“Nothing in our society-with the exception of violence and fear-has been more effective in keeping women in their place than the degradation of the menstrual cycle.” ~ Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup
“How might your life have been different for you if, on your first menstrual day, your mother had given you a bouquet of flowers and taken you to lunch, and then the two of you had gone to meet your father at the jeweler, where your ears were pierced…and then you went, for the very first time, to the Women’s Lodge, to learn the wisdom of the women? How might your life be different?” ~ Circle of Stones by Judith Duerk
A few months ago I was helping a friend who was burning (used) toilet paper as a way of fuel (and to dispose of the waste) and to my surprise, I saw a commercial/disposable menstrual pad in the pile…(my surprise relates to the fact that in this place, everybody stretches the boundaries to live in a more eco-friendly/Permaculture-like way); when I asked her whether they had considered educational workshops for women and girls about more sustainable ways to care for their monthly period and presented her with the idea of the cloth pad, she said it was OK but we should allow them to make their own choices.
A woman will use up to 16,800 disposable pads and tampons during her lifetime. The materials with which these stuff is made heavily pollute and accumulate in landfills around the planet. For a vast majority of girls and women around the world, menstruating is synonym of missing classes, cramps and discomfort, infections due to poor hygiene, shame and stigma. Many girls and women cannot afford buying disposable pads and use whatever they can find around, from leaves to mud, pieces of clothing and mattresses, even tree bark…because of the stigma, those who do use reusable pads, can’t wash and hang them out for a good solar/wind shake and reuse them still wet, which causes infections and discomfort. Many women and girls don’t have any chat before their first period and nobody to support them or answer their questions.
Many girls and women out there don’t really have any choices.
One of the things Permaculture does to you is opening your brain to systemic thinking: all is interconnected and when we discover this, we have no other choice than stand up to do the right thing: once you know certain things, you can’t be a “Permaculturist” in all other ways but not in what’s possibly the most intimate you can be as a woman: your womb and your cycles, the gift given to you so you can give life.
Years ago, in my exploration to reduce both waste and impact on both the environment and other people, I discovered (or I should say “re-discover” as this is one of the oldest practices we women have) the wonders of reusable cloth pads…I started with RagGlads (US based) and then switched to Treehugger Pads (Canada based); after some months to get used to them and years of comfort, not only I have no regrets: I am ready to make my own and share my experience with others…
I invite all the women (and brave, supporting and caring men) reading this post to share the wisdom with their daughters, sisters, mothers, friends and even their communities: break the silence and the stigma and consider changing your approach not only by exploring a new/old “technique”, but also to help our sisters around the world and change the stigma they are carrying for “being a woman”.
I also invite you (woman) to take a pause, observe your cycles and respect them: they are Nature’s way to tell you to stop, relax, change the rhythm of what you do, don’t force yourself to be or do what you are not, paraphrasing Emily Stewart:
“As a culture, we force ourselves into spring and summer all the time, constantly producing and achieving. It’s not surprising how hard it is to honour our internal seasons. But we can use our cycle to inform us and shape sustainable ways of being for ourselves, especially in the face of all our existing responsibilities”(Permaculture & the Menstrual Cycle)
“In the red tent, the truth is known. In the red tent, where days pass like a gentle stream, as the gift of Innana courses through us, cleansing the body of last month’s death, preparing the body to receive the new month’s life, women give thanks — for repose and restoration, for the knowledge that life comes from between our legs, and that life costs blood.”
~ Anita Diamant, The Red Tent
Links for projects and more information:
Make-it-yourself menstrual pads: http://www.treehugger.com/style/bleed-with-pride-make-it-yourself-menstrual-pads.html
More options: http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~obsidian/clothpads/
Sustainable Menstruation: http://www.huffingtonpost.in/marcy-newman-/sustainable-menstruation_b_6774196.html
Biodegradable sanitary pads made of water hyacinth: http://www.empoweringwomenperiod.org/
Permaculture and the menstrual cycle: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/permaculture-menstrual-cycle
Red Cycle (awakening menstruality): http://www.redschool.net/