The other day it hit me how a girl’s period is never mentioned in the books I read. Periods have for a long time been a big taboo, a taboo so many people, including myself, are now finally fighting against. I support that so much, and I believe it is a thing we can change. Periods should not be something we women have to hide, but something we should be able to talk openly about. Films and literature have a huge impact on us, we get inspired by fictional characters, so why don’t we include a girls period in books? That would help society to be more comfortable talking about it. Especially YA seems like a good place to start, since it’s readers often are young people, who are very aware of this issue.
I can’t think of a single fiction book that actually mentions periods. The majority of the books I read has a young female protagonist, and it can’t become more evident to include it. I am not asking for long anecdotes about periods, just that it becomes something the protagonist can casually mention. She could complain about her cramps or mention her mood swings or one of her friends could ask her to borrow a pad or tampon. I’m not asking to follow them to the bathroom, but that it becomes something which gets mentioned, just as casually as if the protagonist was hungry.
I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think there are some reasons this isn’t included in YA novels. Firstly it isn’t part of the norm to talk about this topic, and YA might not be the genre that is best at challenging that norm. Secondly our authors are in general much older than us readers, and many of them perhaps aren’t aware that this is something we are fighting for.
With my friends it is more than normal to talk about our periods. I know when my friends have it, and I always complain about my cramps to them. We talk openly about this, and I have been in several discussions with boys about eliminating the tabu. It is so nice to be able to share things like that with your friends, and we need to make our authors aware that it is something we indeed do talk about in our day-to-day life.
When I first talked to my mom about this, she didn’t know how open our generation is about this. She didn’t know how plenty of young women are speaking up about their periods, in addition to remove this taboo. We need to make influential people, like the ones who write our literature, aware of this as well. It will break a norm, when periods begin to be included in our novels, but we need to make this change. It will make our characters more realistic, but most importantly help more people speak up about this issue. It will make girls more comfortable talking about it, and it will educate boys.
Educating boys about this is so important. The majority of them know shit about this, but joking around with it and mocking us for our mood swings, is still something they actively do. Showing how girls still can be badass and awesome, even though they are on their period, could be another great message to send through a book.
We need to talk about this and make everyone aware of the fact that topics like this needs to be included in novels. This discussion has mainly been focused around periods, because that is what I feel the biggest need to bring attention to, but there are plenty of other things, which needs to be included in novels as well. Why does no one talk about blemished skin and people suffering from acne? Or what about people who sweat a lot or have a lot of mood swings? It is all something that many teenagers experience, and it is really important as well.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and get a discussion going in the comments!