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Menstruation in Media - yes, its time to talk about it

We all know that women go through this menstruation cycle every month, that we are visited by ‘aunt flow’ and *insert every possible euphemism for getting your period* - yet a clear representation of this very natural phenomenon is difficult to find in the media. The empowerment, the essence of womanhood is barely explored.


One prime example that comes to mind is the movie Pad-Man, starring Akshay Kumar as the lead and based on a true story of an Indian man who made a machine to make safe and disposable sanitary napkins for women. It was truly an amazing movie and most definitely was a step in the right direction for raising awareness. Even though it had other problems like emphasising how the true protector of a woman will always be a man, the basic idea behind the creation of the movie surely tackles the lack of awareness in the audience.


However, its not always as simple as this. Another prime example of this topic is the movie Carrie. It shows (in a rather graphic way) that Carrie gets her period for the first time, while she is in school and is completely clueless about it (the case for a lot of young girls). However, what happens here is that she gets bullied about not knowing and overreacting, she is recorded, and it becomes public information and she’s ridiculed for it. In reality, if this happened she would have found herself surrounded by girls who are actually willing to help her out. I feel like the scene just puts additional stigma on a topic thats already so sheltered. That if you get your period in school, you will be ridiculed and bullied for a completely natural process. Its something to be proud of, to be happy about, because it gives you a sense of empowerment. But all of that is just thrown out and shown as a process to be ashamed of.


The most recent example, which actually gave rise to this highly unstructured post was the scene in The Queen’s Gambit. Its seen that Beth is up against a boy and she suddenly feels a cramp, goes to the bathroom and finds another girl there who helps her out (yaaassssss!). But there is a problem here too. For a show that is all about Beth and her growth, her journey as a woman, her period was still shown as something that was a hinderance in her game, something that clouded her judgement and she had to fix in order to compete with the males. I feel like it could have been portrayed better; that she was proud of her womanhood rather than considering it a nuisance, an obstacle.

What do you guys think? Can you think of more examples? Is there really a representation problem around menstrual cycles?

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There is a lack of positive representation of menstruation in media. Padman is an example of how we can use films to promote positive representations of menstruation by challenging and eradicating menstruation stereotypes. Usually, movies portray menstruation as some comedic tool, a cause of embarrassment and insult. However, I believe that this negative trend is changing. Forums like social media have become platforms where women discuss topics like menstruation openly. It is time to challenge the shame and stigma attached to periods, and media is a platform that can play a crucial role in achieving this as most women learn a lot about their bodies through media products.


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Completely agree with you. I loved how the queens gambit dealt with it maturely and healthily, showing we need to support and be supported, without sexualising, patronizing, or making it seem taboo.

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I completely agree with your take on this matter. Growing up, I've seen how media has always depicted mensuration as something to be scared of and disgusted by. The example you gave about the show queens gambit is what stood out to me. While I was watching the show, the fact that they showed her to be so uncomfortable with having periods and and as something that could affect her performance was quite irritating as mensuration is quite a natural thing and shouldn't be treated as a stumbling block in a woman's life.

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I think I've grown up thinking periods were gross because of how I've seen them in film, and only recently realised that it's something that's so heavily stigmatised and should be talked about. Media needs to play an important role, and can maybe show a period as a coming of age and about bodily exploration - a stage all of us have gone through. It's also used as a bad comedic trope in some places, with jokes at the expense of the girls who are experiencing them. I think its fine to use this comedically but it should be done tastefully without making them look bad, and should at least be relevant to the plot

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I agree with you. If it was up to Media to dictate our feelings towards menstruation, we would all go about life believing that periods were gross, dangerous, scary, and meant to be kept a secret. Our media has been plagued with ‘periods are gross’ scenes and messages; to the point of an epidemic of menstrual aggression from all sides.

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