Fourth grade, the year every female received the dreadful talk about Menarche and becoming a woman. The period was so stigmatized that not only boys would make jokes about it, but girls too. Of course as soon as the first girl in our class started getting her period she became the target for all the jokes. This led all the other girls to lie if they began to have their period. One day at school all the girls from fourth grade up were called into an emergency meeting with the principle. We found out that one of the toilets in the girl’s bathroom had overflowed because of someone tried to flush a pad down. Thinking about that situation now I wonder why anyone would think that would be a good idea. Then I remember, the only trash cans were outside of the stalls. There was nowhere inside the stall to throw dirty pads. Our fourth grade class had made every girl terrified to throw away her pad in front of other girls.
The girls in my class were experiencing being in the menstrual closet. Iris Marion Young talks about how women feel they need to conceal their menstrual process. She talks about how women have a set of rules we follow: don’t talk about your menstrual cycle and keep signs of your menstrual cycle hidden. My fourth grade class made sure that all the females would follow these rules. We kept all the girls in the menstrual closet by making them feel shame about Menarche. Looking back, I don’t understand why my class thought this was such a big deal. We made all the girls terrified of having their first period. Everyone felt public shame to the point that they tried to flush a pad down the toilet. I wish back then we understood how important Menarche is. It’s an important part of a woman’s life where she is starting womanhood. Instead of the girls in my class feeling excited about this major part of their life, they were terrified. We all felt disgusted and shameful about our period. I wonder if Menarche is still experienced as shameful to young girls today? If so, how can we change this and make girls see this process as a big step in life?