PERIOD TALK – EPISODE 3: NOT WELL?
Part 3 of the mini series Period Talk. Every month, Mariette Reineke (46, pictured on the right) and Naomi van Ree (26, pictured on the left) talk about their menstruation. Today’s theme: the Dutch word for being on your period: ‘ongesteld’. Meaning ‘not well.’ Do we need to ditch this eufemism? What’s your opinion? Join the conversation!
Naomi: ‘There’s a lot to do about the negative attitude towards menstruation these days. In language and in real life. Take for example the Dutch word ‘ongesteld’. Meaning ‘not well’. In the past I really felt unsettled when I had my period. But, as you can read in our last conversation, that has changed competely. This month I didn’t experience any problems or issues at all during my menstruation.
I’ve made the decision to talk openly about my cycle, with both men and women, in order to educate them about this fantastic natural phenomenon. Did you know that your menstruation is like a free detox, every month? And we’re spending a lot of money on juice cleanses, ha! Luckily, things are changing and we’re breaking the taboo on menstruation more and more.
‘Did you know that your menstruation is a free detox? And we’re spending a lot of money on juice cleanses, ha!’
I’m curious how you have been raised. How did girls in high school deal with their menstruation when you were young? How did the boys react? Did you speak openly about your period in school? Me, I still remember the shame and embarrassment, of both the girls and the boys, when someone had her period. Some even thought it was dirty. Girls running to the toilet with a tampon hidden in their hands. What impact does this have on us women, when we try to be invisible for a couple of days each month?’
Mariette: ‘My period started in high school, exactly on the day I was wearing white trousers and my dad was picking me up after school. Two rare factors, especially combined. My dad asked if I wanted to walk the dogs and I was too afraid to say I just got my period. It was the most uncomfortable walk in my life.
I have two older sisters, so I could ask them a few things. And that was about it, apart from some practical tips about how to use a tampon. I can’t remember that I thought having my period was something dirty, but I wasn’t talking about it either. It was just something that was part of my life. Period. Especially in relationships with men, I was shy and afraid to say I had my period. Like it was something to be ashamed of and they would reject me if I said I was menstruating.
‘I can’t remember that I thought having my period was something dirty, but I wasn’t talking about it either’
Embracing my menstruation, or actually embracing being a woman, started much later in my life. I now speak openly about it, just as I speak and share openly about menopause. These things are part of me, part of being a woman. I read this article in the Guardian this week that mentioned women don’t need to bleed every month and that more and more women are giving up on their period. To me, this feels like cancelling a magazine or newspaper subcription. Over and done with.
A female professor called the menstruation one of God’s great design faults. I think we can leave God out of this conversation and that we as women should ask ourselves the question: why don’t we accept that we are divine and why don’t we live that divinity? We’re far away from living our sacredness due to the way we live, with all its consequences. There is no such thing as design faults, but there are choices.
There is in fact less of a taboo on menstruation nowadays, but we still have a long way to go. For me the biggest taboo is on being and living as a woman, and on what this truly means: to live in your power and glory, true to yourself and the qualities that you bring, and not let yourself get affected by anything or anyone outside of yourself. In our current society this is quite a challenge; it isn’t encouraged. We have a long way to go as women, but when we do this together and support each other along the way, great and true things will happen.’
What’s your opinion? Respond via the contact form below or send an email to redactie <@> period.nl.
About the authors
Mariette Reineke works as a freelance journalist, writer/blogger and practioner. She is co-founder of Stichting Verkering met Jezelf. Follow her via her platform Heartstorm. Naomi van Ree is a Dutch storyteller who is specialised in Eastern elements philosophy and acupressure. She’s also a reiki therapist. Find more information on her website.
A very public menstrual leak, by Sarah Sahagian
Dear Period…, by Yayeri van Baarsen
Period changes and chemotherapy, by Cruz Santana
A time for celebration, by Robyn Jones
Why did I ever think this was normal, by Clare Knox