A few weeks ago, two of my good friends were talking. One of them said something about ancient Jewish menstrual huts.
I, being naive (and obviously not Jewish), said, “Oooh! I want a menstrual hut!” My mind filled with visions of a hot tub, soft blue curtains, bowls heaped with chocolate, someone available to make meals for me, pain relievers, a massage therapist on hand, quiet soothing music, and no annoying people whatsoever.
Heh. Little did I know.
I was about as far off as one can get and still be in some realm of reality. Actual “menstrual huts” were isolated tents with no comforts whatsoever where women on their periods were forced to go until they stopped being too unclean to touch.
I’d like to go back to my reality, thanks muchly.
In “The Body Sacred”, there’s almost a whole chapter on menses and our varied (and typically negative) reaction to our bodies and their cycles. It’s not just men who hate, fear, and misunderstand the menstrual cycle – we do it nearly as often.
I’m guilty of it myself. I used to hate getting my period. I would dread it beforehand and bemoan my sorry fate during. I would whine and complain. I would rejoice when my cycles were wonky and irregular because it meant I wouldn’t have a period every month.
This, while a fairly common reaction, isn’t fair to my body.
The menstrual cycle is nothing short of miraculous. It’s a shared experience that could bring us connection and community instead of even further isolating us – all we have to do is stop not talking about it.
Women of all ages and experiences have something to share in this: pre-menstrual girls would benefit from knowledge of what lies ahead and the gift of being able to talk freely about our bodies, menstrual women could share in their varied experiences, pregnant woman need community more when pregnant and during birth and with a newborn than ever, menopausal woman could share experiences on what’s to come and share the wisdom that comes with age, and women without cycles would benefit from sharing their own experiences as well as sharing in those of others. Even our men would benefit from sharing in our bodily processes; gaining understanding and respect and admiration for what our bodies do and can handle would bring them closer to the women in their lives.
Instead of being ashamed or embarrassed, relishing in the miracles of our bodies and sharing in our experiences brings us together. It makes us stronger. It reminds us that we truly are sacred, in all our messy wacky ways.
So now I’m seriously considering building my vision of a Menstrual Hut, or at least starting up a women’s circle where we could take turns pampering and supporting each other – building community and honoring our selves and our bodies.