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Menstrual Activism in the movie "Padman"

Updated: Dec 12, 2021



In the movie Padman, Lakshmi discovers that his wife uses an unhygienic cloth during her periods. Since they cannot afford a branded pad, Lakshmi decides to make a sanitary pad himself and the embarrassment associated with this task compels his wife and his family to leave him and his village to banish him. This speaks volumes about our society and the culture of concealment that exists even today. This topic is so stigmatized and there is so much shame associated with it that it harms women, excludes them, and makes them feel inferior and embarrassed.

If you go to buy a sanitary pad, they'll give it to you in a brown bag, as if it contains something dirty that needs to be hidden. In the movie, when Lakshmi goes to buy a pad, the shopkeeper asks him to quiet down and hands it over from under the counter. Even the women in the movie are made to sleep for a week outside the house which exposes some of the disturbing practices that are prevalent in rural areas even today. The ads that we see on television use such 'stain prevention' and 'leak prevention' language that reinforces the shame women are made to feel.

However, because of the rise of social media, awareness about this topic is increasing, which is also known as 'menstrual activism.' In the movie, Lakshmi is trying to do just that, since he wants to make a sanitary pad that is affordable and accessible to every woman in India.


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Khubaib Riasat
Khubaib Riasat
15 Δεκ 2021

"Padman" took the unprecedented step in addressing women's menstrual periods, which is typically perceived as a controversial subject. There is no shame in a woman's reproductive cycle, and it is not taboo to educate others about it. A woman's period is a healthy and natural component of her reproductive health. However, menstrual products are still offered in brown paper bags in most parts of our countries, as if they are something to be hidden away while they are a part of nature. These taboos prevent women from participating in various activities, and it is past time for us to condemn them.

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Representation of menstruation: The representation will allow us to know what menstruation means to people through their values, ideals, and practices. In society: Historically, there has been fierce stigmatization of menstruating women, considering them impure or dangerous and restricting them from social and public life. From the second half of the 20th century to the present day, stigmatization has continued but it has been framed in a much more medicalized context. Menstruation was categorized as a hygiene crisis. The movie also starts because padman notices his wife using a ‘dirty cloth he wouldn't even use to clean his cycle.” He finds out that due to this unhygienic practice, nearly 10/12 women each month die or become infertile. This drove padman to get …

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You have raised some excellent points regarding the representation of menstruating women. Menstruating women are often perceived as impure and dirty, as you have mentioned, This is dangerous because of how it excludes women from actively participating in society and prospering, Like you pointed out, even women themselves feel ashamed about it because of the pressure they feel to conceal it and not mention it because of how negatively it will be perceived. This representation of menstruating women allows men to make women feel inferior and make them feel embarrassed about a natural process.

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The shame associated with periods is quite prevalent in Pakistani society too. For instance, brown bags are always placed next to shelves that display pads, tampons, and other menstrual products. The idea is that these products are shameful and must be hidden inside the brown bags when being purchased by women, so as to not attract attention. In fact, the LUMS Superstore also has brown bags placed next to the period products' aisle.

However, these are essential hygiene products for women, not a luxury. Women do not get to choose if they want to deal with their periods or not. Regardless, they are made to feel embarrassed regarding their menstruation, something as natural as any other bodily function. This can…


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Seeing the statistics you have shared, and what I shared during my presentation, it is so disappointing to see how women are shamed for something that half of the population faces naturally. Additionally, as to what you have said about how women do not get to choose if they want to deal with it or not, I think this is an urgent matter that needs to be addressed. Essential hygiene products are treated as a luxury and the majority of the population of Pakistan cannot even afford them. The pink tax needs to be removed, and the prices of sanitary pads should be reduced if not free for all women. However, given the state of the country, there is a…

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