I know very few menstruators who enjoy ‘that time of the month’. Between all of the washing, cravings, cramping, and tampon change bathroom coordinations, periods can be a difficult aspect of our lives to deal with, even if you are privileged enough to have access to the products and support you need. Sometimes, it really helps to poke fun at and make jokes about ye ol’ blood bath. For me, it helps to take back power over my period; I find that I feel more in control over a situation if I can find ways to make light of it. So, for your entertainment and empowerment, I present: The Importance of Period Humor.
When out and about in the general world, there’s a lot of veiled prejudice against menstruation, or at least discomfort. It is easy to get sucked into the negativity surrounding periods and feel like your period is in control of you. Sometimes this is a nice excuse to eat more carbs than you would normally allow yourself too or to watch a few more episodes of that new show on Netflix. However, oftentimes, like during a lecture or when you’re trying to get some work done and your abdomen is being attacked by The Crimson Monster of Doom, it can feel like you are losing control over your ability to function normally. Making jokes like ‘time for shark week again’ or ‘I feel the crimson tsunami raging in my uterus’ can allow you to express your frustrations and make a joke out of it.
When you can make fun of something, it gives you an upper hand of sorts. Making fun of the fact that you have your uterus lining slithering down your vaginal canal can be a fun and empowering way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. I know that this strategy works fantastically for me. I often find my cycle to be just another thing to deal with and definitely struggle to find empowerment in having a period when all I can see is the extra time it takes me in the morning to get ready when I have to check my pajamas and sheets for blood stains and constantly plan bathroom visits so as not to leave a pad or tampon in for too long. I would go as far as to say that I am not unique in this sentiment. I have found that plenty of my menstruating friends tend to interact with their periods in generally negative ways and experience a large amount of discomfort and inconvenience from their cycles. When this is the case, it can seem unrealistic to raise the menstrual equity battle flag and shout “ONE TWO THREE FOUR, WE SHALL PAY FOR PADS NO MORE” in the public square. So when I find myself particularly unmotivated by the impending annoyance of having to surf the crimson wave, I transform my frustration into humor. Whether just in my head or to have a laugh with my friends, this tactic lightens the mood and give me a sense of power over what otherwise would feel like an uncontrollable attack on my sanity (maybe that’s a little hyperbolic, but I’m sure you understand what I mean).
In a way, period jokes (when told by menstruators) are almost akin to a kind of language reclamation. While workplace jokes told by non-menstruators about periods making us weaker or less fit to work can be debilitating, when told by a menstruator, can not only help to take away some of the negativity surrounding periods but also allow for the reclamation of traditionally degrading language. By taking control of the language you chose to use surrounding your period gives you control over your attitude towards your period. No matter what some unthinking coworker at the office says about how “it must be that time of the month,” if you chose to reappropriate that phrase as one to make light of your period, it will be significantly easier for you to take it lightly and laugh at the absurdity and cluelessness of your colleague and their comment. Always remember, others cannot have control over how you view your menstruation experience if you get there and take control first.
Now that I have explained why it has been helpful for myself and my fellow flow-experiencing friends, here are a few ideas for jokey euphemisms you can use to make light of an, at times, heavy situation.
- Shark week
- Surfing the crimson wave
- The slithering maroon serpent
- The vicious crimson tide
- Any shade of red + any body of water
- Blood bath
- The thick, slick current
Of course, period euphemisms are not for everyone. Some menstruators find that beating around the bush with how they verbalize their menstrual experiences to be degrading or unnecessary, which is a completely valid reality. Not all period-having persons will think that calling your period flow a “raging scarlet loch ness monster” is funny, but if you do, that is all that matters. The way menstruators decide to describe their experiences and realities a totally personal choice, and different things will work for different people. I have found that period jokes are a way I find empowerment in my period and prevent myself from falling into a negative attitude centered around how inconvenient I find so many aspects of my period. However, equally valid is wanting to be frank and upfront in the vocabulary you use around your cycle. My advice is, don’t be afraid to crack a joke now and then, especially if it isn’t something you have done before or isn’t a tactic you have used to seek empowerment. See if it is something that works for you! If not, however, feel free to stick to your upfront language and vocabulary. No matter what works for you, empowerment is empowerment.
Thank you for reading! I would love to hear any experience or feedback you have in the comments below or on Instagram. Bleed in power!