Female Empowerment, Menstrual Cycle

Women*s’ Rights as Workers’ Rights

The average person (although, who or what ‘average’ really means is an entire debate of its own…) doesn’t know very much about the menstrual cycle.

This shortcoming leads to a host of problems, including (but not limited to):

– the silence of women* so everpresent in our patriarchical societies
– the instrumentalisation of women’s bodies (e.g. as tools for opression)
– a distancing of women* from their own bodies
– ignorance towards the potential power and special needs connected to a woman*s cyclically changing hormone levels

{I’m sure there are tons of other issues I am forgetting/omitting right now. Are you thinking of any that you would like to see listed here? Let me know!}

All of these issues are, of course, highly interdependent. The perspective I’d like to focus on today: women*s’ rights as workers’ rights.

Over the course of one menstrual cycle, the hormonal fluctuations lead to directly noticeable changes in energy-levels, activity and power. To be fair, every woman*’s hormonal make-up is sightly different and the widespread use of hormonal contraceptives heavily messes with the system. Nonetheless, it remains a fact that the fluctuation of hormone levels during the different phases of the menstrual cycle lead to differences in energy and productivity.

Imagine a world in which you would be able to say to your employer: “My energy levels are lower right now because I’m in phase XY of my period; I will take things a bit more slowly during the following days and use this time to contemplate and plan on the coming weeks.” What a beautiful world that would be!

Right now, not only does it seem impossible for women* to make such a statement; most of us have such little knowledge of our own cycle and limited bodily awareness, that we berate ourselves on a regular basis (of course! the cycle recurs every month!) for working too little/not being productive enough or too tired/to irritated… you name it.

The latter raises an interesting point: the irritability that can accompany certain stages of a woman*’s cycle, seems to be the only part about menstruation that is ever mentioned publicly instead of staying shrouded in a cloud of confusion and taboo. It is common practice to belittle women* who are openly voicing their opinion (or being critical of accepted norms, or even being more emotional than is societally accepted at that particular point in time) by saying something along the lines of “Are you on your period, or why are you making such a fuss?!” Such a statement is equivalent with disallowing any validity or credibility of the feelings or statements voiced. Ironically, the exact same sentence “Are you on your period”, stated as a sincere question, could start a revolution!

Are you on your period? could mean:

>> I am aware that you may need a bit more time, a bit more sleep and/or a bit more support and understanding, right now. I am aware that you might be in pain [Menstrual Knowledge: About half of women* experience menstrual cramps, and about 15% describe the pain as severe]. I respect that you need to concentrate on taking care of yourself more, at the moment, instead of taking care of others (or producing goods or knowledge).

In turn, this awareness of the different stages of the menstrual cycle also means, that the beautiful bursts of power and energy and creativity that make up about half of the cycle can be more appreciated and harnessed!

On this note, I would like to empower you to deepen your knowledge of the menstrual cycle and train your awareness of it – regardless of the gender you identify as. I’ve put together some resources for you to explore and I will continue to update you on my own ongoing journey of discovery on this blog. I’d be happy to hear your experience, if you’d like to share!

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