Menstruation and (Class) Periods

Debbie says:

When I was in high school in the 1960s, we were very concerned about periods. What class did you have in third period? Were you in study hall in sixth period? What could be worse than having math in first period?

I don’t know if “period” for a class session is still current in American high schools, but in Grahamsville, NY (87 miles north of New York City), the students are being harassed about another kind of period altogether–and they’re fighting back.

Samantha Martin, 14, said she had a small purse with her at Tri-Valley High School in Sullivan County, northwest of New York City, when security guard Mike Bunce called her out of class Sept. 19. She said Bunce told her she couldn’t have a purse unless she was having her period, then asked her whether she was.

I don’t think I need to go into the ways that this is both repressive and abusive. Let me just say that menstruation is still loaded territory in vast areas of the culture. Most women (let alone most teenage girls) are extremely self-conscious about talking about their menstrual cycle or having people know when they’re bleeding. Not to mention the adult man with power (and quite possibly a gun) relating to the teenage girl with no power.

The linked article appears to be the only one on the Web, so some of the back story has to be guessed at. I have to assume that the policy is being framed as anti-drug, anti-weapon, or both. What it actually is, of course, is anti-teen and anti-student, and hence anti-human.

Fortunately, this is only part of the story:

The district had banned backpacks in hallways this year for safety and security reasons, school officials said.

Some students, including boys, have attached tampons or sanitary napkins to their clothing or worn tampons as jewelry in protest. Police even arrested one student protesting the backpack policy who ran naked through school halls with a paper bag over his head.

In repressive, authoritarian times, protests are hopeful and humorous protests are especially hopeful. Is anyone else completely charmed at the image of teenage boys with tampons and pads attached to their t-shirts and blue jeans? And the naked runner reminds me of streakers, whom I always enjoyed.

It sounds like the students at Tri-Valley High School are responding to an oppression designed (among other things) to make the female students even more uncomfortable about their bodies by celebrating and having fun with their bodies. Makes me want to pin a tampon to my shirt before I go to the grocery store …

Thanks to Arthur D. Hlavaty for the link.

menstruation, periods, high school, protests, streakers, feminism, Body Impolitic