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NON-MENSTRUATING ALLY

PARIKSHIT NADIMPALLI

For centuries what women can do and can't do during their natural menstrual cycles have been determined by nothing more than superstition and religious dogma, especially in the Indian society. It continues to this day. Most people still consider women "impure" during a time when many of them have to endure painful cramps, depression and sometimes even suicidal behaviour.

I, as a non menstruating ally, pledge to give unconditional and non-judgmental support to any woman who reaches out to me during her time of need, and if my help is inadequate, I shall guide her to the right place to get her the help she needs. I call upon all other men to be part of the dialogue on menstruation, so that no woman should have to suffer in silence ever again. There's nothing embarrassing about menstruation, it's a natural cycle half the population of the world goes through.

We as men should help begin the conversation, but once women start speaking up, we shouldn't overshadow their experiences and problems by making it about ourselves. Our only goal should be to encourage women to speak out, not to become saviors of damsels in distress.

I urge everyone to treat menstruation as a normal thing that happens to all women, and not something that has to be spoken about only behind closed doors.

SHUVOPRIYO ROY

I believe men must be a non menstruating ally. Why? I mean, Why not?

Menstruation is a process to which men must be privy too. I, for one, wasn't until high school and it's preposterous when I think about it.

We don't live in a world which lives separately on the basis of biological sex. We spend our lives working, talking and living, next to the opposite sex. Our colleagues, friends, people around us undergo menstruation and it's not easy for them. The least we could do is understand and probably support them through the period, be it through understanding, listening, or even silence (in some cases).

What doesn't help? The total disregard for the same. Insensitivity.

We live in a country where menstruation is a huge taboo. We don't even speak about it no matter how many adverts on whisper etc come up on the television. Meanwhile, girls drop out of schools in rural areas when menstruation sets in.

 

To tackle such regressive effects, we all must come together as a collective and normalize this in our minds. We must come together to break this taboo. There need not be any awkward silence regarding this. There shouldn't be any whispering into the ears regarding the onset of the menarche. Menstrual products should not be sold in black polythene bags.

It's normal, why shroud it? It's natural. Why let it hinder anyone's life?

Let's get together. I am Shuvopriyo Roy, and I am a non menstruating ally!

SUHAS VAIDYA

Let me get it out there - Menstruation is very normal. Millions of girls and women menstruate, but yet the topic when brought up, never fails to disgust a bunch of people.

 

Religious opinions on the topic have filtered down through centuries, but thousands and thousands of minds around the country still associate impurity and dirt to this absolutely natural process.

 

As a Non-Menstruating Ally, I acknowledge the impact and hindrance periods play in women's lives, affecting their daily functions, as well as their mental health. This sometimes spirals into severe bouts of cramps, depression, and in some cases even suicidal tendencies.

I urge you, yes you, to be that person who cares for a menstruating human around you kindly, gently, and with oodles of love. It might not be great efforts from your side, but the impact it has on the person would be impeccable and heartwarming. It's easy to get out of hard times with support from friends and family. But nowadays, even if it's a stranger you see at work, in public transport, or anywhere in any phase of life that might be in any sort of pain, be sure to offer help. It goes miles in helping their mental health!

ROUNAK GHOSH

The non-acceptance of a natural, biological phenomenon like menstruation amongst the people of the present-day society is an ignominy entailing disgrace. To enunciate the change which points to a world where the topic of menstruation isn't grasped by trepidation but is liberating and treated as the same level of importance as of everything else, it's time for men to step up and join the conversations lending their hand of support and providing efficient abutment to effectuate this change.

 

With menstruation, comes varied mental health issues which are far overlooked and treated as something petty and unimportant, imperilling the emotional well-being of millions.

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself", the lines of Leo Tolstoy reverberates the ardent necessity for men to support this cause of paramount importance.

I am Ron, and I am a Non-menstruating ally.

SHUBHANKAR SHAH

When one doesn’t personally experience pain and exclusion, it is easy to brush aside the pain and marginalization of others, if not to forget it altogether. We live in echo chambers that make us oblivious to the reality of others. Therefore, some things require being said and have to be repeated at regular intervals, until they become as ‘normal’ as they can be. People at the end of the day set the norm.

As someone who does not go through menstruation, it is easy for me to disregard the impact it has on women around me. But that has to change. I have to be more sensitive and kind; more proactive in trying to understand the pain and process of menstruation.

 

Hence, I choose to be a Non-menstruating ally and pledge to “learn, listen, and support.” I urge you to do the same. Join @beyondblood_india and spread the menstrual message.  As Jewell Parker Rhodes said, “prejudice is sinful. All blood flows red…"

VAIBHAV

We are living in a world where the stigma around menstruation goes far beyond euphemisms. I remember when growing up, the conversations about periods among my mother and sister were always behind doors. I grew up with the notion that it is a woman‘s problem and we as men need to stay away. At school, my ignorance was shared by many. I remember one time a girl’s period leaked onto her clothes, everyone laughed, including me. As a man, I conveniently concluded the idea that menstruation is this big shameful secret women would like to keep hidden.

Shying away from understanding menstruation impacts all. When the woman in your life is struggling with it, it impacts us as well. Would it not be prudent to be a part of understanding this process? Learn, listen and support.

 

A few of the things I can think of; a comprehensive education for the boys and girls together to sensitize them towards this matter. Something that was missing in my school years. In retrospect, that would have really helped. Also, to start with an open, non-judgmental discussion with friends especially men. It's about time men get privy to it.

I am Vaibhav Chauhan and I choose to be a Non-Menstruating Ally and pledge to "learn, listen and support". I urge you to give it a shot. Join @beyondblood_india and spread the Menstrual message. Think beyond Red and embrace the beauty of a women’s menstrual cycle.

JAI  IYER

It is vital to have a free and open conversation to develop a positive attitude towards menstruation because talking about menstruation helps women gain control over their menstrual cycles, thus being able to manage it and defuse the pain and anguish (in most cases).

Menstrual taboos and myths, which cause many to develop perceptions about menstruation as disgusting and shameful have negative impacts on girls and women. Women are stereotyped in negative ways because of their natural reproductive organs and functions. Women also bear the financial burden, psychological stress, and social stigma thus impacting their self-esteem and ability to live a life of dignity.

As I was growing up, I realized that people in our culture were not encouraged and at times even shamed for trying to understand menstruation. My parents, on the other hand, had an open conversation regarding the same and had very positive responses to my questions, which I think all parents should do. I came to understand that not addressing menstruation openly affects us, men, too. The mental health of any human being is important, especially our close ones, and the women in our lives, i.e, friends and family need to be mentally healthy. This can only be achieved by having open conversations about menstrual health. And I would hate to see a loved one suffer in silence.


Most people, on the other hand, keep away because they are taught to think that menstruation is a women’s issue alone. I am Jai Iyer and I believe we need to bridge this gap of knowledge and hence I choose to be a Non-menstruating ally.

ARJUN​ UNNIKRISHNAN

In 2015, I co-founded The Red Cycle @redcycleorg, a grassroots movement, based in Kerala, which aims to address various facets of menstruation through knowledge-sharing and action. Our vision is to break the silence and normalise the conversation around menstruation through a rights-based approach that integrates multilevel interventions such as community engagement and policy advocacy. In our struggle, we are determined to create a just and equitable society where the last menstruating person is not subjugated by majoritarian beliefs and corporate profiteering.

In 2018, when I was attending my third year of law, a friend of mine shared an experience that changed the way I used to see the discourse on menstrual health. Suhasini, the said friend, used to get sick often and once, she told me that she didn’t menstruate for almost three months. She was forced by her family to take anti-period pills to delay menstruation as she had to attend a festival in the family temple and also whenever she visited her paternal home. This was done against her will and she found the whole practice unjust as it started affecting her physical and mental health let alone her personal choices.

 

Around the same period, The Supreme Court of India pronounced the verdict in Sabarimala case. Justice DY Chandrachud in his judgement said: “Exclusion based on the menstrual status of a person, has no place in a constitutional order founded on the principles of liberty and dignity.” In this light, I believe the issue of menstrual untouchability deserves serious attention as it’s still being practised in our families in one way or the other. It also demands the active participation of non-menstruating allies in the Menstrual Health Rights.

 

In solidarity with @beyondblood_india for their non-menstruating ally initiative, I am Arjun Unnikrishnan, a non-menstruating ally!

PRANAV

For a long time, I was very ignorant about a lot of things around me. For me, Periods were just something I knew women had and I gave no thought to even trying to understand it. But ever since I joined Muse Foundation in 2018, I have come across various taboos and myths surrounding menstruation.

The discrimination, pain, and trauma it caused – stories with a face that's so haunting, it made me feel helpless. I couldn't and probably never will fathom what every menstruator must be going through.

That's when I decided to learn and research as much as I can and above all, began a dialogue with all the menstruators around me, so that I may be supportive to them in any way I can. Two years on, after many conversations and a lot of introspection, I am still learning as I go.

I am Pranav Trivedi and as a Non-menstruating ally, I pledge to be supportive to all the menstruators.

ASIF

Stigma remains attached to menstruation even today in many parts of the world which actively prevents those who bleed from seeking professional or social help, when in need. A feeling of embarrassment and a fear of being stigmatized constantly demotivates menstruators from sharing their menstrual experiences. The lack of awareness and education on menstruation and the social taboos that accompany the menstrual cycle contributes to the stigmatization of menstruation.

In addition to that, the cultural beliefs make the subject unapproachable. Growing up in a society where menstruation is considered a sin, ensured that nobody around me shared anything, let alone the difficulties they faced during their period.


I believe the right thing to do is provide your loved ones with non-judgemental support and I will start with myself. Let's create more safe spaces to support and encourage talking freely, breaking taboos and holding inclusive awareness sessions. I am Asif and I choose to be a non-menstruating ally.