I was 11 when I first began menstruating and even at that age, I didn’t yell for my father from the washroom when I saw the first stains of blood on my underpants. It was my mother who I summoned. Stigma around periods stays comfortably wrapped in the blanket of shame. Most girls hitting puberty are taught about menstruation in the dungeons of secrecy.
Thanks to a campaign by Plan International, a girls-focused development charity, a period emoji is being introduced which is all set to release in March 2019. A drop of blood will be used to symbolise periods in the latest addition to Unicode Standard’s existing batch of nearly three thousand emojis. The campaign had initially hoped to secure an emoji featuring a pair of pants with two blood drops on it, but at least one drop of blood is going to be a step towards acknowledging the existence of periods in our conversations.
We are thrilled to announce that we are actually getting a #PeriodEmoji!
— PlanInternational UK (@PlanUK) February 6, 2019
Plan International recently commissioned a research to ask 2,000 women aged 18 to 34 how they discuss their periods. Their findings have helped raise the war cry for battling the stigma around menstruation. So, we decided to take a look at 5 instances where the period emoji could be useful:
1. When you want your First Day of Period Leave and don’t know how to verbalise it to your boss.
In the research conducted by Plan International, seven out of 10 said they felt uncomfortable about talking about their period with their male colleagues and only one in three women felt happy to speak about it to their female bosses. Imagine cooking up a new excuse every month to cover for your monthly visitor?
2. When you want to just stay in bed because there is a war of cramps raging within and you just can’t socialise
It is not like we use cramps as an excuse. Sometimes you should be able to say no to peer pressure and realise that there is no need to justify it. We just have to live with the fact that a uterus works in mysterious ways.
3. When you want to have that discussion about periods with someone (READ: MAN) who evades all topics around a woman’s vagina unless it is being sexualised.
The same report also found that at school almost half the students reported feeling ashamed to speak to their female teachers and 75% of them said they wouldn’t discuss it with their male teachers. The idea that periods is a topic only to be discussed in the confines of the ‘girls-only club’ is drilled into our heads. Once onboard, the shaming ship requires special skills to be acquired to retain membership. From passing a note in class asking for a spare sanitary napkin to becoming a ninja to safeguard it until one made a beeline for the loo, the list is pretty tedious. Skipping school, sitting out of organised sports activities are just a few of the compromises young girls choose to make because of the taboo surrounding periods.
4. When you want to challenge someone (READ: MEN & WOMEN) who is typecasting your opinion/anger/hatred/emotional outburst for something as ‘hysteria’ during ‘that time of the month’ (because women only rage when they are on their periods, right?).
So if a Donald Trump has the right to diss you in a debate by saying, “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” and then backtracks it with a “I was going to say ears and nose,” do not allow it. Women have for the longest time suffered under the sexist etymology of the word ‘hysteria’, do not apologise for it anymore. Time’s up!
5. When you feel moody and just want to fight eons of patriarchy.
Period stains, for instance, are a source of guilt. Though you ease into your monthly cycle with time, you end up carrying the excess baggage of mortification and embarrassment that each girl/woman must lug around all her life.
Surprisingly we continue to live in a world where so many girls don’t even have access to sanitary napkins or who avoid using napkins because of the superstitions or stigma attached to them.
March 2019 will also see a new range emojis from gender non-specific couples to more diverse representations of varied races around the globe. To think that Unicode Standard has 2823 emojis, ranging from poop to a pregnant woman, it is only fair to expect one talking representing periods. Here is hoping that this emoji can help normalise the conversation around periods.