I Have Two Sons And Even My Two Year Old Knows I Get A Period
In a win for common sense, Ad Standards determined on Wednesday that Libra’s ‘Blood Normal’ ad did not breach the ethics code, in spite of the almost 600 complaints against it.
This supposedly controversial ad by Asaleo Care for Libra, showed period blood on Australian television for the first time and was labelled, among many things, “vulgar”, “offensive” and “disgusting”.
My personal favourite complaint was: "It is offensive and forces parents to have discussions with our children that we have a right to have at a time appropriate for our children and should not be determined by companies pushing their products or media, airing them during family programs."
I am a mum of two boys and I find this attitude around periods astounding.
The idea that people are confronted or at the very least embarrassed by periods and want to protect children from the sight of menstrual blood takes me back to the 1980s and my UK catholic school education.
My friends and I all knew about periods because we had mothers who used tampons and we liked to read a variety of teen magazines as well as any Judy Blume books we could get our hands on.
My school however decided to leave the official education part up to our 60-year-old male science teacher (poor Mr Peters) who mumbled through an ancient black and white slide show, while we sniggered at his obvious embarrassment.
I remember his crowning glory was showing us a dusty ‘sanitary napkin belt’ from circa 1947, showing exactly how much time and enthusiasm had been put into that talk over the years.
Thankfully times have moved on a little since the 1980s.
While the Libra ad has helped to address the societal stigma around menstruation, the hundreds of complaints prove that the sight of menstrual blood in 2019 still upsets many adults and apparently children too.
I believe the complaints says a lot less about how children cope and a lot more about how their parents clearly can’t.
I might be the only woman to three males in our house, but even my two-year-old boy Leo knows something of what a period is.
If I wanted to protect him from seeing my ‘disgusting’ period, tampons and panty liners then I’d have to shut him out of our family bathroom every time I need to use it and listen to him wail outside the door.
A couple of times he’s asked what I am doing or ‘what’s that?’ and I tell him.
Thus far he seems to just take it all in, repeat the word ‘tampon’ and certainly doesn’t look offended. He then carries on playing with one of his Octonaut Gups that have taken over our bathtub.
My nine-year-old Toby no longer follows me into the toilet, but he knows that my sanitary products live in the middle drawer and that once a month I get a period.
For the sake of research, I asked him to tell me what he knew about periods today.
He looked at me in a suspicious way as if to say, ‘where is this going?’ and then without skipping a beat said, ‘duh, mum it’s when blood comes out of a woman’s vagina from her womb once a month. Something to do with having babies, yeah?’
Not even a vague blush crossed his cheeks, which is pretty impressive for a nine-year-old boy. He showed one hundred per cent less offense than the adults who were so disgusted by women having or talking about their periods on screen, that they wrote to Ad Standards.
Toby is also not offended because periods are a part of my life and I am his mum and he loves me. It’s really no big deal to him and that’s the way it should be.
However we personally feel about our periods or however our periods make us feel, the lesson to pass onto our kids -- is simply that they occur and that they are important when it comes to the reproductive process.
One day when my sons have girlfriends or friends that are girls, at least they will understand what is going on if she needs a Panadol for period pain or an emergency pack of tampons at the pub.
The quicker we adults realise the children will only be offended if we are, the better.
Featured image: Supplied