Menstruation jokes aren’t funny. Period. ? Okay, some are… Shame and stigma around the natural biological function, however, aren’t so humorous.
I recently sat down with the witty and insightful Swedish YouTube star, Clara Henry, whose videos and book about periods are material I wish all people with uteruses had early on. Clara hadn’t expected to become a celebrated menstruation expert, then one day a simple tweet several years in to her YouTube career set her on that path.
“I tweet about everything in my life,” she told me, “and since I’m menstruating one-fifth of my time, obviously I’m going to tweet about my period.”
She tweeted about her cramps once, then again the following month, hoping laughing about them might make the pain more tolerable. Then someone replied: “Clara, why do you always tweet about your period?”
But did she? Not even close. Realizing that period talk draws reactions because relatively few people engage in it, Clara decided to create a video about cramps, which drew a mix of reactions.
Part of the audience found it gross, suggesting she keep her period to herself. Others related and cheered her on. Her audience at the time consisted of many young folks, many of whom had never talked about menstruation. Suddenly they had an entertaining mentor to help them through rough patches by shedding light on a the taboo subject they were living with.
“I was kind of blown away by the responses,” she said. “I loved the positive comments, and the negative comments made me want to speak even more about it.”
Clara has done precisely that, going beyond the basics of period-related issues and her own experiences to explore menstruation as an important feminist issue and pen the book, I’ve Got My Period. So What?, which became an award-winning hit in Sweden, has been translated into numerous language and released this month in the U.S.
“What if men had PMS?” she said of periods and feminism. “I think that would be seen as something deep and political and they could go into themselves and be dark and difficult, while women are seen as hysterical. That’s such a common word to describe women, and that’s a real problem.”
When I asked Clara what she’d say to someone experiencing shame around menstruation, she shared the following positive notion I adore:
“I’ve always thought that this is an internal bleeding that I don’t need to call 911 for… I’m such a badass girl that I can survive this every month. And think it’s cool.”
Listen to our chat on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Stitcher Radio or here:
- More about periods as a feminist issue
- A super common PMS myth
- A simple way to help menstruating homeless people
- How Clara deals with internet trolls
- What she wants anyone dealing with severe menstrual symptoms to know
- What Dr. Megan Fleming loves about a free video series you may want to check out!
- (To learn more and access them, click here. They’re all about creating relationships you love.)
Check out “The Kathy and Mo Show” comedy show originally aired on HBO, now on DVD. Great skit about “if men had periods.”
August McLaughlin says
Scott L Vannatter says
Periods don’t bother me; they fascinate me. As was stated, basically, if men bled that much every month, I am doubtful they would survived the loss. And, each time you get into a fight with a woman, just remember what she goes though each month (plus childbirth) and you may have bitten off more than you care to chew…don’t believe me? Read that book or watch the movie about the woman who burned her husband alive on his mattress (“The Burning Mattress”).
Funny? maybe, but then again, I am glad I love women and want them treated well.
August McLaughlin says
Thanks, Scott! We need more guys who think the way you do.
Scott L Vannatter says
Ah, it was “The Burning Bed” sorry.
Aurora Jean Alexander says
Well, there are many things circling around the period… disgust, rumors and blood. HAHA. I had my experiences with mine…
One of the most hilarious things I still remember is that my Dad never wanted to hear about it and he hated to see the little ‘neutral’ blue bags we left in the bathroom trashcan. With him being the only guys with three women, there was hardly any time he didn’t see them.
While he had no problems grocery shopping and taking home bathroom tissue he would refuse bringing us anything that had to do with our menstruation… no ‘neutral’ bags, no sanitary napkins, no tampons… he rather gave us some money and told us to go get what we needed.
God bless him, I’m still giggling about it.
KM Huber says
As an aging feminist, I couldn’t help but think about how much more effective feminism in the 1960s and 1970s might have been if the symbol had been menstruation rather than say, bra burning. Of course, each is a separate issue; I’ll leave the imagery to imagination. To me, Clara Henry’s book and videos are for every woman at any age, menopause notwithstanding. Who knows what secrets we might unlock about the human experience if menstruation was just an every day tweet. A brilliant episode, thanks to all