March 6 is the opening of FLOW: The Menstruation Exhibition, curated by Virginia Eichhorn at THEMUSEUM.I have been fortunate to work with THEMUSEUM and the Diva Cup to conceptualize and bring to life this exhibition.
As those of you who read my column know, menstruation is a topic I hold near and dear. I can visualize a world where menstruation is discussed openly and honestly, with no stigma, shame, confusion or negativity. A world where everyone is educated at a young age about the reasons people menstruate, the cyclical nature of menstruation, and the intricate workings of our bodies. A world where period poverty does not exist and is replaced with menstrual equity, ensuring everyone has access to the menstrual care products they need and deserve in order to live with dignity.
I work every day to make this a reality in our community.As an educator, I talk to many people, young and old, of all genders, about menstruation. As I have mentioned many times before, young people should be educated about menstruation before menstruation happens. I have heard far too many stories about children thinking they are dying, have cancer or are injured, because they did not know what a period was. This is unacceptable.
I have heard far too many people talk about periods as gross, disgusting or dirty. We all have bodily functions and fluids. This is how our bodies do what they need to do. We all pee, we all poo, we all have runny noses and ear wax. Menstruation is another bodily fluid. A fluid leaving the body to cleanse the uterus and allow it to regrow to protect a potential pregnancy – how is this gross?
Or does it seem dirty because not everyone menstruates and the people who do often identify as girls and women? How might our attitudes and conversations change if people with penises menstruated?
The bleeding, ovulation and growth of the menstrual cycle allows for reproduction to happen. Without this cycle, none of us would be here. Without a protective uterine home for the first months of our lives, none of us would survive. Menstruation brings life.
And that is why it deserves its own exhibition. The exhibit will be open until May 28 — Menstrual Hygiene day — I invite you to take an hour and enjoy the art, education and discussion of FLOW.
What else can you do? Donate menstrual care products (tampons, pads, menstrual cups) to your local Food Bank. The price of admission for your next event can be a donation of a menstrual care product. Educate yourself and others about menstruation, period poverty and menstrual equity.
Ask your place of employment/place you volunteer/places you frequent, to stock menstrual care products in all washrooms. They are a necessity just like toilet paper, tissue and paper towels. And simply talk about menstruation openly and respectfully as the natural bodily function that it is.
For more information visit THEMUSEUM’s website.
Stacey Jacobs is the sexual health educational manager at SHORE.
Stacey Jacobs has been a Sex Educator for almost 2 decades. For 13 of those years she worked as a Sexual Health Educator at Planned Parenthood. She teaches in the Sexuality, Marriage and Family Studies Program at the University of Waterloo and when not educating, she enjoys reading, walking her dogs and eating good food. The life of a Sex Educator is usually not as interesting as people assume.