Knowledge Of Our Bodies Means Female Empowerment

By Amanda Nilo

I recently saw an infuriating post on Twitter that said there is no reason to use birth control other than to sleep around without worrying about pregnancy. Let’s ignore the fact that a woman being responsible about preventing pregnancy is nothing to be ashamed of and talk about why men seem to understand so little about women’s bodies.  

Girls are taught so young to be ashamed of it, to not talk about their periods especially. But boys are taught not to pay attention to it at all. I know too many friends who have boyfriends who don’t understand or want to hear about their periods. Too many stories in the news of men thinking women can shut things down with the power of her mind when that is not how anything works.  

My own father once purchased me Depends instead of Always.

I am so curious about people; it seems unimaginable to me that a world so obsessed with women’s bodies doesn’t bother to learn a thing about it. The internet is everywhere now! I don’t know how I could have survived my teen years without it, and I was Asking Jeeves all the questions in the middle of my living room when my family wasn’t around.  When a shy girl in my PE class was concerned about the clear discharge in her underwear, I was happy to tell her it was natural and it happens to most of us.

But even though I don’t think there’s ever been a  boy friend or Boyfriend in my life that hasn’t had to hear about the torture of my menstrual cramps, I still have those little moments of shame. Sometimes, in the bathroom on a small film set, a little voice says “You’re the only woman here; they’ll all know you’re on your period.”  And then I remember that it doesn’t matter and it isn’t anything to be embarrassed about.

But still, I work a job that doesn’t always allow me to have a lot of time to take a break when I’m having the usual heavy day, one where I can’t call out sick when I wake up with cramping that makes standing difficult. So, I have put myself through the not very fun hormone adjustment period of birth control to manage the disruption of my daily life. It has recently cost me 82 days of heavy bleeding, heightened emotional responses (I’m so sorry, you know who you are) and intense cramping over 3 months on the Liletta IUD. That’s my choice. But some women just want to have sex responsibly. And some women have greater medical reasons. It’s not for you to judge.

The only way things will ever get better is if we are more open. We need to stop treating our bodies like an embarrassment and normalize our struggles and strengths. We have information at our fingertips but we also have women in our lives. Have conversations. Be curious about each other. Ask.