Engaging Men in the Conversation on Periods
Destigmatizing periods isn’t all on women! Men and people who don’t menstruate can, and should, be a part of this work as well. We all play a part in upholding the stigmas associated with menstruation, so fighting those stigmas requires everyone.
Destigmatizing periods can come in many different forms, but a good place to start would be to have more open conversations about periods. If that sounds daunting, start with friends, family, and loved ones before talking to others. Here are a few pointers:
- Try to incorporate terms and phrases that lend a positive connotation and help instill the idea that menstruation is normal… because it is!
- Try to keep the tone casual, because the goal is to have these conversations normally without heads swiveling in horror or dramatic gasps.
- And lastly, avoid euphemisms, or other phrases that insinuate that periods are shameful. Using “aunt flow,” “shark week,” or “that time of the month,” allows people to skirt around the word “period,” and makes it seem like periods should be hidden.
Another good starting point is to allow for open dialogue with people who menstruate in your life. Again, starting with family members or loved ones is an easy way to practice creating these spaces. Women, girls, and people with the potential to menstruate have so many stories and experiences to share about their periods, and sadly, many of them can be unpleasant. Listen to those stories and ask questions to better understand those experiences. And use those stories to recognize why this work is so critical.
Creating open, safe spaces for people in your life to talk to you about their periods can take time, but your loved ones will be so appreciative of the support and allyship. Using validating and period-positive language is critical to ensure it is a truly safe space. And it’s even better to be proactive about these spaces! Instead of waiting for your friends and family to approach you, start these conversations with them. If you’re a parent or caregiver, don’t wait for your child’s first period to broach the topic. Offer to run to the store to pick up more period products. These little steps show your child and your family that periods aren’t a taboo topic in the household and they can feel comfortable approaching you with their stories and questions.
There are lots of ways in which men and people who don’t menstruate can get involved in the conversation on periods. This shouldn’t feel like intimidating work, and hopefully these tips help ease you into the period positive movement. Real change cannot come without everyone’s involvement, and I know that the people who menstruate in your life will be grateful for your willingness to be a part of the change.
BDC 2022 featured a panel of incredible girl dads who worked together to come up with some tips on how to get involved in the conversation on periods. I hope you find their tips useful and can use some in your daily life: https://www.canva.com/design/DAFuRXLdVcA/nUa7zbNqycZK9hA8YVxayg/view?utm_content=DAFuRXLdVcA&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=publishsharelink