Guest Writer: Bellatrix
I had my first period at age 13. I wasn’t expecting it at all even though the healthcare workers had come to our school and taught us everything (hygiene products, menstrual circle, etc.) about it. When I came home I called my mother to the bathroom. She gave me a pad and got out. She was acting like everything was normal whereas I was shocked. She told my father later even though I repeatedly told her not to tell anyone. I was so embarrassed that I stayed in our neighbor’s apartment upstairs that night. My mother shared this information with not only my father, but also her friends! I was going to find it out a few days later.
There was a strict training on how a girl should behave at our home where my father held the top position hierarchically. My father told me about the misbehaviors he despised and how I should live my life on ‘the right way’. He didn’t hesitate to embarrass me in front of people about serving tea and water to guests, the appropriate way of sitting among other people and how much laughter I was allowed to have.
Shortly after my first period my mother’s friends came over. I served them tea, but I couldn’t fit in the sugar bowl to the tray, so I was going to bring it right after the tea. My mother’s crazy friend Aunt D. asked me “Where is sugar?!” in a harsh voice. I told her to wait a second and ran to the kitchen and came back with sugar immediately. But then something much unexpected happened; Aunt D. gave me the most painful slap I had ever got in my life. Tears welled up in my eyes as I tried to figure out why she had slapped me because of sugar. What did I do wrong? I heard her laughing and saying it was my “bash of shame” and telling me to never forget it.
After I calmed down she began talking. When she had her first period in the dormitory she was staying, the cleaning lady did the same to her. It was a slap of shame to remind me not to do anything immoral and wrong. I was going to think about it whenever I thought of doing something shameful and change my mind remembering the slap. I had the first slap for being a woman on that day. I watched the trailer of all the difficulties I was going to have after that first slap. I found out how much support I could expect from my family after that slap. I saw what I would face if I wished to be myself after that slap.
I couldn’t see all these until today, during a short break of a workshop, where my friend of 10 years reminded me, after all the struggle I had in my life of nearly 25 years. I can see that all the pieces fall into place in my life, and I am now accepting the pieces that were all over the place in my relationships with my mother, my father, my boyfriend and others. I had never even thought of that slap when I held my boyfriend’s hand and experienced love with him.
That slap was the slap and voice of the society. But I always tried to resist. I believed that what I wanted and what I was going to experience was much more valuable. Yet, was it necessary to plant the idea of fear and shame in my head on the very first step of becoming a woman? Why should I despise it like a damnable thing every time I had my period? Why should I turn against my own existence instead of accepting it as the part of a miracle? Why should I feel constant fear inside, be wary of every step I take and see that my mother would not stand beside me when I take the slaps? Even though she knew I was about to get slapped right there! Isn’t she a woman herself too? Or is she more than a woman and a mother? Is she a soldier for the society?
I am one of the apparent and evident examples of the futility of these slaps. Nonetheless, it takes a lot of time for the society to perceive, accept and learn because it consists of too many people. The society has yet to understand that they cannot train individuals with slaps. But this vicious circle will keep going until the individuals realize that they can’t raise people with slaps.