So you may have seen on social media over the last few days that Kiran Gandhi, who has played drums for singer M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation, decided to run the London Marathon without a tampon.Gandhi says she let her blood flow freely to raise awareness about women who have no access to feminine products and to encourage women to not be embarrassed about their periods...
'I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don't have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn't exist.'" - Kiran Gandhi
Lots of people tagged me up in it, 'what do you think, Lisa?' + in some online groups that I'm a part of it there was some fierce debate going on. (When I say 'fierce debate' what I ACTUALLY mean is mucky arguments that lacked of respect for others opinions + points of view, but I'll get to that in a moment.)
Here's what I think. I have BIG love for M.I.A. I have BIG love for ANYONE that runs a marathon. I have CRAZY-BIG love for any woman running a marathon on her period, because personally, despite what the latest Always advert (yep, still with the obligatory blue water) will have me believe, being able to 'keep going' + 'do life like a dude' when I'm on my period is not a hugely desirable thing for me to do. So, I am bloody high fiving Kiran. What's been WAY more interesting than what I think about her doing it, has been the reaction to it, from other women. There were a lot of 'ick' and 'ewww' comments at the notion of Kiran bleeding through her lycra running pants, lots of 'eugggh, that's gross' and 'why did she have to do that?' along with a whole lot of hatred about the whole act of menstruation itself. And do you know what? I get it. We've been taught for over 2,000 years to hate on ourselves as women, and being denied the power of our menstrual cycle - not just our bleed but the entire cycle - is a MASSIVE part of that. I talk about this in my book Code Red, the reason so many of us suffer infertility, PCOS, Endometriosis, heavy bleeding is because we're not taught how to tune into our needs + wants + desires in each phase of the cycle, to understand our powers in each phase. Instead, we want to ignore our bleed/ wish it wasn't happening/stuff it with a tampon/see it as an inconvenience. I've said this a gazillion times, but it's never not relevant, the fact I bleed for 5 (or however many days you bleed) each month and don't die, I think makes me a freakin' super-hero and something to be celebrated. Yes it can be painful, and if you're suffering pain, then look deeper, it's our body's biggest messenger as to what's going on in our body, It's taken 10 years of lady landscape exploration to get to that place of fierce love for my previously fucked ovaries + womb + all the crazy shiz - pain/emotion/anxiety about leaving the house that goes with it, but if you don't dig on the fact you bleed + honour the shit out of it, I believe you're denying yourself your biggest super power as a woman, it's why I do the work I do. This is part of our SHE Story + THESE #bloodyconversations matter.
I don't think anyone is wrong for thinking blood is gross. We've grown up with TV adverts that turn our blood blue. We've probably had to whisper about our period at one point, through fear of offending or embarrassing ourselves or those around us. There's absolutely NO rule book stating what's the wrong + right way to think about bleeding + menstruation, but what's NOT cool, is that yesterday, in two online forums, women were having mucky, not-thought-through arguments + making disrespectful comments to each other. It was a virtual blood bath, which was ironic (in the ACTUAL sense of the word, not in the Alanis Morrisette way) as most of them were ick-ing out over...y'know, blood. When I explained the work that I do + why I do it, I got told 'you are perpetuating the myth that feminists are just obsessed with talking about periods' - which I thought was funny, because I was also told 'you're setting feminism back years by encouraging women to rest at their period.' Which is a whole OTHER #bloodyfeministconversation entirely, but my point is, with bigoted + misogynistic dudes like Donald Trump using the fact women bleed as an insult on a national platform, we do NOT need to be turning on each other.
Look, it's this simple. For me, it seems a big fucking shame that menstrual blood is viewed in a negative way as it's literally the guts of ladykind, our life force and for that, I believe it should be honoured + respected each + every time we bleed. But that's just MY opinion. Can we not just take in a big deep breath, and have open + honest #bloodyconversations? Ones that involves meeting each other where we are, without the name-calling or trying to prove each other right or wrong?
What do YOU think? I'd LOVE to know your thoughts on Kiran, on your reaction to period blood, on any, or all of what I've talked about today - let's have a #bloodyconversation