It’s also because we need to break the stigma of silence around something that affects half of the world’s population. I can only thank the women of the internet for trolling Trump by live-tweeting their periods and giving him a much-needed lesson in menstruation. This is the start of the menstruation revolution and I am so ready for it.