Volume 10, Issue 5
Firstly, I would like to clarify that not all women have periods, and not all people who have periods are women, and my choice to write about this topic in this week’s issue of De Minimis is not meant to imply otherwise. That being said, periods are probably affecting half the law school at various times of the month, and this needs to be addressed. Periods, period pain and the fact that your body is biologically set up to be a baby incubator at some point is, for most women, a depressing fact of life. Looking back to our teenage years, perhaps we were a bit excited at first to begin the menarche, but after a very short time the reaction turns into: “Is it really like this forever? Am I just supposed to carry on with life while this shit is going on?”
That is what we learnt to do. Keep calm and carry on, because nobody is going to let you slack off just because something totally normal and natural is happening to you. You can take reasonable steps to improve the situation. But even if you do take the contraceptive pill, chow down on every single pain killer you are allowed to mix together, exercise and take magnesium you still might feel like you are being kicked in the gut, experience throbbing headaches, bleed like a Russian princess (ruining your nice underwear and white bed sheets) and feel like crying, just because.
Despite experiencing this for at least two days out of the month, there is no rest allowed in our schedule. If every person were experiencing this we’d surely get more support.
Medical science hasn’t shown much interest in solving the problem that plagues this significant portion of the population demographic. Ten percent of them will be suffering from endometriosis, a condition that makes every symptom of menstruation worse and for which there is no known cure. Until the day medical science decides to put in a serious effort to eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms of periods we should be allowed, if we want, to get a day or two of rest. A day to lie in bed with a hot water bottle, not sit in class trying desperately enough to pay attention to remedies while our uterus distracts us from the dull pain with a stabbing one.
At a minimum, we need to record lectures for people who skip class because of period pain. It would also improve things immensely if we dispensed with the charade of periods as taboo and not to be spoken of in polite conversation. People should feel comfortable to bring their wheat heat pack to class and microwave it in the break. We don’t have a women’s room, so the LSS could have pads and tampons on hand in case of emergency. People should be made to feel they do not have to dress up to university just because they are doing law. Go ahead and wear those comfy baggy “period pants” that don’t squeeze your mid-section. Let’s make it normal to have a vent with your peers about how you’re struggling a bit today.
Our society in general and law school in particular is so focused on productivity and excellence. We need to value ourselves and others intrinsically, even if their body is making them not so productive right now. You personally might be perfectly functional on your period. But the pressure on us collectively to soldier on because this is just “how life is” is not helpful.
If we view this as something we should just ignore to be productive we are ignoring the big picture. People who go through a lifetime of painful menstruation may at some point literally produce a life with their body. We have paid maternity leave for people because, like it or not, they are experiencing their reproductive system not caring what they wanted their body to feel like or do right now.
Having your period is a horrible, weird annoying teaser of that every month. So give us some bloody slack.
Katy Hampson is a third-year JD student
The rest of this week's issue: