Are you ready for a Menstrual Revolution?

This article was written by a dear friend Iris Josephina, founder of Cycleseeds, about the work she does to get this revolution started. I’m proud to share this powerful and recognisable story with you, the story of the powerful woman, the journey behind Menstrual Revolution Book and how to pre-order it. Enjoy!

Menstrual Revolution? Say what?

Yes. A menstrual revolution. No, I am not calling out out to all menstruators to free-bleed in public for the rest of their lives, don’t worry (if you want to do that, by the way: feel absolutely free!).

My vision for a menstrual revolution is the following: to make sure everyone knows that she/he deserves to treat themselves to the luxury of knowing their own bodies.

It’s becoming a rare thing that menstruators actually know what happens in their bodies every month, and it is, I guess, one of the reasons we are not only alienating from ourselves, but also from others. And that’s an absolute pity.

This revolution aims to shed some positive light on this absolutely natural and normal process that half of the world’s population goes through ever. single. month. It’s time to ditch the taboos and create a world where this topic can be openly discussed, where accurate education will be the norm, and that menstruator’s bodies can be what they are – and not being suppressed to fit the patriarchal norms.

How did you decide to set this revolution in motion?

It is part of my personal life, actually. I have been on birth control pills for a very long time (many different ones) and they caused me some serious side effects which had me make drastic changes in my life. One of them was the following: I decided I needed to start a new pill, because I would be traveling to a remote area in the Colombian amazon, and I had told myself it would be “unhygienic” to menstruate over there (if I look back on that I think: what on earth is unhygienic about a dang forest?). I started a new brand of pills a week before I went. After my first night in a tiny city called Leticia, I woke up in the morning discovering I could not feel my leg anymore. You can imagine this was kind of freaky – I was all by myself, during my very first solo trip abroad, in a city in the Amazon, I barely spoke Spanish and did not know where to go. At first, I assumed this was caused by the malaria pills I took, but when reading all the manuals I discovered this was a potential side-effect from the BC pill I took. Yikes! I quit that same day, didn’t visit a doctor, and trusted on my own body to take over.

A couple of months later I started once more, based on the same excuse: I would go travel and study abroad and being on my period would no be so ‘handy’..Right. After 1 month of taking a new pill, I almost fainted every time I rode my bike because I was SO tired. My OB/gyn told me this was a side effect of the pill I took. What?!

That was it. I quit and swore to myself to NEVER take any form of hormonal birth control again. And started educating myself instead of fearing my own body’s functions.

At the end of 2011, I quit my BC pills once and for all. I use natural birth control now and feel very good about my body, my cycle, my sexual responsibilities and in all of this, I feel empowered because I am the one in charge – and not a pill.

When sharing my story with others, I was surprised to hear that other women had similar stories. I opened the conversation more often and started studying more and more.

Up until today.

Last year, the idea for a menstrual revolution was born – after Rupi Kaur posting that picture of herself on her period which got blocked from Instagram, after Kiran Gandhi shared she free-bled during the London marathon, after Sweden’s Clara Henry wrote a book called “I menstruate, so what?”, and after having had some doula clients who didn’t know anything about the workings of their own bodies and only started to think about that when they had gotten pregnant,  I thought: we need to start earlier. Everyone who menstruates has the right to know how a menstruating body works.

It’s time. It’s really time to reclaim our cycles.

You are using the word ‘menstruator’, why is that?

The word in itself does not entirely speak to me, but it is, until now, the most gender neutral word I have found. It was introduced to me by other participants of a conference organized by The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. I guess I just have to get used to it. It doesn’t sound all romantic, but it is just wrong to think only women menstruate. There are people who – to the outer world – look like a man but underneath their clothes they still have a female reproductive system functioning. I must say I sometimes find it hard to use gender neutral language because I don’t know that much about transgender. The main reason I started using the word menstruator is because I felt I was discriminating people by using the word ”women” when talking about people who menstruate..

Although this will no be the main focus in the book, I want to include as many people as possible in the discussion. That’s why I am using this word.

What do you envision for this revolution?

Honesty. Mainly brutal raw honesty. There are so many things that are hidden from us, research that is not published because it might threaten billion dollar businesses, and cannot be openly discussed. And that’s just not fair. I aim to bring justice and honesty, and maybe a little crack in patriarchy. We deserve to know how our bodies work, and how the products we use (hormonal birth control and conventional menstrual products in particular) can influence our bodies – positively or negatively. I have the feeling this currently is hard, impossible and not supported – especially not in mainstream media. And I believe that should change. For the sake of humanity, really. Because think about it: if we do not have healthy cycles, we would not be sitting here.

If you want to learn to preorder the book, released in Autumn 2016, check it out here

More about Iris and her work:

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