Becky says things about … men and menstruation


Have no fear, marvellous and trusting Listener: I am not going to go all feminist on you, or start flinging tampons around or smearing menstrual blood up the side of public buildings. I am merely going to make some keen observations on the age-old topic that never ceases to amuse and perplex me: the curious relationship between men and the monthlies.

 I was quietly groaning at my desk last week, due to the fact that (WARNING TO MALE LISTENERS: IMMINENT MENSTRUAL SIMILE) my pelvis, abdomen and stomach felt like they were being stapled to a piece of rusty metal and ground with the heel of an industrial boot. My male colleague asked me what was wrong. Too weak to come up with a male-friendly reason for my whimpering, I muttered ‘Time of the month’.

 ‘Urgh, urgh,’ he exclaimed, gabbled something about ‘not needing to know anything about that yucky nastiness’, turned a shade of red deeper than the blobs of womb lining oozing into my knickers at that very moment, and with supersonic speed he changed the subject to a sudden crucial work-related topic – but, really, he may as well have done this: 


Such was the severity of his terror and revulsion at this natural female process; a female process which, I’m led to believe by the experts, is a fairly common phenomenon, namely endured by 50% of the world’s population, including all the women that are presumably of sentimental value to my colleague, and literally every single woman to ever pass within a 4,000 mile radius of him. It could be said that he is positively swamped by menstruation. In fact, if it weren’t for the miracle of clothing, he could, at any one point, be surrounded by this:


Despite the prevalence of menstruation in our world, his reaction is not uncommon amongst menfolk, and is one of, I believe, four types of male reactions to this most foul of female ‘habits’. 

The first reaction is the above: those dudes who consider a menstruating woman to be dirty, monstrous, and plagued by a potent infection that can be passed to the men if they stand too close.


These men will back away in horror at any mention of a mere womb twitch. They cannot hide their disgust. Their wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters, sisters, all become objects of evil who are part of a witches’ coven, a heinous, putrid sorority that get together once a month and relish in their nefarious power to endlessly bleed. These men know that we women have this revolting habit once a month, but they cannot fathom why we don’t just stop it. It is these men who will stick together and take solace in their own razor-sharp wit by saying hilarious things like ‘Never trust something that bleeds for a week and doesn’t die.

 Unfortunately, it is these men who will receive the following reaction if that joke is made in the presence of a menstruating woman:


(NB to the ladies: never trust something that is stupid enough to make a joke about not trusting something that bleeds for a week and doesn’t die within earshot of a woman who has been bleeding for a week and hasn’t died.)

 The second male reaction to menstruation is mortification. These guys would rather walk around in a t-shirt that says ‘MY PENIS LOOKS LIKE A TWIG’ than be anywhere near a period conversation. Say the word ‘tampon’ at them and they will react as though you have just pulled down your knickers, pointed at your vagina, and said ‘Pull this.’


These men know that something happens to us once a month, but it is so secret and so intrinsically female and it involves two concepts coming together in a marriage they can neither accept, comprehend, nor bring themselves to contemplate: vaginas (which they like) and blood (which they don’t). The whole notion of it will send them trembling into a corner where they will stand, facing the wall, until they can think about something else.


The third masculine reaction is to simply pretend that periods don’t exist. An innocent ‘It’s that time of the month’ comment to one of these men results in a ‘We don’t need to talk about that,’ and a seamless continuation of the previous conversation. It doesn’t matter how obviously they are faced with the truth: these men will simply ignore the very existence of menstruation.


Despite the fact that pretending menstruation doesn’t happen is essentially defying the existence of the human race, these guys are adamant. It’s hard to gage their thoughts on the subject, because how can you talk about something that doesn’t exist? They are therefore best left to their own world, in which the only thing that goes on in a woman’s lower regions is the men’s own penises – and, occasionally a butterfly lands on our pelvis and fairies dance on our stomachs.


The fourth reaction is a fairly rare one: those men that are actually okay with the whole thing. These heroes put the men in menstruation. A woman will never fail to be delighted to find one. Believe it or not, gents, it’s actually a very attractive quality. I’m not saying it’s a total selling point, but it certainly helps.


It is strangely refreshing and rather enjoyable to talk to these men about periods. They are so laid back about it that when we moan dramatically about the fact our wombs feel like they are going to slip through our vaginas like a rotting jellyfish, they say, without batting an eyelid, ‘Oh dear, that sounds painful. Do you want a paracetamol?’ Or, sometimes, they are actually interested. I once spent a heated ten minutes trying to convince a male chum that we girls don’t feel tampons once they’re firmly wedged where they should be wedged. He simply refused to believe it. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘if I shoved a piece of compressed cotton wool up my bum, I’d know about it.’ I gently pointed out that we do not insert tampons up our bottoms. ‘Well I wouldn’t stick it up my penis, would I?’ he replied irately. The logic and success of the conversation was rather lacking, but nevertheless, this was a bloke who was able to discuss menstruation and the mechanisms thereof without crying or vomiting, and it was rather nice.

Of course, the world of menstruation isn’t necessarily one that men need to know about, and, to be fair to them, when we’re crying at dog food adverts and complaining about haemorrhaging into our knickers, it must seem like a pretty freakish world. But some men take this ‘need to know’ basis to an extreme level. I once had to correct a male pal who, it transpired, thought that tampons came in different sizes in order to cater for different sized vaginas. I pointed out that, if this was the case, it would be rather difficult to market the ‘Super Plus’ range.


 Oh men, believe me, I can hear you shouting: ‘Stop having a go at us! Why do you women insist on TALKING about it????’

Put it like this. Imagine if every single month your testicles started shedding their skin, and turned into two weeping, excruciating, bleeding sacks of doom. That sort of situation, no matter how regular or expected its frequency, is pretty traumatic. You want to get the trauma off your chest, you want to talk to someone who understands. So you talk to your mate, whose testicles do exactly the same thing every month.


Fortunately for you chaps, that doesn’t happen to you. But we women share this common ground, we like to know our friends suffer the same level of agony. It is such a foul, undignified process, that really the only way to get over it is to talk about it. And no, we have no qualms about going into detail, because when you’ve woken up on a Monday morning in this state:


– you have literally no shame left.

Boys, don’t be afraid. We are neither foul, monstrous, nor infected with a putrescent disease. We are merely women. You like us. We like you. Let’s be friends! We can coexist in a world in which we have to deal with a major organ regenerating itself once a month and paying hundreds of pound to mop up the consequences, and you don’t.

But if you ever utter the phrase ‘It’s because she’s on the blob’ or ‘She’s got that filthy habit again’, we’ll cut your balls off.