Every woman has her own story to tell about the ebbs and flows of her menstrual cycle. Some suffer less, some suffer more than words could propose to express. For me well, i fall into the latter as many people in my life will already know. I’m going to try to describe what it feels like…There is an edge to everything. Soft sounds can ring harsh and easy tasks exasperate me. I misjudge corners and stub my toes. My mind becomes foggy and frazzled. I sound hostile. Patience levels start to plummet, eventually falling to somewhere below the zero line. I was never particularly patient with men, but the week before my period, if he interrupts me whilst I’m speaking, I will tell him how I am feeling very clearly. If he argues, clear becomes more assertive and if he gets defensive, well, he has just asked for the full expression of telling-it-like-it-is. Thats just the way it goes. I have tried to contain myself at these awkward moments, to avoid the ignorant male who cant see past his own reflection, but when a surging of fury born from multitudes of generations of silenced women comes beaming forth at the speed of light… I seem to be at the mercy of raging hormones.
Sadly, obviously, and at no fault of their own, most men (though I have never had a man turn to me with compassion and say, sorry for interrupting, I can see you are suffering right now maybe you are at that shitty stage of your cycle) have no conception of what it means to be a women. Hey, us women weren’t even taught about our cycles, and neither are the little girls being educated TODAY. There is zero education about The 4 Stage Cycle running through her body every single month, until menopause when the entire hormonal story changes into another extreme hormonal reality altogether. Needless to say, it is a hormonally hardcore situation to be a woman. My question is, why is it so easy to see, that nothing is for free in business, in life generally, but when it comes to gestating and rearing a human civilisation, this is supposedly a one sided offering? No guys, its not. It takes a lot of inner workings, chemical reactions and hormones to do this magical creation thing, and it costs us our sanity at times, can be agonisingly painful, and emotionally exhausting. On top of that, women are still expected to do everything men do to take care of ourselves and our lives and of course, the babies and children we have pushed out of our vaginas. We have 24hours of child care giving ON TOP of the bleeding, the shitty moods and it’s hard for most men to understand why a woman who gets frustrated, angry or assertive sometimes.
What are we going to do about this? Feels like we really need to rethink education. Firstly, I, as a woman, was never taught about my 4 stages in my cycle. When i started to bleed it was not really an event that we celebrated… it was hushed to save me from embarrassment as far as I can remember. Today I think that’s a bit sad and wish we had had a party.... I think boys should be taken aside at school when they are very young and taught exactly what's what, including the fact that women are super special because of all the hard work their bodies, mind and spirit does for this species, i.e. creating us from the inside out! That the most basic law of nature is that boys and men must respect them as if they are gods because that IS basically what they are.
For the last forever-as-we-know-it, women have been dealing with servitude, oppression, persecution, tyranny, endless abuse, imbalance of power, exploitation, subjugation, repression, suppression, enslavement, rape and murder the list goes on and this is the first time in history that we have the ability to actually BE ANGRY OUT LOUD. Halefuckingluja. Surprise! No, dont be surprised if we express ourselves loudly at times, because Its about time. To the men who still interrupt when she is expressing how she feels - please, Listen. There is so much to learn from women, and not only do we deserve your respect, but you owe it to the divine who is gracing you with expression of how she feels, for what you could never ever fully understand but only imagine, to hold your tongue and hold space. I know this all comes as a shock and feels like a knock to your 'masculinity' but there has been some confusion. Listening and holding space for a woman IS your masculinity in action. Dont even do it for yourself, do it for humanity.
We have a long way to go to bridge this gap between men and women. Yesterday I listened to a podcast about the times not so long ago when Dr’s aka men were trying to discover what the strange little knob above the vagina hole was, they where so confused as it clearly had nothing to do with making babies so why was it there? At one point they decided that the clitoris was an abnormal growth and some women where made to have it cut off! Then they started to explore why women would get so upset at time... Angry upset women were labelled as ‘hysterical’ and treatments where usually a ‘pelvic massage’ that resulted in an orgasm. No doubt this helped somewhat, but at no point in this exploration is there a record of men asking women how they where feeling... having so many demands placed on them and not being able to say how they felt... How did it get the the stage that men thought of women as unintelligent and incapable? After many years of thought, I have come to propose a theory that the general case of men hold an inherent insecurity that lies at the core of their oppressive behaviour - And how did that happen? There are very few things that are cross culturally relevant - and there are also a lot of layers of cellular memory and societal teachings to take into consideration - but most essentially, the thing that binds us all together in common, is that all women make the babies and bring them up as young children. This is a universal thing about humanity. And therefore, one specific thing has occurred for all men and it is this: at the point at which a baby boy realises it is separate from its mother, it is not simply another being like a baby girl is, who is a continuation of her mother who will (typically) automatically become a woman when she starts to bleed. For a boy, at the same time he realises he is seperate, he also realises that he is a completely different thing to his mother. The depth of his ‘what am i?” is mostly unconscious and results in the little boy needing much more guidance as to his role and place in the world. Traditionally this was always the way things played out with boys being guided and initiated into manhood via very specific rights of passage. Today, and historically in the west, this guidance and initiation into manhood has almost all but been eroded into the everyday plight of making money to buy things to live. Yes there are bar mitzvahs, but I would argue that the teachings of becoming a man are grossly lacking in reference to the necessary reverence for woman that is required to wholeheartedly realise that the mother EARTH and all the women on her is the ultimate gift he has been given to take care of. (Which means listening and learning from her wisdom!). I can see that such a deep rooted insecurity has both intensified and become hidden over the years, to the point where men today (not all but generally), have no idea why they are the way that they are. Threatened by the creator, the mother, because they are entirely confused about who they are and what their purpose is in this world. The more they oppress her the more confused they have become, and they have forgotten the reason behind this confusion: which is ultimately fear of the power of pure creation itself. When a woman expresses herself, when she roars, when she is angry, when she says, writes, or yells how she is feeling - this is the power of pure creation itself, and apparently its the most threatening thing in the world. Just as Llith was when she said “No, I will not lie beneath you” and was consequently banished from the garden of Eden - * Alphabet of ben Sirach (c. 700–1000 CE)
In my wildest imagination, an appropriate and effective ceremony for boys when they have come of age would be to be guided into a large multi layered circle of women from the community, to stand in a small circle mapped out for him in the very centre of all the layers of women, young old and in between, as they slowly walk in a circle, allowing him to see all of their faces and feel all of their strong sacred energy. No smiles of comfort given, no looks of judgement. Only pure love from their hearts met with what I can only imagine would be pure fear of a young boy, would be the magic of this initiation. A lesson of reverence, about what it means to be with the grace of a woman, to know how powerful women are is what it takes for a man to truly know what he IS as a man. A sacred protector in reverent service. For if he knows this in every cell of his body, over time, I think that the rage would begin to quell, and the healing would be profound.
Truthfully, If I could do exactly what is best for me the week before my period, (yes - The whole fucking week). I would stock up on food, lock myself up in my house (or a red tent), turn off my phone, cut the internet connection, and paint, write, do yoga and meditate all day every day. This would be best for me and quite possibly the whole world. Inshallah that is exactly what I am creating... in the meantime I apologise to anyone who has found themselves in the line of fire this week! PMS and grief is a deadly combo...! Forgiving myself, and getting ready for my monthly ritual of shedding releasing and surrendering to the flow of pain and pleasure and all that IS.
17 years world traveller, internationally recognised award winning body painter with a background in Anthropology, Orly delves deep into the enquiry of what it means to be a human being and ceaselessly expresses her art whilst following her heart. , Specialising in mimitism (camouflage), Orly's current expressions are a moving living creative and expansive entity that represents her passion for re-merging humanity with the earth from which we came, sustainable conscious living, healing the sacred feminine as we learn to respect our mother earth and advocacy for balancing commercial gain with global and local contributions.