That time of the month
It is alway on Sundays that I reflect particularly intense. Like this one where I actually wanted to go to yoga, but instead I am watching old 8mm movies from the past and munch butter cookies. I was quite ambitious, had already packed my sauna towel and sportswear and then it suddenly happened, like every month; my period came. The severe abdominal cramps rained on my parade and I remember when looking at the pictures from the past, my past, that I always preferred to wear pants and play with boys rather than dealing with the subject of my own femininity.
I remember that day so vividly that was supposed to change everything when I ran with water pistols through the bushes of our garden chasing my brother and his friend. It was July, it was hot and the boys were getting rid of their shirts, so I did the same. Suddenly Christian, my brother’s friend, rushed towards me while I splashed my water pistol all over his face and he put the shirt around my shoulders straight away. He said, »You better put this on.« and I replied, »Aye, you’re actually dead.« Disappointed I let the water pistol fall into the grass and looked on my chest where two small bumps changed shape. Insulted, I pulled the shirt over my red curly head and felt excluded. I was sad that I couldn’t seem to walk around topless like my friends in the hot midday heat. I was horrified when I went to the toilet and out of the blue blood was dripping into the toilet bowl. I knew that was the end of a carefree childhood, I would evolve into a woman and never experience all the benefits of being a man. I was mad at my brother and all the boys. A strange expectation that distinguished girls from boys became clear to me early on, but up to that point I could still deny it. It felt like an unpleasant burden that I should carry from now on, whether I wanted to or not. I had to surrender to my fate and slip into a role that I didn’t really like, at least at that time.
I cursed the bleeding and the symptoms that came with it, which left my body every month anew and at the same time paused unpleasantly. »You will get used to it.«, my mother said, and she was right. But back then, however, it was a really bad thought to make friends with these undesirable side effects every month. I’m lucky, my complaints are limited to a few ailments that change my mood and to just one day during the onset of my period of discomfort, when I’d rather stay in bed than go to sports, without any aspirin at all. This is bearable in comparison to other women, some of whom are inhibited for up to a week because severe menstrual pain restricts their quality of life. Endometriosis is the worst disease, a chronic, very painful disease that is almost unbearable and in which some women even have their uterus completely removed in order to regain some normality, but at a high price with the abandonment of their own desire to have children.
Last Friday was International Women’s Day which was a holiday for the first time here in Berlin. Also a topic I reflect on a lot at the moment, while I stroke my belly and watch the carefree scenes from faraway childhood days. What has really changed for women today? Except that independent advertising campaigns dare to dribble a red colored substance on their bandages instead of a sterile blue one and now ask men to give pleasure instead of flowers?
It is still not easy for us to perceive divine femininity as something wonderful. Too many years of stigmatization and shame go along with the vagina and the monthly menstrual blood. Around 200 million girls worldwide have already been circumcised because their sex is considered impure, while the penis, as a symbol of masculinity, is proudly triumphed and its circumcision is even celebrated. It is about women’s rights, not only on International Women’s Day, but every day, especially on the bloody ones, who show us what we sacrifice month after month and endure for many years as an unpleasant permanent condition, after dancing weightlessly through the summer in the garden, free, with our chests out.
It’s no coincidence that I’ve been glorifying the female breast in my photography ever since. This is my kind of rebellion to draw attention to the gender imbalance, which through censorship still shows that this disparity exists, in 2019, right here in front of our eyes.