I Don't Have Sex On My Period, And It Makes Me Feel Like A Bad Feminist

by Zara Barrie

All over the internet, there are hundreds and hundreds of well-written articles in which empowered girl creatures talk openly about period sex.

"Oh, it's natural! I always have sex on my period!"

"It's like natural lubrication."

"Period shaming is SO 1999. I love to have sex on MY period."

"Just because I'm bleeding, doesn't mean I'm not a sexual being with pressing needs and desires!"

For years and years, I've been dutifully reading articles about period sex, with my head hanging in shame.

I want to be that girl. I long to be that girl who uses a fucking eco-friendly Diva Cup and washes it out in the communal bathroom sink at work because I'm so fierce and unashamed about the fact that I bleed.

I long to be the sexually-empowered woman who is so in touch with her own body, she isn't even slightly skeeved out by the blood culminating between her ample thighs. I want to be the girl who doesn't care about getting blood on her white sheets, because sex should always trump everything.

I long to be the sexually-empowered woman who is in touch with her own body.

But I'm not that girl.

In fact, I like my vagina to be pristine, and blood isn't cohesive with my idea of pristine. I'm one of those girls who prefers to be entirely hairless below the belt, too. I use so many lotions, fragrances and ointments that I've been accused of smelling like the Macy's beauty hall — which I find offensive, to be honest.

I want to be prettier than Macy's. I want to be Barney's. Saks Fifth Avenue. At least give me Bloomingdale's!

But I also want to be a badass, riot grrrl feminist, who embraces her inner goddess by having sex on her period. I don't want to be turned off by blood. Most importantly, I don't want to give a shit if my partner is turned off by my blood.

I'm always quiet when the cool girls I know talk about period sex. The truth is, I've only ever really done it once, and the whole time, I was checked out because I was terrified I was going to get blood on her finger. But really, why the hell should I care if I get a little bit of blood on her finger? She bleeds too.

People often have this idea that lesbians are more comfortable with the not-so-pretty parts of their bodies because they aren't affected by the male gaze.

But that's not true. I'm so affected by the male gaze, I don't even know what I look like through a female lens.

Just because I don't sleep with men doesn't mean I'm not affected by gender roles. I'm still a product of the same patriarchal society straight women came from. I still came of age in a world that told me my worth in the world was entirely dependent on how attractive I was to men — and only men.

My sexuality didn't protect me from what I heard boys in the school hallways say about periods.

"Periods are gross," they'd say, their faces scrunching in disgust whenever the subject was brought up in health class.

"Periods smell," they'd say at keg parties when a girl accidentally left a blood stain on a freshly-bleached white sofa.

The shit you hear in adolescence is deeply ingrained in your subconscious, no matter how many times you try to refute those ideas in therapy.

Of course, I consider myself a feminist. You're a dickwad if you don't. But I feel like I've failed at feminism every single time I deny my partner sex because I'm bleeding. I feel like I've fallen victim to the system. I fear that I hate the way it smells only because I was told to hate the way it smells.

I don't even like to have sex on those last few days, when the blood has dwindled down to hardly anything.

I worry that, if periods are the very source of life, and I don't sexually embrace the source of life, I must not truly love myself. And being a good feminist, above all, is about loving yourself for all that you are.

Being a good feminist, above all, is about loving yourself for all that you are.

I want to be a perfect vaginal creature, even though perfection is "boring" and, apparently, doesn't "exist."

But still, I continue to read articles where girls are thrilled to be having period sex. And each time I read them, I close my eyes and travel on the journey of empowerment with the writer.

If I can't get to a place where I'm comfortable enough to have period sex in my own life, I will read about it and live vicariously through the words of these kick-ass, feminist writers. That alone is healing and sort of empowering, too.

So, girls, keep on writing those articles about period sex. Keep on writing about all the things society makes us feel ashamed of that you really love — like your hairy armpits and natural stench (which I'm not quite there with yet, either). There are girls like me out there, who wish they could experience what you're experiencing. And through your words, in a way, they sort of can.