Some of you may have seen a picture of a dad and his little daughter at a comic book festival called WonderCon that recently made the rounds on Twitter and Facebook. They are both in Wonder Woman costumes. You see the father, with his beard, posing proudly in his skirt and shield-bracelets, right behind his daughter in the same getup. The picture got me thinking about the role of dads, stepdads, uncles and other father figures in helping us to change the message around periods and vaginal health.
One of the strongest messages we tend to get from the culture is that we girls and women are supposed to "protect" boys and men from any information about menstruation. What goes on "down there" is supposed to be our private business that would scare or disgust the other sex if they had to even think about it. A friend once told me that her mother made her wrap her used pads so thoroughly in toilet paper as to create a nearly basketball-sized wad in the wastebasket, for the sole purpose that her father would not see any evidence of her period.
Think of all the things you and your friends do to keep vaginal-health related information away from the eyes and ears of boys. Now think about how those boys will grow up to be men and maybe fathers, and maybe even fathers of daughters. If those men don't know anything about periods, then we're all kind of perpetuating a bad cycle of ignorance. But what if we changed the message? What if we were more open with boys and men about the fact that periods are just a normal, natural part of being a healthy girl and woman? Changing the message and including males would help create allies. And like the little girl in that picture, we could all use some good male allies who feel proud to support us as females.
One small way to start would be to shop for tampons and pads with your dad or stepdad, or to ask him to buy you those products for you the next time he's at the store. Try it. Believe it or not, I bet he'll actually be proud to do that. He'll feel included, like an ally. He might even feel like Wonder Dad.
So let's change the message. Guess what, guys? We females have periods and we're your daughters, nieces, sisters and friends. We'd like you to know about us and our vaginal health. We'd like you to be our allies. We're Wonder Women and we'd like Wonder Dads by our side.
While I find some of the phraseology in the article to be weird (maybe its because this very topic has been perpetuated as weird or private my whole life), I definitely agree with the message. We need to stop being ashamed. All bodily functions are normal and ok! It's 2013!" - Anon Girl
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