Guest Post by Katherine H., Eastern Washington University
One of the first contact points with feminism I had was through learning about wimmin’s health. I’ll refer to the topic in this way for the sake of simplicity, but I do recognize that some men menstruate and have other concerns related to having female anatomy. My main concerns were with menstruation and birth control, especially after I found the more mainstream methods of approaching those issues weren’t working for me. I was led to a lot of resources that might not have explicitly called themselves feminist, but were clearly promoting an approach that didn’t fall into the norm of “don’t touch it, don’t look at it, and definitely don’t try to understand it because the doctor always knows best.”
Feelings of frustration developed as I began noticing the ways wimmin were being deceived and pathologized by the people who were supposed to be helping them, and by society as a whole. The stories I read followed many of the same patterns, primarily wimmin who didn’t know about their bodies and were thus able to be misled in various ways or reasons, or wimmin who did know about their bodies but were discredited and disregarded by their health care providers.
And anyway, what benefit is there in providing education on how to manage their periods without disposable products, deal with yeast infections without antibiotic pills, keep track of their fertility, bring on late periods using natural methods, do kegels for reasons other than to “please your man,” etc. to the people who capitalize on the mystification surrounding these subjects?
In case it isn’t clear, I absolutely do not want to imply that anyone should go out and buy a menstrual cup, and a speculum, and throw away their birth control pills, and start using the fertility awareness method of birth control, and stop going to the doctor (if you already do) in order to escape the chains of oppression by big, bad, white male gynecologists or whatever you want to call this system. I also don’t want to imply that people who aren’t comfortable with their bodies are somehow not enlightened or open-minded enough, or should push past their discomfort or potential dysphoria for any reason.
What I do think is that having 1) a choice in how to respond to our bodies’ needs, and 2) sufficient, objective information with which to make that choice, is one of the most basic rights we should be afforded. Since that isn’t always the case, seeking out that information independently is a nice alternative and allows you to become educated enough to draw your own conclusions about what is right for you.
Below is a list of resources that have helped me and might help you out, too.