Sunday, January 16, 2005

Let It Bleed

This is a piece that was written for the 2004 production of Yoni Ki Baat (literally "Talks of the Vagina"), a South Asian spin on The Vagina Monologues put on by San Francisco-based South Asian Sisters.

-gulab jamun

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Let It Bleed

One morning in fifth grade, I was just going about my usual business: brushed my teeth, pulled my pants down to pee...

"Oh my God... I shit in my pants!!!"

I was mortified by my rectal incompetence!

But wait, it didn't really look like shit; it was brown, but it had more of a soupy texture. I didn't know what to do with this, so I just took off my chaddi and presented it to my mom.

At first even she was surprised.

"You didn't get hurt, right?"

"I don't think so; I never felt anything there."

"OK, well... it looks like you got your period."

Oh. I remembered her telling me about this period thing. I would start bleeding every month because later I would have to have a baby, and I couldn't go to the temple when I had this thing, but I thought that was going to be when I was 13 or 14, not 10!

"So what do I do now??"

"Ek minute."

She went to the closet and came back with a small green package.

"This is a maxi-pad. You just tape it to your underwear so it covers the hole where you are bleeding from- you know, that is where the baby comes from. Do you want me to tape it for you?"

I liked to think of myself as grown up enough to figure things out on my own, so I declined the offer for help and proceeded to the bathroom with my pad.

Common sense has never really been my forte, and I started wondering how I was supposed to get this thing to cover the hole where babies came from. See, I always thought babies came from lower in the stomach. At the bottom of my rolls of baby fat (which have now brazenly assumed the role of adult fat), there was this indentation, which I thought could reasonably expand into a hole if a baby needed to come out. I applied the pad horizontally as I thought it should go and wondered, who designs these things? Why was the tape only attached to the top part of the underwear? Maybe the rest of the tape was for the shirt to go over?

Well, eventually I figured out the right way to wear a pad, but there are many things about these things that I still don't get. Like, why are there so many varieties of them? You have to scan the aisle for several minutes before finding the right kind. I know this is supposed to be the great thing about capitalism- all this competition! all these choices!- but does anyone really choose the short, bulky-ass pad with no wings?!

I also don't get why we have to pay for pads in public restrooms. That may seem obvious, but think about it. We don't pay for toilet paper, right? The government doesn't want us dribbling our piss and smearing our shit everywhere, and it would be kind of ridiculous to carry around wads of toilet paper, so we have it provided in restrooms. Oh, I guess when it's a "female-specific" concern, well, women are either responsible enough or unimportant enough so they don't have to figure into any budget. Maybe that mentality could explain why so many insurance policies will cover Viagra but not birth control.

Well, fuck that! We should stand up to this bullshit. Our bleeding pussies deserve free sanitation too! We shouldn't have to carry around a pad or a tampon or a quarter everywhere we go. I think we should just... bleed. Let's just go around bleeding all over the malls, parks, schools, government buildings, and see how the mothafuckers like that! Let's let our blood gush from every mountaintop, and from sea to shining sea. That's what we have to do, ladies: just let it bleed!

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