A major disconnect that occurs between men and women regarding our bodies is one which is not often discussed openly but is important to address. This is the topic of menstruation and how men and women view this phenomenon very differently. Most men don’t and will never understand what having a period is really like, and I think this is a major point of discussion within the topic of gender roles.
In the article If Men Could Menstruate, Gloria Steinem makes an interesting point about power. In our society, we have been taught that men are the superior, more powerful gender. Steinem states that if men were to go through menstruation, there would be widespread support and celebration regarding the major life event. She even goes so far as to say women would be envious and try to copy a man’s monthly cycle if they weren’t able to have one themselves. This article then begs the question: When did gender roles become a thing? If men had always been the ones to go through a monthly cycle and bear children, would they still be the “superior” gender? I personally think our society would have a completely different social structure if the roles were reversed in this way. I think much of the inequality that exists among men and women stems from the fact that women are the ones having children, often expected to be the one that stays home the most to raise their children, and therefore often aren’t given high enough expectations in our society to have successful careers and insert themselves in the social hierarchy.
A different approach to this issue is given in the article Ladies and Gentlemen, We’ve Reached Peak Wokeness, in which a video of three men staging a fake period was discussed. The writer looks at the video from a pessimistic perspective, stating that “the most a woman would want from me is a silent understanding that periods exist.” I think this says a lot about the problem of stigmatizing a woman’s menstrual cycle. Women often feel uncomfortable about the subject around men, even though it is the very thing that gives both men and women life. Women are made to feel as though they should be ashamed about the subject, and therefore often avoid the topic altogether in the presence of men. I think the writer of this article is misinformed in his statement, and that women wouldn’t act as though they didn’t want to discuss the subject if men didn’t make them feel as though it is this forbidden, embarrassing topic. In relating this back to Steinem’s article, men have created a false sense of power for themselves by making women feel as though they should be ashamed of something that is natural and unavoidable.
In the actual video Guys Experience Periods for the First Time, I appreciate their efforts to look at the subject from a woman’s point of view. Understanding comes from empathy and trying to take someone else’s point of view, and I think if more people were willing to do this, there would be a lot fewer disparities in gender equality. I also think this would help diminish the stigmas surrounding something that all women deal with on a monthly basis. Also comparing to the ideas of Steinem, the power gap between men and women would be narrowed within our society if we were more willing to talk to one another and understand things from a different perspective.