I can’t help but use labels although I don’t always like them. But labels help in identifying things, people or events and Kiran Gandhi’s running the London Marathon while “free-bleeding” has definitely become an “event” on the internet.
Now it might be a knee-jerk reaction to go ‘WTF’ followed by an “ewww” but I wanted to understand her reasons for putting herself through this kind of a discomfort before I started to dish out my personal reactions to the whole thing. And here is where she elaborates further on her decision to run without donning a pad or a tampon.
In a nutshell her reasons seem to be that, the moment topics which aren’t usually aired in general (aka bodily excretions et al) and make people uncomfortable; are touched upon, we all shrink away. This maybe from something which is naturally occurring and can’t or shouldn’t be shoved under the rug.Essentially, our bodies are for our consumption and not anyone else’s. And I quote, “If we don’t own the narrative of our own bodies, somebody else will use it against us,”.
And this is what I don’t understand. Had the lady in question been menstruating during the marathon and taken steps to hide that she was, what would have been the set-back to the cause of women in day and age? And when I write ’cause’ I mean everything that women have to face regarding their bodies, appearance, safety et al from the outside world.
The decision to not use a pad or a tampon is a personal one but to bring it to everyone’s notice and attach a label of some kind of intellectual statement to it doesn’t sit well with me at all. Women bleed. Check. They bring eventually forth children as a result of that bleeding. Check. Should people know that a women is bleeding? I honestly don’t know about that.
Should people shun a women and condemn her as being “dirty” during those days? Definitely wrong! Ludicrous in fact. But should a women inconvenience herself, make others awkward around her, ignore hygiene factors all for the sake of making a statement? It seems rather a farfetched thing to do.
Pass out sanitary pads to those who have limited or no access to feminine hygiene products, in the presence of the male members of their family and society if you want to make a statement that would stick and actually jolt people to becoming aware.
Running a race in tight fitting clothing with your menstrual blood staining your body and clothes and being on display for the benefit of others isn’t the kind of role model or any kind of person I’d like to look up to. And it doesn’t do a thing for me personally as a woman.
And it actually made me think what will people think of next. It’s the same thing I thought when I read Germaine Greer’s quote-
- If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your own menstrual blood – if it makes you sick, you’ve got a long way to go, baby- The Wicked Womb (p. 57)
I found it distasteful (excuse the pun) and don’t subscribe to it at all. One woman stating what another woman ought to be or do to be considered “liberated” seems to be more along the lines of men trying to “enslave” women with their notions of being barefoot and pregnant all over again.
This man however truly makes a difference.
Funny how gender doesn’t make much of a difference if you’ve got your heart in the right place and your priorities straight!