A friend had been walking around the CBD and accidentally soiled herself. She had been attacked by the Red Army!... Aunt Irma had dropped in for a sudden visit!... Ladies, feel free to insert your own euphemism to describe that most colourful period of your menstrual cycle.
So there was my friend, a mother of two, walking around Nairobi’s Central Business District in a beige skirt with the world witnessing her menstrual cycle take toll on the fabric.
And what embarrassed her the most was that it was a man who pointed it out to her.
As young girls we were told that we need to be careful, clean and secretive now that we were becoming women with Aunt Irma’s frequent visits.
During primary school, I tucked pads under my cardigan when I needed to go and change, because no one was meant to know that I was on my period.
A gentleman friend told me about the time his girlfriend sat on his lap during a concert. When it was over two hours later, he saw both of their pants had been soiled. I asked him if he was embarrassed or disgusted in any way. No, he wasn’t…
I have also spoken to married women who recall the horror of soiling their sheets. But their spouses bore this great shame with mere nonchalance…
Men don’t seem fazed by it. They seem to get that it happens. It’s just an accident, after all.
But as women, we act like it’s the end of the world and it’s shameful for Mother Nature to reveal the inner workings of our reproductive systems to the world.
Why is this such a big deal then for women? I am not saying we shouldn’t be diligently hygienic when we are on our periods. But at the same time, we shouldn’t beat the living daylights out of ourselves just because Aunt Irma failed to honk the horn to let us know she would be visiting earlier than expected.