The campaign that gets a thumbs up from us

Flix Friday, January 16, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | June 19, 2014 | 7.21 pm IST News of #LetsTalkPeriods, a newly launched citizen journalism programme on CNN-IBN, brought to mind an essay by Gloria Steinem. This is how the essay, “If men could menstruate”, begins: “Living in India made me understand that a white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking a white skin makes people superior, even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and wrinkles. “Reading Freud made me just as skeptical about penis envy. The power of giving birth makes "womb envy" more logical, and an organ as external and unprotected as the penis makes men very vulnerable indeed. “But listening recently to a woman describe the unexpected arrival of her menstrual period (a red stain had spread on her dress as she argued heatedly on the public stage) still made me cringe with embarrassment. That is, until she explained that, when finally informed in whispers of the obvious event, she said to the all-male audience, "and you should be proud to have a menstruating woman on your stage. It's probably the first real thing that's happened to this group in years.”” Now this, is attitude. One that is worth emulating. For a show aimed that discussing an aspect of women’s lives, menstruation is a great subject. Because people don’t talk periods, they talk about “that time of the month”, “back-aches” and stomach aches. But not the blood, not the stains, not the “no-entry”s into the kitchen, the different plates, the “distance” at weddings, festivals, and what not. When the media – not just the news media – have glorified, insulted, objectified, stereotyped and ridiculed women, a programme that has real people engaging with an issue which an everyday thing for women, is refreshing. Social Media Editor at CNN-IBN, Ruchira Singh told The News Minute that it was “difficult to say” if the taboo around menstruation was “sexist or purely because there is shame attached to it. We partnered with one of the organisations that gave us stats about the kind of rituals and myths that people still follow and believe in when it comes to menstruation.” But let’s not forget that India’s women are very, very diverse. That though menstruation is common to all of us, our options on how to deal with them are not. If the show can remember this, and not just limit itself to the urban, upper-class crowds, it would be a meaningful discussion.  From the beggar-woman on the street with a baby on her hip, to the rich chauffeured women of the world, there is a long distance.  We hope the show will take into account these differences among us... as we are tired of advertisements peddling a sanitary napkin and an airhostess’ job.