Endless Discussion: Periods don't Exist, Period.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Periods dont exist, PERIOD

I’ve been, well, questioning myself if this is even a discussion worth posting. Is this something worth discussing? Like, will other fellow human beings be like “HELL YES” or “YASSS, SOMEONE FINALLY SAID IT”. Well, I’ve decided to find out and do it anyway because, why the hell not.

It’s funny, really, how I use to read books and NEVER question if the female characters are experiencing any pain from terrible cramps. Or if they’re in fear and/or experiencing paranoia normal girls go through when they’re on their period.

I never really questioned it until I reached the near end of primary school and I was reading a book and thought to myself, “Wait, how is she doing all this without the mention of a single tampon or cramps for that matter etc”. I even had a great discussion afterwards with my English teacher/someone older than me/ someone who knew what they were talking about. I asked her why it’s never mentioned in books. I mean I was 12 at the time and was very curious because I knew it existed, friends knew it existed, BUT in books periods NEVER did, it was as if it was a book rule "One must not mention Periods unless you want to die" (okay, not die but you get the jist). Why is there no casual reference about periods and all the things that go with it?

My teacher and I both discussed how they’re only mentioned in, I guess you could call it, negative ways. For example, the words Period is only mentioned (in the books we have read), when someone has a pregnancy scare or in relation to miscarriages. In these cases, Periods are perceived mostly as ‘evil’ and this kind of scared all my girl friends. I mean don’t get me wrong, miscarriages are heart breaking but in Young Adult books we need a neutral and in some sense 'positive' voice that assures us that we CAN be bad asses whilst our bodies do their thang. I mean it's natural, every girl goes through it at different stages of their lives, so why not mention it in books. I mean I was 12 guys, I wanted to know how girls handled their periods. Everyone in my grade wanted to know when I told them about it. We were all so damn curious.

I mean I was reading a fantasy novel which sparked this whole discussion up. I read about her adventures, how she’d kick ass and save lives BUT the book never ever mentioned her period. It was as if periods didn’t exist, period. As a 12 year old girl at the time, I ALWAYS wondered how the main character just ‘magically’ did everything right without the worry of her menstrual cycle happening at all. Like HOW?!?! My curiosity peaked when I started getting into more dystopian and historical Young Adult fiction in high school. I was so curious about how the heroines handled their periods. For example Katniss, how in the world did you ever survive without worrying about your Period. Even better, Tessa from the Infernal Devices, how in the world did she handle her period? She's from a different time and place and it just makes you wonder how she'd taken care of her period. 

I mean I’ve only ever read one book that had mentioned periods and all the things that go with it and it was by one of my favourite authors Melina Marchetta. We had to read her books for a whole term for an English assignment in grade 10, years after my curiosity of periods in books began. That was the best term in all my schooling years, because 1. MELINA MENTIONED PERIODS AND I WAS SO OVER THE MOON! Because I basically told myself that the main character could be me! The main character is me, she's a female character that has periods, like, isn't that the greatest? And 2. All the girls who read the book who I had the opportunity to discuss and fangirl with, loved the book because they could in every way relate to the female character and it was all because of Melina mentioning periods (and I’m not going to lie, but also because of the high school romance).

I know young girls would appreciate it so much if periods were talked about more in books, I would appreciate it more, because in real life girls do talk about their periods. We have each others backs. I don’t know why most books don’t mention them casually. I was just 12 when I started to question why periods were never mentioned in books; just 12. Now that I’m older, I wish I could give 12 year old me all of Melina Marchetta’s books to help her, to assure her, to assist her and to tell her that the woman’s body, your body, my body is beautiful and in every way, periods are good (except for the cramps, they’re bloody painful).

Finishing up, I know it’s awkward for many to talk about the natural things our bodies do and crave and what not, but I think someone out there, in the big wide world would appreciate this discussion, with all its awkwardness and ramblings. Girls DO have periods. WE all have them in real life. So why don’t they exist in books? Books reflect reality and they share opinions and morals that everyone should *consider* having, so the inclusion of periods in books in all genres would be fantastic and a reassurance to all girls that periods are normal and natural. No one should be ashamed about talking about periods, it’s natural. So celebrating it, talking about it, referring to it in books would be appreciated fellow authors; aspiring, debuts and published alike. *drops mic*

UPDATE: The discussion sparked a handful of responses from Instagramers! WE have young women wanting to know about periods with vampires ! Especially in Twilight. We have young women wondering how women dealt with their periods in the past. I had kind aussie authors recommending their books which had periods in them !! Lili Wilkinson and Justine Larbalestier had previously mentioned periods in one of theirs books ! Also young teens were also VERY curious about periods in dystopian novels. Lastly one of the teens talked about a fanfic where Katniss had to inject herself with a device which stopped her period and that was something pretty incredible to think about.

13 comments on "Endless Discussion: Periods don't Exist, Period."
  1. This only makes me want to read Throne of Glass even more !! Sarah's writing is truly beautiful, I adored A court of thorns and roses. I am now officially bumping it up on my tbr pile.

  2. This is one of my pet peeves, too. Great post!

    There's mention in Truthwitch, but it's in a fairly negative context - a character is trying to avoid rape and so they essentially tell him she has her period.

    1. Oh wow, I've yet to read Truthwitch. But yes, I've always wondered about how girls just do things without the worry of their periods. Like Katniss for example, or Tris and even Tessa from the Infernal Devices. It's all really forgotten about and that's what I find weird and just misleading sometimes.

  3. I was like 7 when I found out about them - I entered a lucky dip at a local shop and in the pack were all things teenage girls would want. I had two eye shadow palettes and a blue lipstick of some sort, but I gravitated toward a small booklet. That booklet, without even knowing, talked about periods and pregnancy and my mum got a tad spooked because I started talking about periods at the dinner table the same day. She told me it was all fake lmao, so I believed her until I was 10 and a friend got hers at school. She didn't know what was happening but I did.

    Introducing or even mentioning periods and how girls take care of them in books would essentially help out a lot of girls. That's one of the main reasons why I think they should be mentioned in books besides the main one of curiosity and being true to the female character and all it's biology.

    Thank you also ! I've been avoiding it for months now because I was wondering whether or not it was something worth discussing about. Turns out a lot of people have been as curious as me >.<

  4. THIS. So much YES to this discussion. I've always wondered why periods are never mentioned. Like, as you said about THG, how did she survive without worrying about her period? Or like books about the world ending (with zombies, aliens, etc), what are they using to absorb everything (I mean you're not just going to let everything drip down bc that would be the most uncomfortable thing ever lol)?? Basically no BOOK EVER MENTIONS PERIODS. I swear there's only two books I've read that talk about periods and those are Throne of Glass & Fangirl.

  5. This post is so much yes!!! Not only periods but books/movies/tv shows don't really talk about pregnancy or contraception. And I'm like da fudge? Like there's teens sleeping with people all over the place but NO ONE ends up pregnant. This is something that should be talk about in a lot of books/tv shows/movies. It's kinda big part of life for us girls. Having people seeing periods in books/tv shows/movies would help so much. It would make it less of a taboo thing as well as help dudes understand what periods are and that it isn't something to be scared off.
    The first book that came to mind when I saw the title was Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness series. The main charater is a girl pretending to be a boy (so she can become a knight) and she start like when she's 11. So she gets her period while pretending to be a boy and flips out about it and goes to someone in the city to help her. And the lady who helps her also gives her a necklace charm to wear to ward against pregnancies. And the charm is metioned through the series...especially when she's romantic with a guy. It's great and awesome!

    Sorry for the rambling. I have so much to say about this topic and could probably rant about it. :)

  6. I read Are You There God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume before I got my period and a big part of the book is Margaret getting her period for the first time and how she reacts and just reading that book was so comforting and honestly helped me as much as classes and talks with my mom about it. Such an important book and it makes me sad to realize your point and to think that I haven't really read another book that was so honest about it that wasn't about pregnancy and/or a pregnancy scare. We must do better

    Great and necessary post!!

  7. I think the reason it's never mentioned is the same reason why you never see characters take bathroom breaks or eat breakfast -- 99% of the time, it's just not relevant to the plot. Of course you know that Billy and Susie go to the bathroom, eat breakfast, and brush their teeth before bed, but none of that relates to their missions to save the world, or whatever the plot may be. The exceptions are books where periods (and other bodily functions) are central to the plot, such as "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret." Even if a writer tosses in some casual mention of a character feeling cramps as she marches off to the Next Big Plot Point, it will probably get cut during the editing process because it's just not essential to the reader's understanding of what/when/who/why.

  8. I believe most authors are like out of sight, out of mind. They don't want to bring up something "unpleasant" even thought it's totally natural. I think we need to keep having discussions like these. These discussions usually make me think about my book and what it could possibly be missing.

  9. I agree completely! Now that you mention it - how on earth was Katniss' period not an issue during the Hunger Games? I do recall some YA fantasies mentioning periods by passing, but they never really talk about them in detail. I do remember reading a time-traveling book (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris) wherein the main character discussed thoroughly how periods were handled during that time. But in all honestly, I really don't understand why authors don't discuss periods enough - is the topic that taboo?

    Great discussion, Meleika!

    Lyra @ Defiantly Deviant

  10. I'm late to this discussion but I'm jumping in anyways because I love this post! I honestly, and very sadly admit that I never thought much of it until I got involved with the book community last year. And despite reading forever before then, I'm a little disappointed in myself for never considering this when reading books. I don't understand why even now in 2016 periods are considered taboo. Everyone knows about them, 3/4 of women have them, it's natural, it's thing, now that's accept it already! But I also realize that I've only just recently (in the last couple of years) have really been okay talking about periods and such. Which is really really sad, and I wish that wasn't so common. I hope in the very near future that authors embrace periods, it adds a realness to female characters. It shows girls and women of all ages that it's all normal and okay to talk about!

    Ps. Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky trilogy has the main character dealing with her period and not really in a negative way either!

  11. I think it's the sort of thing that gets thought of like relieving oneself - of course it happens but it's not necessary to talk about in the course of the narrative (unless it is necessary). The thing is, I don't think periods are like relieving oneself. When you're a young girl there are all sorts of thoughts and questions about how to handle things and if your experience is like other people's and while it's natural it's not just commonly accepted the way other things are. It falls into the shadows, discussed only with other women and otherwise largely ignored. But I think this is a great post to highlight that sometimes novels need that level of reality - that conversation about part of life as a girl and how every now and then your life is affected by your period.

  12. I feel this is something we need to see more of in books. We see books touching on a lot of subjects recently but this is not one of them. I love how books are discussing more important things in the world, but as a woman who has 3 daughters I would love to see more discussions about periods. Young girls and women need to know it's okay to read and talk about these things. I know I want my girls and other young women learning more about their period outside of their parents and school. It's nothing they should be ashamed about, and they shouldn't feel like it's an off limits topic.

    Sarah @ Aphonic Sarah


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