To round up our amazing Fatherhood Series, we have the Marketing Director of TOTM (Time of the Month), an organic femcare brand giving a really insightful piece on why menstrual education is important for both boys and girls.
Why menstrual education is important for both girls AND boys
As a father of two boys, I’m often asked, “do you talk to them about tampons?”. This certainly isn’t the sort of question most dad’s get on fatherhood, but there is context to the question.
I’m the Marketing Director of TOTM, an organic femcare brand – which fascinates my friends no end. For some reason, me being male, working within a femcare company, seems to generate endless questions:
‘Do you have tampons on your desk?’
‘How many times a day do you say vagina?’
‘What’s the different between a pad and liner?’
‘What are those cup things?’
They don’t ask these questions to laugh, or be childish. In the most part, they’re just trying to learn about something new to them. I’ve somehow become a resource, and a window to a world that they’ve never heard much about before. I’m their encyclopaedia of menstruation, providing the education to them that we never had in school.
We SHOULD be talking about periods
So, this is why it irks me a little when they ask if I speak to my boys about periods, because why wouldn’t I?
“You’re 32 years old, and learning about periods from your buddy in the pub.” I said to a friend who asked if I was ‘honest’ with my 5-year-old boy about what the tampons around my house were. “Of course, I’m honest with him, otherwise I just reinforce the idea that it’s something that should be hidden away”, I pointed out to him.
There are many issues with the menstrual education in this country. It can be too late, too biologically focussed (not giving enough attention to the options girls have to manage their periods), and it’s for girls only.
Each of those three points creates real problems, all of which need addressing. But the last point is the only one I want to address.
Strangely, I still remember the day at school when we were taught sex-ed (which is perhaps evidence that it came too late). We all walked to the science block as usual, dragging our feet to make the most of the 5mins allotted walk between classes. But when we got inside the teachers were stood in the corridor splitting boys and girls into separate rooms. In the boy’s class we were taught that our testicles actually had a purpose, and that we were all about to start sprouting hair in new places. Though a quick look around the room proved that message was late for some…and yet I’m still waiting on gloriously thick beard I was promised.
I’ll never know for certain what was said in the girl’s room, but I learned enough from some of the girls to know that it was about their period. And I remember the conflict in attitude as we came out of the classes. The boys counting armpit hairs to see who had the most, or any at all, while the girls were mostly quiet.
It’s important to improve education
Now, I’m assured that menstrual education has improved over the last 20yrs. However, in the most part, boys are still excluded from this. And that is my major issue.
I firmly believe that when we separate boys and girls, teaching only girls about menstruation, we’re sending the message it isn’t something that should be discussed with boys. It’s something that should be hidden, and only spoken about in quiet whisper between girls. This, I believe, is one of the major reasons the stigma and taboo surrounding periods still exists.
Why are TOTM encouraging #TalkingPeriods?
At TOTM, we’re doing what we can to encourage open conversation around periods. We recently ran a campaign called #TalkingPeriods where we encouraged bloggers, influencers, and anyone else on social media to share their periods stories, tips, tricks and hacks. We’re challenging the stigma.
There’s a long way to go to improve attitudes towards menstruation. It can be difficult to change people’s affirmed attitudes. But there is something better and arguably easier that we could be doing. We could do a better job of being honest with the next and future generations about periods.
Kid’s don’t have opinions about periods, let’s not help them form the wrong ones.
Check out TOTM lasted campaign – period powerful https://www.totm.com/campaign/period-powerful/