For the past month or so I’ve been taking this class called “Mindfulness Boot Camp” which is an insane amount of fun. Eight or ten grownups are in a gym size room working their way through various resistance and weight training exercises. Yesterday we climbed up the wall on ropes, did the spider crawl the width of a gym sized room, jumped rope, did weighted hula hoop, and lots of squats and things with resistance bands for legs and arms. In both classes there were some very fit men in their forties, some surprisingly fit overweight girls in their twenties, a couple of old bags in decent shape like I am, and of course the instructor who is ripped within an inch of his life. He participates along with us, all the while shouting out encouraging bits like, “Finish strong!”
I have left the class each week, tired and sweaty and realizing how much I need to play hard, something that was drilled into me not to do as a young woman growing up in the south—I can only pray the south of today is significantly different—but you never know. Look how long it took them to take down a few moldering statues of slave loving generals.
My particular athletic career (track and field and especially swimming at which I excelled) was cut short by the arrival of my period somewhere around the age of twelve.
Even though I had an older sister and a mother, several aunts, a grandmother and at least three close girlfriends, I remember knowing so little about the whole thing, that I announced to my mother, “I think administration is here!”
I remember I made this announcement in the doorway of her bedroom with the en suite bathroom. I remember too the shocked look on her face when she shouted, “NO! You’re making this up!”
I also remember when I insisted on showing her the evidence; she went from angry and accusatory to sad and resigned. I was sent to her en suite loo, told to sit and sometime later a nasty looking rig, like a garter belt with an armrest appeared. And that—in spite of my city record in the butterfly and the individual medley—was the end of my athletic career, as I knew it.
What is a much bigger deal is the amount of money made by multi-nationals on products for the female nether region—the one Harvey Weinstein went after and after and after. The same region 45 bragged he got to grab—because he’s a celebrity.
That region, the female down there, in the religion of my forefathers and mothers, is meant to be unclean. Orthodox Jews still require a mikva to make it kosher for the gents to go down there at all after the filthy event that happens every month. I’m about to go look up and see if it’s the same for Muslim women.
First there are the philosophical underpinnings. Then there’s the billions and billions of dollars spent on products to staunch the flow in as unnatural and uncomfortable way as possible. And make the multinationals even richer!
(How many women do you suppose run multinational companies?)
My friend Delphine Hirsh, a great writer and interesting, funny human being, just started an org called theflow.world to spread the word about better, healthier and cheaper reusable options. For example, the simple little menstrual cup (lifetime cost: $120 versus over $4K for pads and tampons!) is not just the answer to so many girls’ prayers but also keeps thousands and thousands of used tampons and pads out of landfills and sewage. These products are kind to your body, light on your wallet, easy on the environment and perhaps help do away with the undue brouhaha associated with down there.
Could it be possible?
Here’s the link to staunch the flow: theflow.world
I just looked up what Muslim women do (and often Muslim and Jewish rules are the same) and yes, the Muslim women are forbidden to have sex when they have their periods. And in fact, are not even supposed to fast or pray.
That, of course, could be a big relief come Ramadan.
Illustration by the fabulous Aimee Levyby