The Internet is awesome. Really, it is. I learn new things about life and living every day because of the Internet. Yesterday, like most of India, I learnt what the word 'farrago' means. The Internet is the best.
But here's one thing I don't want to learn about any more. Menstruation. I don't want any more 'facts' about menstruation. I don't. Every once in a while, I find myself surfing my Facebook timeline and stumbling upon an article or a talk that everyone's going nuts about.
OMG! Did you know the REAL reason why menstruating women are not allowed into temples? Did you know the SCIENTIFIC reason behind making women sleep on the floor or outside the house when they are on their period? Did you know menstruating women were treated badly for their OWN GOOD?!
I've spent hours on these discussions trying to tell people that yes, I do know why women are treated like dirty, unholy, offensive creatures when they are on their period. The answer we're looking for is 'patriarchy'. But that's not an answer people are willing to take because it sounds so "modern". Not to mention, feminist (the brahmastra that destroys Indian families).
Surely, our ancestors who poured lead into the ears of Dalits for listening to the Vedas and forced women to jump into their husband's pyre, must have a wonderfully humane answer to this. There's no place in the world more sanskriti than us and there MUST have been a great reason behind this discrimination.
And even if we've forgotten what this great reason is, we must continue to practice this discrimination because...Indian culture.
But, I've tried to tell the arguers, these restrictions are there in several cultures. Not just in India. Because you know what else exists in several cultures? Patriarchy.
What can I say, it's a losing battle. These days, whenever I see a video or article that promises to tell me AMAZING facts about menstruation, I wish I had my personal pushpaka vimana to escape the world.
Here are five 'facts' about menstruation that I don't want to hear about any more:
Menstruating women and 'energy': Menstruating women give out "negative" energy. Or they turn "positive" energy to "negative" energy. Or they alter "energy fields" which can change the atmosphere in a "scientifically" built place (read religious).
If menstrual blood has such a powerful impact on "energy", why aren't we researching it along with gau mutra?
Menstruating women and the kitchen: Menstruating women's bodies have more heat, so the food they touch will spoil easily. Also, segregation was a practice which actually started so menstruating women would get rest on those "special" days.
Aww. So nice. If your idea of "rest" is to sit in a dirty cowshed. Also, what happened if someone decided they felt rested enough? Why impose rules on someone if this was all a big favour you were doing them?
Menstruating women and germs: Menstrual blood is a body fluid. Would you go to a temple with faeces or urine over you? Wouldn't that spread disease? This is the scientific reason why there are restrictions for menstruating women.
Babies wearing diapers (which are likely to have urine if not faeces) are allowed into temples, but not menstruating women wearing sanitary pads. Also, you wear sanitary pads and go everywhere else. So you don't spread disease then?
Menstruating women and medical conditions: If you break these ancient, "scientific" rules, you will develop medical complications that are described newly in medical textbooks but which our ancestors knew about already. You'll get endometriosis. Polycystic ovaries. Uterine chicken pox. Why not? It's all written in the Vedas. Right after the chapter on Ganesha's head transplant.
But what about women across cultures who have these medical conditions? And what about women who follow all the wise rules and still have these conditions?
Menstruating women and neo-colonialism: By selling you disposable sanitary napkins, American companies are trying to take over economically poor but culturally rich nations like ours. They are using non-biodegradable sanitary napkins to destroy our environment and colonize our people. Don't fall for the ploy. Be nationalistic and use cloth.
I use a menstrual cup but I wouldn't go preaching about other women's choices in a country with as much poverty and as little sanitation facilities as India. What would be nationalistic is to focus on these aspects instead of lecturing to women on their carbon footprint. Especially if you don't menstruate yourself.
Guess who else, other than Shashi Tharoor, has had enough of the exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies?