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In the depths of my bathroom cupboard you will find a dainty, drawstring cloth bag containing a menstrual cup. I was given the cup a few months back after approaching a charity, which provided free menstrual cups in exchange for its users spreading awareness of its benefits.
Conversations around menstruation tend to be shrouded in negativity due to the negative connotations of blood leaving the vagina — namely notions of dirt and impurity. However, the stigma attached to the physical act of inserting certain sanitary products, is not as frequently highlighted. This is because of the supposed breakage of the hymen — the thin piece of tissue surrounding the vagina opening — heavily associated with your virginity status.
This belief in virginity is intricately woven into slut shaming because of the huge sense of purity and femininity attached to the maintenance of the hymen. Listening to general snippets of negative menstrual discourse that has been raised as I grew up, I also gathered the impression that there exists the false belief of menstrual cups consequently changing the shape of the vagina which again, pertains to beliefs relating to impurity and slut shaming.
Virginity is seen as something that is bestowed upon a cis man and therefore a reason to protect the hymen. However, is important to note that sometimes, no amount of criticism and acknowledgment of myths, can override the process of internalising negative attitudes. Despite knowing that what underpins it are myths surrounding virginity and slut shaming, which of course have zero validity.
As someone of the British South Asian diaspora who understands the poor reasoning behind negative attitudes so deeply held toward the way in which we control our period, I believe there needs to be more emphasis on highlighting how damaging menstrual myths can be - particularly for the sake of young girls who are yet to deal with experiencing periods. Copyright to Peatree Productions Ltd. I saw immediately how a product designed to make women feel more at ease with their menses is associated with the concept of marriage which in turn, highlights the deeply embedded and problematic nature of another one: virginity.