Teen Boy to Men Everywhere: Grow Up, Girls’ Periods Aren’t Gross
It’s been 31 years since the teen flick Sixteen Candles made the line “We don’t want to announce to everyone that she’s gotten her period!” part of the cultural parlance. But according to 15-year-old high school student Jose Garcia, too many teen boys and men still have “the idea that menstruation is some monstrosity.”
“I believe that such a natural thing should not be frowned upon by teenage boys. I think that teen girls should be able to ask for a tampon like I ask for a pencil,” he wrote in an email.
That’s why in late March the Miami teenager took to social media to launch #RealMenSupportWomen, an effort that encourages guys to start carrying feminine hygiene products in case the girls in their lives need one.
“If you have a girlfriend or are friends with a girl, u should know that they do not always have tampons or pads on them, or that sometimes their period just hits them without notice and have a bit of a problem finding one,” wrote Garcia on his initial Instagram post.
“You are completely welcomed to ask me for a pad at any time without receiving a negative response or a dirty look. We should all help each other out like this so you don’t have to thank me at all. #realmensupportwomen,” continued Garcia.
Garcia says he took to Instagram because he was tired of seeing his male peers being disgusted by girls who needed a pad or tampon. He used the phrase “real men” in the hashtag as an effort to call out boys he knows “who brag about their muscles and ‘trophy girlfriends’ but freak out when a girl is on her period and will most likely not want to be near her,” he wrote.
In some parts of the world, teenage girls are explicitly told to never discuss menstruation with their male peers, or even with their brothers or fathers. The stigma may not be as severe in most American families, but a growing number of feminists are determined to end the shame that many girls and women feel every month.
These menstrual activists “begin by thinking, wait a minute! Do we have to regard our period as something dirty? Do we have to greet a girl’s first period with silence? And then they get interested in challenging that,” Chris Bobel, associate professor of women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, told The Guardian in March.
Garcia’s post has been liked more than 23,000 times, and he’s gotten plenty of encouragement on Facebook and Twitter. Since his post, two other teen boys at his high school have begun stashing just-in-case tampons and pads in their backpacks. Other guys have let him know through Twitter and Tumblr that they’re going to start trying to help girls out like this too.
Garcia understands that there may still be guys out there who “may feel weird” about menstruation. Whether they take up his challenge or not, it’s time for boys to “grow up and realize that most of the women around them go through it,” he wrote.