PLACES I’VE BLED
A STORY BY ALX
The day after my boyfriend’s birthday, he tells me he has “something to tell me…about us”. Like any normal person, I assume of course that this is something serious, or at the very least something scandalous…but no, my sweetheart is just a sensationalist.
He says: “I found blood on my boxers this morning.”
I instinctively think he has haematuria, but no…it’s my blood he was talking about. You see, birthdays and Jack Daniels make one hell of a mixture, and I wasn’t going to let a little monthly flow get in the way of some good old celebratin’, so let’s just say ‘Always’ doesn’t always work when you’re trying to twerk.
As luck would have it, I was bleeding during my finals, and for someone who flows quite a bit, a three hour-long paper isn’t something I look forward to. Needless to say, my worst fear came to pass and I had to leave the exam hall an hour early, wearing my hoodie around my waist as I was taught to. In my defence, I didn’t know anymore answers and I had other papers to study for, so combined with potentially haemorrhaging all over my seat, I ended up walking out like a rock star. I aced the exam by the way.
It’s funny when you think about it…I don’t recall ever bleeding out in a female friend’s room. The first time I bled on someone else’s property, it was my ex boyfriend’s (we weren’t together at the time). I had on black clothing, and paid him a visit for just a short while. When I got up to leave…or maybe not leave, I don’t remember…I did “the check” and to my astonishment, there it was! A hideous red patch on his flowery ivory sheets! You know what I did? I grabbed his bed sheet and told him I needed to borrow it. I guess the look in my eye wasn’t one for asking questions so I quickly made my way out of his room with twin sheet in tow, no questions asked. Ever. I returned it as promised, and maybe this is just one of the many reasons he thinks I’m unhinged; maybe he figured it out but I really don’t know, because, like I said, we’ve never talked about it.
A friend of mine – who’s incidentally currently dating said ex – also had a similar mishap when she, her boyfriend at the time and I all visited a male mutual friend of ours. He was very cordial about it, as though he’s used to people bleeding around him, and even treated us to some anecdotes: of times when he chanced upon blood while looking for other fluids that emanate from the same well…if you catch my drift…
The most entertaining Unexpected Exposed Bleed (UEB) would have to be the most recent. While at a get together at male friend’s house, I almost had to steal his cushion to hide my UEB. Luckily, there was a voice of calm (that I discretely notified via WhatsApp…while she was six inches away from me) who talked me out of it; all I did was sneak the cushion away from the crowd into the bathroom and try to wash my embarrassment away with carbolic soap in dim lighting. In the end, I made a clean get-away (in my mind) despite having five potential witnesses.
Why is this menstruation thing such a big deal, really? It happens to almost every woman almost every month for almost forty years of her life. The belief that it’s unclean is so widespread that I won’t even begin to delve into its origins. I haven’t read even close to enough about that topic. But all that aside, do we avoid menstrual accidents just because we want to avoid all stains on our property? If you’re a woman like me, then you know it’s almost impossible to get blood out of cotton. Is it in the same category as grass stains and red wine? Or is there something deeper to it?
Having recently been exposed to the Free Bleeding Movement, I agree that we need to explore the potentially subliminally restrictive aspects of managing our monthly flows. I’ve never thought that I was trying to “hide” my bleeding, I was simply absorbing and discarding it in the most hygienic way- and let me just state, I HATE menstruating. The cramps, the headaches, the back pain, the constant need to carry a discrete arsenal of absorptive items, granny panties, strictly black bottoms for a week. Not being to wear what I want: yes, sanitary pad manufacturers, all of you: I don’t know what rabbits you use in your ‘trials’ but maybe you should contact me. The lack of ergonomic design in your products can only be likened to a wad of cloth.
The lunar cycle is not my friend and I dread it like a werewolf in denial. I know there are many schools of thought on how best way to catch your flow, but up until today, I never known one school that believed in letting your flow flow. In principle, I’m not in favour of giving potentially infectious bodily fluids free range, like urine and faeces – there are strong public health indications for proper disposal of such excreta. However, like sweat, menstruation is a continuous process and an inability to moderate its controlled release is normal , so we shouldn’t really be any more embarrassed about menstrual blood stains as we are of sweat stains…but then again, pit stains are seen as embarrassing aren’t they?
The larger issue is why natural and normal bodily functions are still taboo. Why is obvious defeminisation, the desirable feminine state? What exactly does the absence of pubic hair signify if not pre pubescence (the actual answers are cytotoxic drug therapy and a few disease states, but I’m sure this is a different kind of fetish)? How exactly is looking emaciated (and most likely amenorrhoeic) with hips like a young boy a desirable feminine trait? Perhaps the free bleeding movement seeks to address the possibility that hiding menstruation is a form of objectifying women; after all, inanimate objects don’t urinate, defecate or flatulate either, and maybe this is just one of the many ways society takes away a woman’s right to be a living thing.
Artwork © BARBARA TERESHCHENKO
Dissolved, 50×50, acrylic on canvas, 2014