It’s About Time We Start Explaining Menstruation to Boys
A self-described "boxer bleeder" outlines a tale of periods, borrowed underwear and pride.
It’s 5:30 a.m. I sluggishly get out of bed, not wanting to do work out but I gotta work out if I’m going to keep eating only pizza. The bathroom lights are too much. Squinting, I pull down my boyfriend’s boxers I am wearing to take the ol’ morning pee. Gap boxers: orange and green striped, to be specific. But, now, there is also a nice little red period stain—that first day, bright, stop sign-red. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.
I am a 29-year-old woman, on birth control, with a regular period, and I still don’t prepare well enough for said period. It’s like, “Oh, I should be getting my period soon. Should probably take some precaution, but to hell with it. Let’s wait until I bleed all over everything.” What can I say? I like living on the edge.
So here I am, all the grogginess immediately dissipating because now I am freaking awake. Shit. What the hell do I do?
“Oh, hey, honey I decided to bleed all over your clothes, sorry ’bout it.” Yeah right!
Water—cold water—quick! Rinse it. Or vinegar. Doesn’t vinegar get out red stains? Well, for wine, but blood? Plus what 20-something man is going to have vinegar? Not this one. Cripes. Oh, wait, pretty sure there is a Tide to Go pen in here somewhere. Where the heck is it? Why is there so much shit everywhere?
“Shit!” I whisper-scream as I knock down everything in the bathroom medicine cabinet.
Oh, praise be, here it is. Frantically, I apply the pen to the bloodstain.
Thank the heavens—the stain is lightening up and coming out. Okay, I am going to wad these boxers up and stick them in the bottom of my gym bag—as if my boyfriend is magically going to know I bled on his boxers and go searching through my gym bag at 5:30 a.m. to find the proof he needs to lock me up.
I go home, wash the boxers, and thank Mother Earth: not a stain in sight. I fold them up and once back at his place, throw them on the floor with all the other clothes he leaves everywhere.
Should Your Boyfriend Know About Your Period? Of Course He Should.
Months later, I’m changing and my boyfriend sees my comfy, slightly-large, rainbow booty short underwear. He looks at me and says, “Honey, you’re wearing your period underwear.” Again, ladies, you know what he’s talking about. And when he says this, I think, “Little do you know, your underwear is my period underwear too.”
Now looking back, I think to myself, “Woman, why are you such a nut?” My boyfriend has seen me at my worst. He has been there with me through anxiety, depression and many of life’s ups and downs. He has seen me cry over the fact that our order of cheese bread was messed up and we got fried mozzarella sticks instead. He has been supportive of me at my worst and doesn’t make me feel crazy even when I’m not myself. So why? Why would I think that me accidentally bleeding on his boxers might be some detrimental event to our relationship, necessitating me to go all covert ops?
The Fact That No One Explains Menstruation to Boys Is the Problem
I really thought about where this fear came from. Yes, fear. It is absurd that a normal bodily function—one that is literally part of the reason we can give life—would be a topic of fear. It could have been from middle school sex ed, when all the boys and girls were put in separate rooms because boys “don’t need to know about that sort of thing.”
And then it clicked. One of my—and many others’—first period discussions taught me that the conversation is only for females. It’s no wonder the boys in school made grossed-out faces and complained they didn’t “need to hear that.” Why would they think any differently if they weren’t taught to?
When a girl would bleed through her pants—as we all know happens, even in one’s late 20s—the reaction of most classmates(boys and girls)was one of judgment and ridicule. Instead of the teacher talking to the class about the normalcy of the situation and educating us, she was rushed out of the classroom and everyone was told to calm down—to pretend it didn’t happen.
Even past boyfriends—men in their 20s—have given me the “I am grossed out. Stop talking about your period” face when I simply talked about tampons. Calm down, I just said I need to change my tampon; I didn’t say I wanted to bleed on your face. If our youth are not educated on how to handle these experiences with compassion and understanding, if they are taught to not talk about it, or to pretend unconformable situations don’t happen, how can we expect there not to be a stigma around menstruation?
It’s Up to Women to Teach Men About Periods
Now, here I am, taking a step toward changing the conversation. It’s me, your secret agent, hider of bloody boxers: the Boxer Bleeder. I am a grown woman who finally realizes that I need to stop contributing to this part of society that doesn’t want to talk about the p-word. Not only do women bleed from their vaginas, but there are also intense hormones and, for some of us, crippling period pain that comes with having a uterus.
Society would do well to change this idea that the topic of periods “aren’t meant for male ears” or “a woman shouldn’t talk about that except with her girlfriends.” Women shouldn’t feel shame or like we have to hide any part of ourselves. We should be able to talk openly about the uncomfortable, sometimes painful and traumatic experiences we have had with our bodies, and not be worried we will be shut down or told to be quiet. We deserve our voices to be heard.
So, cheers to you, my ladies. If you bleed on your boyfriends’ boxers, sheets, etc. it is absolutely okay. Just get a Tide pen and you’ll be fine. (And no, this is not a paid advertisement for Tide.)
Bleed on my beautiful women, bleed on.