I have the immense honour and privilege of inaugurating Madame L’ Ovary’s blog as its first masculine writer. To what do I owe this enviable situation?
A little less than a year ago, I contacted Erica and Olivia to share my enthusiasm for their project. . I loved the environmentally responsible and feminist vision that the founders were infusing into Mme L’Ovary. Their slogan, “Zero-waste, positive menstruations” resonated doubly in my home.
The environmental cause has been close to my heart for a long time and is reflected in my professional leanings. I have had fewer opportunities, however, to express the feminist sentiment that I live with (a maternal inheritance).
But why did the subject of menstruation seem appropriate to me as a starting point to contribute as a man to this cause?
It all started in elementary school
My oldest memory associated with menstruation brings me back to a classmate who, at 10 years old, discovered the joys of “being a woman”—in the middle of the schoolyard, in her white pants. In my memory I hold her face clouded in fear, shame, and profound misunderstanding. The mocking of many boys around her did not help.
I had compassion for her, and I didn’t understand the mockery she was subjected to. My knowledge of a woman’s cycle at the time was somewhere between total ignorance and the reading of some purely physiological summaries found in children’s books to explain how babies are born. It was not until much later that I was exposed to the dubious jokes and derogatory comments that surround the subject when boys discuss it.
Even during my adult life, when men talk about women’s periods, their opinions vary at best from “that annoying thing when we want to have sex” to, at worst, “some disgusting symptom pointing to the inferiority of the feminine condition.” The connection between menstruation and female fertility (and therefore, to all human life), the joys of parenthood, or at least their own existence, all remain overlooked.
However, this is the link that I think it is important to remember and is where I want to make my entry into supporting the feminist cause.
Why is my (male) view on the subject important?
I originally expected to support Erica and Olivia in more technical aspects of their business, which was the case for a while. I never thought I would have such a public role as writing for their blog. I was very honoured but also surprised when they proposed writing an article dealing with menstruation from a man’s point of view. I wholeheartedly accepted.
However, every time I imagined myself writing, a question always came back:
What gives me the right to talk about positive menstruation to the general public?
I don’t have medical training in connection with the female reproductive system (I have no medical training of any sort!).
I didn’t do a thesis on modern feminist sociology (I didn’t even study sociology!)
I am far from being perfect in the way I have treated women in my life.
I haven’t even been in a relationship long enough to have significant experience of a partner’s menstrual cycle and its influences on her life and our relationship.
And, above all, I am not a woman—I have never menstruated!
I recently shared these insecurities about my legitimacy speaking about this topic with a friend who had the following reflection, which was, for me, the key that allowed me to write this article:
“Yeah, you have no idea how many of my friends—even the ones who’ve been in a relationship for a long time, even if they have had children with their partner—don’t feel understood and welcomed by them in the changes that occur during their menstrual cycle. Almost systematically, men attach themselves to the part of the cycle they prefer and are frustrated the rest of the time, when their partner is not in their best state in terms of mood and libido. It happens with almost all my friends… .”
It all made me a little sad, but also hopeful, when I said to myself:
This is what it’s come to …
Sadness that this is are far as we’ve gotten, that the struggles of feminism have only brought us to this point, where in order to speak in public about menstruation, on the blog of a brand whose slogan is “Positive menstruation,” a man doesn’t need to have studied medicine or sociology, or have an impeccable track record with women, or even significant experience being in a partnership with a woman.
It only takes a good dose of healthy curiosity, a lot of kindness, and a sincere desire to contribute to a world in which relations between men and women are more harmonious to be given the opportunity to talk … It doesn’t seem like much to me.
That said, it is also this small requirement that gives me hope. The bar is not that high. Obstacles to better relationships can easily be overcome. I trust that kindness, curiosity, and understanding are easier to awaken in people than a career as a gynecologist or sociologist. And we all have a better relationship to gain with menstruation.
I will finish this article on a positive note:
Gentlemen, I encourage you to cultivate kindness and understanding towards the women around you and the emotional rollercoasters that they are on.
Ladies and girls, thank you for bringing us life, and for so often showing us the way of benevolence and understanding.
With the pleasure of soon coming back to the pen to contribute in my own way.