Fuck me please, I'm bleeding
BY ALEY BUXTON
*Before jumping into the nitty gritty of period sex, a little disclaimer. This article is written from my straight, white, cis-centric perspectives on heteronormative sexual relationships. So, apologies in advance for the heavily gendered nature of this
Periods! Beautiful, natural, inconvenient, taxed, excuse, disgusting, private, expensive, taxed, dirty, smelly, taxed… so many words for a bodily function. This natural process is associated so heavily as taboo, it’s no wonder when someone asks a woman what’s wrong when she grimaces in pain her voice drops 50 decibels just to say, ‘I’m on my period’.
The fact that this monthly occurrence happens in close to half of the global population but is continually not addressed astounds me. Consistently there are cases that are overlooked as dramatic; of women who have had cysts burst due to polycystic ovarian syndrome and have been told to ‘go home and take some Panadol’ or undiagnosed endometriosis patients being told it’s ‘just cramps’. Even when period pain is compared to heart attack pain, and HUNDREDS of women agree, it’s debunked! It can’t be true, women are being dramatic! Was this doctor a man or a woman? Lies!
Period stigmatisation is universal, however, stigmas among the internet community are slowly being broken down with more education accessible. Thus, from my observations, more men seem to be becoming more open minded in accepting that yes, this happens, and we can speak about it (yas love that male approval). But despite the amazing work to normalize periods, myself and every menstruating person I know continues to experience horror when a tampon slides out of their bag or do the awkward ‘hide the pad or tampon in the bra’ before heading to the bathroom.
Since there is already so much shush around menstruation in general, heaven forbid we mix sex and periods together. I for one couldn’t care a less about having sex on my period and I have a partner who agrees. So many studies have shown the positives of period sex.
Women are often more aroused when they are menstruating, and studies have shown that sex reduces period pain. Other benefits include more lubrication and, in some cases, decreasing the length of the period. But instead, and don’t lie to yourself, a majority of early and uneducated thoughts on period sex are ‘ew gross’ or ‘it can’t happen’. With a sexual education system that only teaches heteronormative sex and preaches abstinence, why would we learn that sex while menstruating is an option?
I remember watching a Frenchie video (he’s an internet comedian?) on Facebook a few months ago. The whole premise of the skit is a guy coming out of his room with tomato sauce plastered all over his face saying he brought a girl home from the club last night and she tasted really metallic, but she was ‘CRAZY’ in the sheets. All the while his mates laugh at the blob of Heinz sauce slathered across his mouth. I failed to see the comedic value of this kind. The hilarity of engaging in period sex just doesn’t seem to reach me. Similarly, while cruising through my Newsfeed, I was unlucky enough to see a meme that outlined the following; ‘girlfriend on her period means blow job week!’. Hell, even in the Urban Dictionary, Blow Job Week is defined as:
The week when a girl is having her period, thus she is unable to perform vaginal sex.
First of all, I’m not unable? It’s a different coloured lubricant, it’s just as gross and natural as what my vagina produces every other day. My vagina hasn’t disappeared? She’s still there.
If we aren’t already lucky with that fabulous explanation of the vagina closing up shopbecause it doesn’t function for male pleasure, the example in a sentence is;
"Jen is acting pretty bitchy cuz it's blowjob week... but it's okay cuz it's blowjob week!"
Not outraged enough by the derogatory language? Scroll down the page a little more and you’ll find an added opinion saying, ‘women who abide by this are keepers ;)’. If the gross winky face at the end there doesn’t make you want to get lock jaw, I honestly don’t know what does?
So, from all different angles periods are gross and period sex is funny, or it’s considered the perfect time for a man to cop a gobby. All of these surround male assumptions which degrade the female experience. Period sex isn’t a bad thing. It never has been. Unless it’s a cultural practice or the female party is in pain, the main inhibitor for intercourse is mess and social conditioning. Of these two, one is an easy fix. A towel, or a shower or even just avoiding coitus when it’s a particularly heavy day.
My curiosity on what women experienced and thought of period sex motivated me to get some statistical data. In a small survey on a girl’s advice Facebook page, I asked the question ‘Are you and your partner willing to have sex when you are on your period?’ was proposed, along with four options;
- Yes, we are both fine with it, even when it is heavy
- Yes, we are both fine with it, but only when it isn’t heavy
- Absolutely not – I don’t like it, it’s gross
- I would, but my partner is not
Out of 176 respondents, 41% indicated they would have sex when it wasn’t heavy, 27% stated they would at any time, 26% said they would not and 6% indicated their partner was the unwilling one. So according to these statistics, hetero couples are engaging in period sex both heavy and light 68% of the time! These statistics, however wonderful they are, are not the truest sample of the population, with majority of respondents aged between 16-27, cis and from Australia, more conservative views are missing. In a larger study done by Flex – a company which makes products to decrease mess during menstrual sex – 55% of couples would have sex during periods. Most were millennials. The other 45% who avoided period sex were more commonly aged between 40-49, straight and Christian.
What was shocking to me about my small study was the amount who said they found it disgusting. 26% were against the idea. There could be many factors pushing toward this. In Japanese culture, Judaism and Hinduism women are considered ‘unclean’ during their ladies days. Similarly, Christian education perpetuates the same connotations of impurity during ‘that time of the month’ so, it’s no wonder that such a large percentage of young women think it’s freaking gross. I respect this decision to not engage, but strongly believe that a majority would not have such negative perspectives on their periods and sex if we weren’t fed dated cultural ideals through advertising and modern media that it’s yucky.
The first advertisement that featured a drop of red on a pad to show absorbency was in 2010!? That’s not that long ago. And when you think about it, most ads use blue to demonstrate how absorbent a product is. Why are we are so afraid of using the colour red?! Let’s be real here, periods are not blue. I want to know how well this product is going to absorb my crimson wave not how aesthetically pleasing blue food dye looks on a maxi pad.
Before university, and before I first engaged with our great feminist movement, sex and periods were two things that did not subsist in the same place for me. Periods were secret. With shitty Libra facts on the back of the pad and some Cadbury chocolate. Sex existed elsewhere. But the coexistence of the two has been liberating for me as has the support ofmy partner. The fact that I’m not viewed as gross or any less, but as the same gal he likes to sleep with for the rest of the month does wonders for the self-confidence – not that validation from a male is all I need to feel snazzy, but it’s wonderful to have a sexual partner who is comfortable enough to help you deconstruct a stigma of shame that has defined a lot of your adolescence.
If we spoke about periods differently from a young age, would this change stigmas on period sex? Maybe. Would all heteronormative couples have sex at this time? Probably not. There will always be cultural taboos surrounding periods. Unfortunately, cultural and religious norms will always dictate this. But don’t let that hold you back! Talk to your partner! Make that decision together that it’s normal and it’s ok to enjoy yourself when you’re menstruating. Grab a shitty towel or practice some shower sex moves and get to it!