Period Poops and Politics

Written by Rebekah Frank

I am tired. So damn tired. And it’s not because I have a cold, the heaviest flow I have had in months and the period shits all at once. Nope, that I can take in stride. It’s that while I have a cold and the heaviest flow I have had in months and the period shits I am still stuck fighting. I just need a couple of days off to relax and heal myself and stop dripping fluid from damned near every orifice in my body. But no, this fight still wages on. What fight? The fight against men trying to tell me things they (sometimes intentionally) know not a god damned thing about but think that for some reason their genitalia gives them some level of expertise I could never hope to obtain. It is fucking exhausting.

 

Just real quick, I don’t want you to read this and think that I am some sort of fearless feminist warrior, running headfirst towards every battle, proving my intelligence over and over again by carefully formulated take downs. Not even close. I am a woman filled with the same self doubt as all other women, trying to make my way in a world where my opinions are constantly questioned, my reasoning and intelligence doubted by default. I am a woman who was taught to always protect the feelings of others before my own, to deescalate even if it means ceding a point I know to be right. A woman who was raised to provide emotional support to those who would never return the favor, to soften my words with phrases such as “I feel as though” and “I might be wrong, but.” I am a woman like all other women who has to fight against her socialized instincts to instill in others the fact that we are here, that we are strong as fuck and that we are a force to be reckoned with.

 

This past year and change has been especially exhausting. During the Democratic primaries I found myself in this weird position of having to “break the news” to some of my peers that I was not an avid Bernie Sanders supporter and that I would be casting my ballot for Hillary Clinton. This decision, by the way, was made over weeks, after hours of discussions with friends about the two candidates policy positions, what we thought they could achieve in office, their electability, etc. It was not a decision I made lightly. And yet I found I had to fend off accusations that I was only voting for Hillary because she was a woman. It was incredibly insulting. It insinuated that I was soemotional about the possibility of a woman holding the highest office in the land that I was incapable of making an informed and rational decision about how I would vote. It was basically the same old argument that people have been making for decades: that women are too hormonal to be able to run the government (or hold other important positions, for that matter). The blowback that I received for my decision turned me harder against Sanders, largely because for months he did not deem calling out the misogyny coming from his supporters worthy of his time. I do not hold candidates responsible for the actions of their most vehement supporters but I do expect them to speak out when this sort of wide spread behavior – because my experience was in no way unique – begins to bleed from the extremes and wind its way throughout the campaign. It took him too long and that made me worry about how he might deal with issues of misogyny and racism if he were to advance further.

 

I know that some of you, if you have even made it this far, might have been turned off by my negative words about BernieSanders but please, listen to my point. You can reject it, but at least hear it. Because this specific point I am making is a lot less about him and a lot more about us as a society. What I experienced in the primaries was more of the same of what I have experienced my entire life: my opinion being second-guessed because I am female. I have been bullied a half dozen times in the last week alone – whether in person or on the internet – by men who have made unsupported claims and then responded to my well-reasoned and well-researched responses with more unsupported claims. I have been told not to be fooled by those saying that there is no misogyny on the far left, a claim that I didn’t make and never would make because my experience tells me otherwise. I would count myself an expert in very few things but I am certainly an expert in experiencing misogyny so hands off that one, I got it covered.

 

So I don’t know, dear readers. It’s been hard. It’s been hard and it’s been exhausting and it’s been hurtful. And if I’m being completely honest it just keeps hurting and I don’t see it stopping any time soon. Every time I see discussion arising around a female candidate for president – be it Kamala Harris orElizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand – it is immediately shot down by people who claim they want to see a female president but say simply “she is not the one.” And then, when people pointout the fact that no politician is perfect and that women are simply held to a higher standard, they are instructed that playing the sexism card is not a good idea and that that tactic will not play to the standard bearer, ie. white men. And meanwhile we sit here watching as Trump continues to be president and the DNC makes moves to support anti-choice candidates and we wonder if we even matter, we wonder if we ever did. At least I do. And the thing is that it is coming from all directions. We are seeing growing vitriol from the right and the left and meanwhile at this very moment, yes while I write this blog post, I am arguing with white men about the ways in which they are misinterpreting an article I posted because their interpretation clearly must be right because it is they who are the norm, it is their opinions that have been proven over the centuries to be the ones that matter. And I am saying the same things over and over and over again and it just goes nowhere. I think I might explode.

 

SoI am going to stop now. If you need me, I will be blowing my nose and changing my tampon for what feels like the 50th time today. (Update: the period shits have ceased, for now. Maybe there is a god.)

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Rebekah Frank

She'll tell you how it is

Rebekah Frank strikes again! Making sense like she always do!