Periods: ‘3eib’ is a Sexist Excuse for Your Ignorance and It Could Kill Me

By: Salma Gharraf

I’m going to say this loud and clear, okay? As a 16 year old highschool student, it’s not ok for me to see classmates recently finding out what their period actually is, even though they first had it years ago. “I just thought I bleed every month 3adi for no reason”, had me in shock. But then I paused and thought about it for a second. I, myself, didn’t also know much about my period. Matter of fact, anything that I discovered about my body was thanks to Buzzfeed’s youtube channel, when they’d ask women random period questions and stuff guys are supposedly too afraid to ask. In other words, western media is what guided me. I thought it was funny, but it really isn’t.

Mom was always the quiet type, who’d give you an answer 3ala ad el so2al – maybe because she, herself, didn’t know much. All her responses to my thoughts on menstruation were vague and unuseful, the only thing that I remember and that’s stuck with me till this day was her reaction to one particular question “Did you tell your dad when you first got it?” I was probably 10, unaware of the fact that it was a taboo topic, the word itself didn’t exist in my dictionary, asking an innocent question, excited, feeling like I was finally growing up. She just shouted “Of course not!”, and I was so confused, did I say something wrong? Why hasn’t she told him? What was so bad about it, that she shied away from speaking about it?

That reaction of hers most likely explains why I didn’t want to tell my dad, or anyone at all really, when I first had mine. I was indirectly taught, or at least made to understand, that my period was weird (read: 3eib). I didn’t even talk about it with my female friends or family members and somehow, they’d never mention it. The word period itself became a weight on my tongue. I thought it was “cool” to call it other terms and names, anything that would conceal what it was, because everyone at my school would do that. Whether it be weird ass names like “Ne3mat” or “Madi7a”, even “Sawsan”-that was a funny one-, or food/ beverages “Nescafe”. “lollipop”, and some other strange things keda that I cringe at now. I found it extremely bizarre, that in an all girls school, talking about menstruation and the female body and hearing any advice from our teachers concerning our hygiene would be met with giggles and hysterical laughs and not any actual information? That I need? Because it’s my body?…What?

Even when we became teenagers and got used to having a period, getting a pad out of your bag in the middle of class was a scandal, you’d have to hide it in your pockets. Some of my friends don’t like passing them around when teachers are present to this day. Oh god, don’t get me started on the stares, whispers, and giggles I got whenever I talked about being on my period with a boy somewhere in the vicinity. 

Why? Why can’t I talk about something as natural and normal as this? How am I supposed to learn about my body? How it functions? What hygiene do I need? Why do I bleed? How can I make my pain less? What amount of pain is too much pain and I need a hospital? How do I deal with bloodstains? Why are menstrual products not accessible in public or school bathrooms? Why is that excruciating pain not an excuse to get out of class? What are common conditions that come with menstruation? Anything about reproductive health? Anyone? Because school is definitely no help at all

Also, hold up. Why do workers in pharmacies have to put the packages in black plastic bags?!! Why must it be a secret, for a girl to be on her period? You treat it like some type of lethal illness. 3eib is absolutely no excuse for this blatant sexism, detrimental and fatal ignorance, and it’s also definitely not a validation of some shame I’m supposed to feel. Screw 3eib when it hides vital knowledge. Screw 3eib when it can legitimately kill me. 

Don’t get me started on men and their ignorance regarding menstruation, either. Their stuck up remarks and “is it that time of the month?” jokes. As if talking back, expressing repressed emotions, and letting out anger out can only happen when we’re bleeding, because we’re so SenSItIvE and ToO MucH tO hAnDLe, you know? Why does the word vagina seem so scary to others? It’s a damn organ! Just like your liver, your stomach, your lungs. Stop telling me you’re uncomfortable when you have the nerve to sexualize a girl in front of my own eyes, so casually and easily. My health matters, my life matters, and none of this is a joke.

I’m done with my period being frowned upon. Stop telling your daughters or sisters to shut up when a male figure walks into the room, stop shaming them for trying to find out more about their bodies, about new menstrual products, about loving themselves, about the gifts they’ve been blessed with. Let’s talk about periods, let’s be more comfortable in our own skin, in our own bodies, let’s learn to appreciate ourselves for handling so much pain, for being able to give life and learn how to take care of everything “down there”. If you think I’m audacious, then so be it, I’m audacious, I’m bold, I’m too much. I’m everything you’re too afraid to be, because your comfort zone is suffocating (and killing) me.

Your “3eib” is plainly sexist, whether you admit it or not. A made up excuse to justify your lethal ignorance and fear of educating yourself and the women in your life about their bodies. Today, we learn to throw 3eib out of the window in situations where it supposedly validates a girl’s shame.

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