There is a beloved children's book series by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond, which includes titles like, "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" and "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie."
Each story starts out along the lines of, "If you give a pig a pancake, she'll want some syrup to go with it..." So on and so forth.
The pig story escalates into the pig needing a bubble bath, and then eventually, the little homesick ham needs some consoling. They're adorable books, aren't they? You're probably remembering them fondly right now, aren't you?
Well, I'm about to ruin that for you. (I can't say I feel sorry about it.)
I dream of a world where a sardonically written, painfully detailed book entitled, "If You Give a Man a Period" graces the shelves of my local Barnes & Noble. Weird? Let me explain.
If a man pisses me off in a very "she's probably over-emotional because she's menstruating" kind of way, I want sweet, sweet revenge immediately. I don't hyperbolically wish death upon him, or hope he ends up trapped in a loveless marriage, or even fantasize about castrating him.
Rather, if a man pisses me off in such a way, I pray that he gets the lovely chance to menstruate. Dear assh*les, cheaters, homophobes, anti-feminists and general supporters of evil and hate in this world, meet your long-lost Uncle Flo.
Here's my stance: I don't enjoy living in a world where tampons are considered a luxury. I also oftentimes (admittedly, usually when I'm on my period) get very annoyed when my guy friends immaturely joke about, get freaked out by or shame menstruation in any way.
Quite frankly, men just don't get it.
Look, I get it; feminism has saturated the Internet. We've now, generally speaking, made it clear that life for a woman is different — though, not better or worse — than life for a man.
Humans are individuals, each with his or her own unique idiosyncrasies. It only makes sense that in order to survive together on this Earth peacefully, we must accept that we are all different and express empathy toward one another.
The goal of gender equality isn't to prove that one sex is more important than the other or vice versa; it's the acknowledgement that while we are all different, we are also all the same. We are human. Gender equality is an exercise in respect and empathy.
I'm not saying that all men are awful people who never try to understand what it's like to be on your period — that would be very untrue. There are many men who are very understanding of how much it sucks to menstruate. There are also, however, many men who aren't aware. This hypothetical is targeted toward those men.
So, empathetically speaking, in the vein of Laura Joffe Numeroff, let's explore, hypothetically, what it would be like if it weren't women who menstruated. Let's look at what would happen if you gave a man a period:
If you give a man a period...
... he'll freak the f*ck out and feel upset that his prized genitals are experiencing what's happening. He'll probably (unfortunately) be wearing white pants. He'll feel embarrassed that all of his friends and his current crush saw.
So, he'll run home in a hurry. He'll Google it before consulting his physician. The results will freak him out.
He'll have to purchase weird hygiene products that are probably over-priced and definitely uncomfortable. Then, he'll spend random, recurring chunks of his day worrying about having TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), like a hypochondriac noob.
He'll really hate that this will happen 12 times per year for the next handful of decades of his life. He'll also be really confused by how his gentleman bits are capable of bringing him such pleasure and utter terror, depending on the calendar date and activity.
When he gets older and is menstruating, his girlfriend might want to have sex with him. He'll decline for fear that she might be disgusted. He'll pretty much feel every emotion at once — because he's on his period.
He'll really hate that, though a pill exists to remedy the intensity and frequency of his period, a panel full of the other gender, which has never experienced his penis's monthly hell, will decide whether or not he'll be able to access said pill. (Remember when?)
For the rest of his life, if he shows any type of heightened emotion, whether warranted or not, his female friends will wonder if it's because he's on his period. It will be devilishly condescending. The stigma will quite likely follow him into the workplace. He will hate it.
Once a month, he'll experience raging cramps, forgetfulness that will be interpreted as ditziness, bloating that dictates whether or not he'll fit into his favorite jeans and the inexplicable desire to hammer someone's head into a wall just because he or she looked at him the wrong way.
Once a month, he'll experience a number of days of intense pain that, if expressed to his non-period experiencing female friends, will quite possibly be written off with disgust or blatant disinterest.
I believe, if you give a man a period...
... he'd understand that tampons are not a luxury. He wouldn't make denigrating PMS jokes. He wouldn't use the word "crazy" to describe someone's valid emotions. He wouldn't make his partner feel unsexy during said partner's monthly cycle.
He'd be empathetic because he'd have experienced the male version of vaginal hell.
If you give a man a period, he just might understand that a period is something about which a woman should not feel ashamed or the need to hide. He'd understand that a period is not a gross thing that girls do once a month, but a part of our biological makeup. If you give a man a period, he'll just understand.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It