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Five Slang terms I've heard for periods: Let's normalise bleeding

Friday, 18 September 2020

Tampon depicted as a melting popsicle
It's that bloody time again. Source: Erol Ahmed unsplashed

Recently, I watched the Bodyform wombstories campaign and it reminded me of how we treat periods or rather how we are taught to treat them. This isn’t a first for the brand as I remember back in 2017 when they were the first to create an advert that featured period blood. To this day I’m still shocked that it took until 2017 for periods to even feature in the advertising for the products designed to aid them. I mean how are we supposed to openly discuss period issues and having a menstrual cycle if it cannot even be shown properly on tv?

My period and me

I’ve discussed periods on the blog before in a post looking at how I can bemore sustainable with my own period and the switch to a menstrual cup but that’s all so far. Nothing beyond that, even though we should share our experiences more. Sharing our experiences is a hard thing to do though, especially when almost from a young age we are taught to be quiet about them. I remember when I was in primary school and learned about periods, all the boys were taken from the class and got to play football. Understandably I was annoyed, why did they get to go out and play but we didn’t? It was a small separation, but the start of almost teaching girls to be quiet about their period, the boys didn’t need to know even if them knowing would make it easier for us to be less awkward about what is a natural process. This was way back in 2008, and the conversation is more open now; we just need to talk more openly. Stop the awkwardness of leaving a classroom or the office to change, the whispered question of if your friend has a pad since you came on early.

I’m not too educated on the sex education curriculum, but I would be interested to see if this practise has changed. Boys should be included in the conversation of menstruation so they have some understanding of what happens beyond ill received pms punchlines in sitcoms. We shouldn’t have to feel awkward if a tampon falls out of our backpack in class because it’s perfectly normal to carry them around school. Approximately 73% of women don’t know what a vulva is, and with so much different information available, it can be overwhelming to talk openly so that these things can be learned. The discussion needs to be open between all genders about periods so that shame doesn’t need to be felt when you’re feeling crap because you’ve come on, after all how are we supposed to discuss our own experiences with each other if they’re still viewed as taboo by society?

The Slang

This is why today I’ve compiled a list of the terms I have heard used before to describe periods either as a joke or to cover the fact that period is a ‘dirty’ word. Period always seems to be something we shy away from, that it’s dirty and too much information. The ‘gross’ jokes are more accepted because they make light of the situation rather than actually engaging in the experience. Without further ado here are five terms I’ve heard being used instead of period.

1. The time of the month

Ah, an age old classic. Everyone at this point has decoded this sentence, knowing it almost always means a person is on their period. I’m not entirely sure why this is accepted since to me period also refers to a passage of time just as well but hey this was always the go to in senior school.

2. Surfing the Crimson wave

This one I’ve only heard once or twice as a joke and reference, but I’d like to thank Clueless for it. A timeless excuse to explain any lateness to a teacher, usually male, without getting a detention. Cher gets away with the explanation in the film as reason for lateness so why wouldn’t it work in real life?

3. The Red Terror

Another colour reference, yes a period does involve blood. (It’s why women are so good at removing blood stains…) I find this one to be good if you’ve had a particularly painful time, when you’re doubled over in cramps and want to die because your uterus has decided to revolt. Acceptable when you use it yourself, but I do think if any man used it as a joke because a woman has gotten annoyed I would probably want to thump them.

4. Aunt Flow

The aunt we all seem to share despite not being related, she seems to be a little needy though in that she has to visit every month. Honestly some people just make themselves welcome even when they arrive unexpectedly when a person isn’t prepared to receive them.

Honourable mentions….

I didn’t want this post to be massively long so here are a few honourable mentions I couldn’t ignore but didn’t have much to say about. In true watch mojo fashion I’m going to make you wait for the final term

·         The Blob (Flubber’s less fun friend has come to stay)
·         Shark week (Honestly sharks get such a bad press, they’re actually quite gentle creatures in a way)
·         On the rag (I don’t know why but this one I really don’t like)
·         Bloody Mary (Say her name three times and apparently she doesn’t appear in your mirror but actually in your menstrual cycle)

5.  Code Red

The dramatic alert in any disaster film and also apparently in the monthly calendar. A classic for when you’ve had a real disaster and leaked on your university bed in a room that you rent. the inventor of mattress protectors was really looking out for us. This reminds me of the 23/19 alert in Monsters inc with the sheer terror implied in it being a code red. Truly a blood bath. Baths are great when on your period in my opinion, same as the hot water bottle they soothe the cramps and just provide some much needed self-care.

There you have it, just some fun slang terms to continue the conversation of periods. We need to be more open about them to stop the awkwardness and taboo treatment. 

What are some of the names you’ve heard periods be called before?

Phone wallpaper created by me

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