#HappyToBleed: 'Sustained conversation' will eliminate perceiving menstruation as taboo

A 'sustained conversation' in the society over menstruation could possibly alter the societal perception of taboo prevailing over this natural occurrence with a woman's body at her fertile age.

The significant role women required to run in the 'P' (Patriarchal) society is to initiate the debate. "After I identified myself with the 'sensible debate' on menstruation leading the conversation, my mother now feels comfortable to discuss the topic in length," expressed Sharmada, one of the campaigners of #happytobleed, in an exclusive interview to OneIndia


"The starting step for women is to engage in conversation with people around," Sharmada says firmly. In a society, where a woman's monthly cycle is considered as taboo and some alien process, debate and discussion will act as one of the tools to alter the sick view. Only a conversation could mend societal perception established in bygone era.

Jogging the memory

It could be recalled that Sharmada was the first responded to the campaign #happytobleed, kick started by a 20-year-old girl Nikita Aazad, a college student and gender right activist from Patiala, Punjab. This fallout was in reaction to a misogynistic and sexist statement by Chief of popular Sabarimala temple located in the state of Kerala.

Sabarimala controversy: #HappyToBleed campaign on social media gains momentum

The Chief of the temple, Prayar Gopalakrishnan recently said he would think of granting the permission for the female devotees to enter the shrine of Lord Ayyappa after scientists invent a machine to detect whether or not women had their periods. Irked by this sexist statement Nikita Azad on the Facebook launched #happytobleed campaign.

Sharmada's course

Sharmada, while continuing the conversation, informed that as soon Nikita's post winked on her Facebook page, she tuned into active mode to join the campaign by sending a photo of her holding a placard scripted with hashtag #happytobleed.

Sharmada, who has been actively involved in gender sensitisation programs across schools in Bengaluru, herself sent copies of her photos to Feminism in India and countercurrent.org. And it all started from there, with Sharmada being the first responder to the campaign against sexist 'P' remark.

In a society, Sharmada stressed where religion offers no space to question and inquire on this subject, this natural process has been traditionally looked at as taboo. Moreover, many women hesitate to discuss issues revolving around it.

'I too have a mind'

The confident Sharmada raised a serious point in a brief chat with OneIndia. "I do not want any man to display sympathy when I undergo bleeding, which is quite natural for woman's body," she pointed.

She further added, instead of being benevolent, men should be in a state of awareness to know that a woman possesses a 'mind' and she too can 'think'. "I have a mind, I too can think," Sharmada expressed loudly.

Talking on the atrocious statement of Prayar, Sharmada recalled that when her mother came across the view expressed by the chief of the temple, mother shared with Sharmada that she was offended to hear such words.

"Though my mother does not vouch to many of my views, she said that she too was offended by the statement of Prayar," Sharmada divulged.

While on a lighter note when asked do you feel a machine needs to be introduced to change the mindset of Prayar, Sharmada quipped saying a machine has to be assembled to check whether or not men had their erection.

Harmful justification

Sharmada, who works with Pasand, a social enterprise in the areas of menstrual and reproductive health, was also seen in a prominent private news channel debating the issue.

She took Rahul Eshwar head-on on the topic, where Rahul was invited to the show to counter the #happytobleed agitators' views.

"Rahul Eshwar in the show justified Prayar's scanner reference was only metaphoric. I wonder what is metaphoric scanner," she questioned and laughed.

However, she observed that Eshwar enjoys massive fan followers and his imbecile justification could lead to wrong influence among a few chunk in the society. "These views by likes of Eshwar and Prayar are toxic," she hit out.

Sharmada says such view and statements only prove that 'P' society looks at her only as the 'Object of Desire'.

"Unfortunately many women endorse the view which for me is more hurtful," Sharmada lamented and also added, "There is nothing astonishing in men offending women's 'freedom of thought', but what is more harmful is women toeing the similar line."

End hush-hush, Educate

Hush-hush culture over menstrual occurrence has to end. Parents should hold outspoken conversation with children. The women must know what is happening to her body. The society on its shoulders has the onus to educate. All should make use of advent of Internet, as it did in the case of #happytobleed, as a tool to continue the conversation that is long way to go.


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