#MenstruationMatters. Period.

By Bhushan Salunke
The Devil’s Advocate, serving you a cocktail of humour, wit and sarcasm

When I came across the news item about Zomato—one of India’s biggest food delivery companies—having decided to provide all its female employees with ten days of “period or menstruation leave” a year, I was excited for Xena, my feminist acquaintance. She would be over the moon when she hears about this.

Xena, whose original name was Shanti (meaning “peace”), is a hard-core, fourth-wave wave, militant feminist. She changed her name from Shanti to Xena, to honour her heroine, Xena the Warrior Princess, of the TV serial fame. Fourth-wave feminists are the Al-Qaeda of the feminism movement. They are a privileged lot, highly educated, shrill and vocal. They live in cyberspace and use social media to wage their wars with the help of hashtags, articles, posts and blogs. Their ultimate goal is to smash patriarchy and establish matriarchy. Even the 2nd wave and 3rd wave feminists have distanced themselves from their radical views.

I decided to break this sensational news to Xena. I called her and excitedly told her about the new development in the gender equality war.

There was a pregnant silence at the other end. “Hey Xena. Are you there?” I asked. I could sense Xena was outraged. She growled, “Did a man come up with this stupid idea?”. She was right. It was the brainchild of Mr. Goyal, CEO of Zomato.

Xena went on a bloody rampage. “Why are men so obsessed with menstruation? Is it because the word has “men” in it? Why do men interfere in women-affairs? Do they think that women can’t look after themselves and we always need a man’s strong shoulder to cry on? Do men still think that they are knights in shining armour, rescuing distressed damsels?

“I hate men, but I hate these “male feminists” even more. Did women ask this man, Arunachalam Muruganantham, alias Padman, to invent low-cost sanitary pads for us women? Bollywood made a celebrity out of him by making a movie about him”.

“Bollywood is full of male feminists too. People like Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar make women-centric movies but with the man leading the way for women to follow. They are just using women to cash in at the box office. After Aamir made his Dangal movie, how many girls have taken up wrestling? How many Indian women have gone into space after Mission Mangal? But when it came to the crunch at the peak of #MeToo movement in India, these buggers were quiet as church mice”.

“What about Mr. Kejriwal, of the Aam Admi party, who gives free bus rides and reserved seats to women? Does he think empowered women like us can’t afford to buy bus tickets? This same guy does not have a single woman in his cabinet. What a hypocrite!”

“This Zomato thingy will set women’s cause back to the Stone Age. As it is, menstruation is a taboo subject. Menstruating women are banished to dark corners of the house, not to be seen by the others. They live in isolated quarantine until the end of the menstruation. This same treatment is reinforced by this idiotic Zomato “period leave”. Zomato seems to say, “Hey bleeding women. We don’t want you to be coming into the office on your cranky bleeding days and stain our carpets and chairs. Stay at home, don’t participate in the workplace as a normal person and come back after your business is finished.” So, it just strengthens the prejudice that women are weak and vulnerable when menstruating and they need to be handled with kid gloves by giving them special care and leave.

Xena continued: “Has this chap not seen Whisper sanitary napkin advertisements on TV in which the woman, wearing the napkin, is exuding confidence, power and is all smiles, even enjoying her period and looking forward to the next one? So why do women need “period leave”? All this chauvinist guy needs to do is to supply free sanitary napkins in the office, if he can, and women will get on with it.

“Why is he giving only 10 days of “period leave”? Does he not know that women have periods every month? Men will now snigger behind women’s backs on “period leave” days and they will come to know about our body clocks. This is a breach of privacy.

“This will set a bad precedent and will encourage men to ask leave on “man flu” days or when they get the bleeds too, after a paper cut incident in the office.

“Feminists want women to be treated equal to men, not as some fragile commodities. This

Zomato move goes against the grain of gender equality we feminists are fighting for.”

I thought it was not the right time to bring up another great gender equality initiative. Recently, the Mumbai city installed women figures on traffic lights at pedestrian crossings. Mr. Kiran Dighavkar, assistant commissioner with Mumbai’s municipal corporation, said: “The city believes in gender equality and promotes women’s empowerment. This is just the start.”

I could not help myself but tell Xena about the female figures on Mumbai traffic lights. She flew into another fit of rage, “Yet another male feminist stealing the show and thunder of female feminist? What’s this going to do for women? Let them cross the pedestrian crossing first? I hate these bleeding hearts.”

The phone line was running hot. I knew Xena’s blood was boiling and that she was bleeding, for her cause. I decided to get off before I got a bloody nose from Xena.

In passing, Zomato has assured customers there will be no disruption to their food delivery services since all the delivery guys are men.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author

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