Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sanitary napkins in black polythene!

There are two universal truths that most of us (women) cannot escape due to the way we are created - we have menstrual cycles and breasts. With regards to breasts, that is an essential part of our anatomy and once and for all we would like to tell the menfolk that these do not speak, so stop staring at them.

However, this post is about sanitary napkins, and the entire stigma around 'being down' or having 'those days'. Really, why do we mince words. This is a reality that cannot be avoided and hiding it under the carpet is not a healthy option. But that's a topic of serious discussions, that requires ground-level effort at a mass scale to bring about change. And, maybe starting by de-taxing sanitary napkins the Government could do a big favour. Let's hope for the best.

But, for now let's focus on our main topic, sanitary napkins in black polythene. My same gender readers, especially in urban India, would identify with this. Every time you buy pads from a local grocery or chemist, they duly wrap the package in a newspaper, put a string around it and then carefully place it in a black polythene! Why? Just why? What is the logic behind it? Well, it is either of the two - people don't want to be seen with the 'offending' pack or people don't want to see someone with the 'offending' pack. In both the cases, it is bullshit!

As girls, we were being told to be hush-hush about 'those days', our father and brother are not supposed to know about 'it'. Again, why? These are educated men, they have studied Biology and come on, mom, you menstruate every month, so dad knows, right! As for brothers, won't it be better to educate them as teenagers, and tell them to respect a woman's body as she goes through so much rather than keeping them in oblivion. Will they not become better men if they are brought up with the same sensitivity that a woman is taught?

And then of course, you are told to be coy when you go buy the pack at the shop. It is exactly this kind of nonsense that led to stigma around condoms too, and look what it did to our population!

I, for my part, did act coy and shy at a few instance in my teens, going to shops where I could see aunties at the counter. I would wait patiently for the men to go and then almost in whispers asked for Whisper (And, why is this called Whisper, why?). After going through this absurdity for a few times, I decided, it was enough. So, one day I just walked up to the chemist, which was full of men at that time, and asked in a clear voice, "Give me a pack of Whisper please." Yes, there were stares and I coolly stared back at them. That was it. My logic was simple, men don't behave all shy and coy when they have to buy their shaving kits, then why me?

As for the black polythene, I ask them to give it to me in a clear polythene or I put it in my handbag. But, how could one change their habits. These days, instead of the newspaper and black polythene, they put them in a brown paper bag, separate from other products, mind you! Well, at least the black polythene said its goodbyes.

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