Les tabous de la Menstruation (en anglais)

Un article sur les tabous de la menstruation

A lire absolument (pour celles qui lisent l'anglais) !

"A new commercial for a top-selling brand of menstrual pads in India battles traditional superstitions about menstruating women with the line “touch the pickle”. It’s a reference to the superstition that a menstruating woman can turn a batch of pickles bad just by touching it, which is apparently an act still avoided by fifty-nine-percent of urban women. While many other traditional restrictions applied to menstruating women in India have faded, the impurity of menstruation is still clung to by some.

Menstrual taboos are found in many cultures. In Judaism and Christianity, menstruation is a reminder and punishment visited upon women connected with the Original Sin myth where Eve eats something she shouldn’t have. Eastern Orthodox religions advise women not to receive communion during their periods. In Orthodox Jewish traditions women during their menstrual period are considered Niddah, and impure for almost two weeks (no matter the length of her actual menses), as is anything she sits or lays on, or any man who comes into contact with her. A woman cannot even pass any object to her husband during this period without transference of impurity. The period is ended with a ritual bath in the Mikveh. In Japan, menstruating women are banned from entering buddhist temples. Japanese women are also prohibited from visiting Shinto temples and shrines during their period, as no trace of blood, dirt, or death is permitted. In Bali women are not allowed to attend temples, and must keep their clothes apart, as well as not being allowed to enter the kitchen.

In India, traditional responses to menstruation vary widely. In Hinduism, the impurity of menstruation is related to the myth of the killing of the Brahmin demon Vritra, who stole the waters. A portion of the sin of Vritra is taken on by women, and can be passed on to a man, freeing the woman, through intercourse during menstruation. In Sikhism, the absolute equality of men and women places no negative connotations of purity on menstruation, since true purity is found in the mind and not the body. Sikh women aren’t restricted from any participation in daily life during menses, and the menstrual process is seen as god-given.

The unfortunate side of the Indian pad ad is that it sticks to the Western standard of happy menstruating women frolicking in white pants. This brings to attention the taboo against speaking about, or even acknowledging menstruation in Western society. A menstruating woman should show no outward signs of her flow. See! I can even wear my white pants! And play sports! And still, no one will know. Because god forbid that anyone even have a hint that I might be bleeding from my vagina.

This culture of secrecy surrounding menstruation, I would argue, is as damaging as cultural stigmas of impurity. In fact, they’re linked. Why should you never talk about your period? Because it’s “gross”, “no one wants to hear about that“. Especially men. And while many men have mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends, and other menstruaters intimately linked to them, they can’t bare to think of blood seeping from their neither-regions. I personally think having a cold is a lot grosser than having my period, but none of us is banned from acknowledging a runny nose. So why are we so bent on ignoring our monthly cycle (particularly the starting point of it)? And how does a culture of secrecy combat a culture of purity?



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Florence Perdriel Vaissière

Emilie Figuier

Christophe Sachs


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