Happy to Bleed is a slogan I came across today, originated from India as a way to challenge deep-rooted myths about women.
Sabarimala temple in Kerala is a famous Indian temple where women of reproductive age are not allowed to enter just because they might be on their period. The only way to preserve purity of the temple and the worshipers is the outright ban of women entering the temple. Hmnnn
The head of the temple Prayar Gopalakrihnan thought women can only be allowed to enter the temple if there is a machine to confirm their purity.
“These days there are machines that can scan bodies and check for weapons. There will be a day when a machine is invented to scan if it is the ‘right time’ for a woman to enter the temple. When that machine is invented, we will talk about letting women inside,” Prayar Gopalakrishnan
Kudos to the Indian women who decorated the internet with their colourful reactions to the misogyny.
Now that is what I called Feminism.
It is part of the same bigger problem.
Coming home to Nigeria. While from my part of the country women are not explicitly prevented to enter church or mosque when on period, similar attitude of shame, unclean is still attached to menstruation, hence it is a topic we seldom talk about in public even though half of the population is affected.
See the pattern – the more patriarchal a nation is, the less sensitive they tend to be to environmental sanitation and personal hygiene. No surprises there.
Take for example in Nigeria where the need to improve on public toilet facilities and environmental sanitation stare in our faces. To be clear, I see Nigeria from the perspective of the majority, issues affecting most of the citizens demand attention.
When we talk about lack of toilet in public places, focus is usually on faces and urine but the one that mostly affect women is left out because it is considered to be dirty topic not meant to be discussed openly. This is the same reason some public places with toilet facilities would not even think of the need for sanitary disposal.
An interesting article from 2012 by UNICEF Nigeria is very revealing of our attitude.
“The modified latrines for adolescent girls have been provided in 150 schools across the country.”
Reading this article poses more questions: Why do we need to have special toilets for adolescent girls in schools just because they are on their period? What happens to having only gender based toilet? And only 150 across the country? Oh well, at least they recognise the need for toilets serve other purposes than piss and shit.
Hard to see any reasoning in some of the decisions our government end up wasting money on. Schools should be a place where one goes to be enlightened but to further teach girls they must use separate toilet from their mates (girls) while on period is just awkward.
Being a Nigeria feminist should also be about demanding for simple luxury of life – permission to bleed with dignity. Workplace, religious places, schools etc to have facilities that can afford everyone a bit of privacy to tend to the most natural thing that affects half of the population.
Once again, thumb up for the initiator and the supporters of #HappytoBleed