[Blog version of this episode is below the show notes]
We’re expected to function like capitalist robots in our culture, but we don’t power on and off the same way every single day. Period underwear, tampon taxes, menstrual leave, and more — this episode offers a look at the state of menstrual health in the US, the violent roots of gynecological care, where we’ve made progress, and where we could definitely see some improvements. ‘
**Note: In this episode I mention 700K covid deaths — I misspoke! As of this recording, we are closer to 600K deaths in the US.
This episode is supported by my FREE WORKSHOP: The Patriarchy vs. Your Body, happening on May 19th. If you can’t make it live, RSVP anyway to get the replay emailed to you.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Private coaching with Kristen
- Dr. Jen Gunter: Exploring potential mechanisms of the COVID-19 vaccine and menstrual irregularities
- Episode 1: Menstrual Cycles & The Moon
- Racial bias in pain assessment and treatment recommendations, and false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites
- The First Birth Control Pill Used Puerto Rican Women as Guinea Pigs
- “Women are more often dismissed as ’emotional, psychogenic, hysterical, oversensitive.'” (PDF)
- Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenbery
- Employers and menstrual accommodations
- Zomato announces period leave for employees
- Menstrual cup quiz — find your perfect fit
- Distributing Dignity
- Code Red
- $10 off your purchase at Thinx
You contain multitudes. And there’s so much to be explored that has been hidden from you! I know it was for me, until I got super curious about my body.
I’ve explained before how those who menstruate have very different hormonal cycles from those who don’t, and our current society is set up to favor how the latter’s bodies function.
Quick recap: men’s (or assigned male at birth) hormones cycle over the course of 24 hours, whereas those assigned female at birth have a more delicate, longer-lasting cycle that fluctuates over an average of 28 days.
This means our energy, mood, digestion, immunity, creativity, and more ebb and flow over that time along with our hormones.
But capitalism has prioritized the 24-hour cycle. The endlessly repeatable and predictable cycle that places productivity above all else and better serves the men who created it.
Our bodies don’t work that way, though. We’re working so hard to maintain this level of efficiency, managing our professional lives on top of the emotional labor that comes with managing our personal lives. Because we’re so tired at the end of the day from all of this, we don’t realize that there’s a whole other way to live.
You don’t have to treat your body like a machine.
You don’t power on and off the same way every single day. Deep down, you know this, but you haven’t had time to do anything about it because *looks at the clock* it’s time to go back to work again.
‘I don’t want to take time out of my life to manage what I didn’t ask for.’
That’s what someone told me recently about managing their cycle. I totally get it, because it feels like another frustrating thing you have to deal with.
Period products are expensive. Your energy is depleted. Your symptoms can be debilitating, but you have to get up and participate in the 24-hour cycle if you want to play the game.
It’s the monthly “curse” we were all warned about when we were young.
(I looked up the definition of curse recently and it actually said “menstruation.” No wonder it’s ingrained in us.)
My friend, if only you knew your own power.
What the patriarchy doesn’t want you to know
Here’s where we are in terms of menstrual and reproductive health:
- Period products are expensive and inaccessible to many. They are also subject to a luxury tax in some states, known as the tampon tax, which is placed on items deemed non-essential (?!?). Homeless menstruators resort to using dirty paper bags, socks, or other unsanitary items to contain blood throughout the day.
- 42% of working women say their period pain affects their ability to do their job, and 82% say their employer makes no accommodation for them.
- There is little research on menstrual health in the transgender population (which is why you’ll see binary terms when I’m sharing research).
- It can take several years and several doctors for a woman complaining of pelvic or menstrual pain to receive a diagnosis. Upwards of 10 years for those with endometriosis. Why? See the next point.
- Women are more often dismissed as “emotional, psychogenic, hysterical, oversensitive” and not properly evaluated. It’s all in your head, right?
- Most people who menstruate have experienced PMS symptoms and have accepted them as part of life.
That last one is from an unofficial study — my own. I reviewed all of my client records from the last three and a half years and nearly all experienced issues associated with their menstrual cycle.
Painful cramps, heavy blood flow, mood swings, low energy, fatigue and sluggishness, cravings, skin issues, bloating, poor sleep, issues transitioning off birth control, endometriosis, PCOS, etc.
And guess what? ALL of those clients came to me for other reasons. The PMS symptoms were just an afterthought because they thought those things were supposed to happen. It wasn’t until I taught them about their cycle and hormone balance that they realized that weren’t destined to suffer every month.
I’ve also spoken with numerous menstruators in my research recently that have said the same — “I’ve just accepted it and have to plan around it.”
The patriarchy vs. your body
Is that you? Have you resigned to the fact that your body is waging war with you every month? Did you know that it doesn’t actually have to be that way?
This is a major systemic issue in health care. The problem goes upstream to the medical community, who learn from the educational institutions, whose curriculums are informed by the scientific authorities. And who’s ultimately responsible for what gets studied and how? The patriarchy.
There are a lot of ways that the patriarchy infiltrates your daily life, much have it having to do with keeping you small, in pain, and too busy to notice that you can do something about it. Keeping you out of commission for one week of every month, 12 weeks a year — that’s a whole quarter of the year!
You go through over 400 cycles in your lifetime, how many more are you willing to let the system control?
Discovering your superpowers
The fact is that patriarchal standards of living deeply affect our health and our hormones. Remember that secret I said was hidden from you?
It’s been inside you all along. Surprise! You were born with the ability to smash the patriarchy and live an empowered life.
Right now, you are a round peg trying to fit into a square hole, day after day, not realizing that forcing yourself into the 24-hour standard (and ignoring your own cyclical flow) puts you further away from the connection to your own body, and further from your own power.
You can take it back, my friend. Because yes, despite what you might feel about it right now, your cycle IS your superpower.
I’m teaching a free class on exactly how you can do this, because you have so much more life to experience, and you deserve to put your energy on things that bring you joy and fulfillment rather than shame and frustration.
In The Patriarchy vs. Your Body, we’ll talk about:
- How our health and hormones are impacted by the patriarchy
- The lack of education women receive about their bodies
- The surprising (and infuriating) facts about research in women’s health
- Why diet culture and emotional eating are feminist issues
- The importance of body literacy in being an advocate for your health
- How you can break free from patriarchal standards of living, learn to live cyclically, and be empowered to take care of your body in a way that serves YOUR unique needs
It’s happening May 19th at 6pm EST. You’ll get the most out of this workshop if you attend live, but if it doesn’t work with your schedule, no biggie. I’ll make sure you get a replay to watch when you get a chance.