As you probably already heard, this weekend in a CNN interview, presidential candidate Donald Trump complained about Megyn Kelly, a co-moderator of the Republican debate, asking him a question about misogynistic and sexist statements he’s made about women in the past. These statements are on record. I’ve heard them. You’ve probably heard them. There’s no denying he said them publically–and repeatedly. And Trump, himself, doesn’t deny saying them.
However, Trump felt that Kelly asking him this question in a presidential debate was “unfair” and “vicious”. And in the CNN interview this is how he characterized Kelly’s demeanor as she asked him her question:
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”
I, like many other folks, understood that the “wherever” he was referring to was Kelly’s uterus and that she must have been having her period.
Trump later denied this is what he meant and tweeted that he meant “nose”.
Now, I just want to let you know I’m also not very politically correct. I can enjoy an off-color joke that pokes fun at whatever group I belong to. And I find it sad that Jerry Seinfeld and other comedians won’t appear at college campuses because today’s students get so easily offended.
I also want to let you know I have no boxers in this presidential fight. I’m a registered Independent, which for folks who live outside the U.S. means I don’t belong to any political party. I vote based on issues, not parties.
So, while also keeping in my that I write about hormones day and night, I still don’t think I’m being very biased when I say that I don’t buy for a second that Trump meant to imply “nose”. I think it’s fairly clear that he was referring to menstruation.
And, while I will chuckle at the occasional period joke, I don’t think it’s ever okay for any person–male or female–to suggest that a woman must be menstruating if you don’t like what she has to say.
And it’s downright unforgivable for someone who’s a presidential candidate to do so.
When someone suggests you must be menstruating because of something you said, what the person really means is…
“You make a valid point that doesn’t make me look good, but it’s one I can’t defend. So, I’m going to stoop to insulting you in the crassest way possible to end the conversation.”
It’s a way of silencing the woman. Of infantilizing her. Of saying she is too hormonal and, therefore, irrational to be taken seriously.
I’m talking about this issue today because, well, let’s face it, if I didn’t you’d probably wonder why. But, also because I want to propose that you and I can help end this kind of pervasive “period blaming”.
How? Let’s start with the facts:
From my Hormonology Tips and the studies I link to, you can see that it’s a myth that all women are angry and weepy 24/7 during their period.
The truth is that your estrogen rises throughout your period, which puts an end to premenstrual edginess and the blues. And, the higher this hormone climbs day by day throughout the first week of your cycle, the better your mood becomes. And, when you get menstrual cramps and fatigue reined in, your period week is actually a happy one. I know mine is.
However, this moody period myth is regurgitated over and over on TV, in movies, in jokes told by others–and now by a campaigning U.S. presidential candidate.
We can also be guilty of period blaming ourselves. Just last week, I devoted two Hormonology posts to this very topic (this one and this one). For a few moments, I found myself blaming my period for a foul mood. But, when I thought about it, I quickly realized my mood was really related to discomfort from an aching back and recent oral surgery. When I got those pains under control, I was back to enjoying the upbeat mood my rising estrogen was triggering during my period week.
With this in mind, I’d like to suggest that when it comes to stopping this kind of period blaming, we start with ourselves: The next time you’re tempted to blame your period for being irritated or frustrated or foggy-headed or down, stop. Think about what else could be causing the problem–maybe stress, fatigue or too little food–then fix it.
If we stop period blaming, it makes it easier to get others to stop it, too.
Which leads me to how you can help stop others from blaming your behavior on your period.
The next time someone suggests that something you said is because you must be menstruating, don’t let it slide. Remember that it just means whatever you said is something the person doesn’t like and can’t rebut–and they’re embarrassed to be caught out and just want the conversation to end with you being the embarrassed one.
So, don’t let the conversation stop there. Tell the person, “My brain came up with my question, not my uterus. But, both would really like an answer.” Or something to that effect. The point is to not let it silence you.
When more and more of us confront period blaming and try to curtail it, we can eventually stop it from being so commonplace, and hopefully eventually from occurring at all.
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