Culture

11 Reasons To Stop Referring To Women As “People Who Menstruate”

By Andrea Mew
·  9 min read
shutterstock 1907189821 (1)

I was under the impression that feminism had spent years making sure women feel visible in society, yet now we’re becoming more erased than ever before.

Menstruation isn’t gross or dirty. The ebb and flow of hormones, producing a monthly bleed, is a normal aspect of what it means to be a healthy female human being. This is not to say that we have to pretend that blood, bloating, discomfort, pain, and emotional changes are just peaches and cream. No, free-bleeding in public and period-blood art still isn’t chill, but we also shouldn’t reinforce further shame about our bodies by reducing ourselves to our internal organs. 

Lately, I can’t help but notice that many in our society refuse to define or acknowledge what a “woman” is anymore and instead have grown bizarrely enamored with gross labels like “bleeders” or “uterus havers.” Aside from the fact that it’s extremely offensive, there are countless other reasons why we shouldn’t be replacing “women” with whacky labels, so I’ll detail 11 of them for you.

1. Because You’re Dehumanizing Women, Point Blank

I’ll address the elephant in the room. I thought by 2022, we would be above dehumanizing language. At this point, I thought that we embraced the fact that all men and women are created equal! We’re long past archaic and problematic beliefs like slaves counting as only three-fifths of a person or wartime propaganda that suggested enemies were bestial animals. 

natalie-wood-im-not-an-animal

Yet to this day, we’re supposed to accept demeaning language that strips women of their humanity and dignity? Menstrual product brands resorting to language like “bleeders” instead of…I don’t know…women is borderline dystopian.

I can think of a very different “B” word that often gets used to describe women, other than bleeders. Both are derogatory and used to put women down. Would academia or the medical industry feel comfortable using that one? Didn’t think so.

If I hear someone call me a “host” because of my birthing capabilities, I might actually lose it. Or maybe “host” instead of “woman” is preferable because they want to call our babies “parasites” in an effort to normalize the systemic, purposeful murder of unborn children. Hey, it’s okay that it was 32 weeks along…it was just a parasite in the host!

Dehumanization can manifest in many different ways, but it’s always reducing a person to one characteristic, whether or not that characteristic is negative. Feminist gender studies professor Sandra Bartky actually got it quite right in her 1990 book Femininity and Domination where she pointed out that “a person is sexually objectified when her sexual parts or sexual functions are separated out from the rest of her personality & reduced to the status of mere instruments or else regarded as if they were capable of representing her.” So whether we’re separating out breasts, vaginas, or uteruses, it’s all dehumanizing. 

This includes the new language guide from The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine called “Suggested Terms in Breastfeeding and Human Lactation.” Traditional terms like breast milk are outdated and now doctors are encouraged to use inclusive terminology like “human milk feeding,” or get this, “father’s milk.”

My takeaway? Even male terms are more preferable to female terms. Sounds a lot like blatant sexism to me, but what do I know?

2. Because You’re Pandering to a Very Niche Group, and for What?

We get that you want to be inclusive to transgender men who are supposed to be in the process of transitioning from female to male. During this time, they might still experience the menstrual cycles they’ve been getting since puberty. 

However, when only 0.5% of the entire U.S. adult population identifies as transgender (regardless of whether or not they’re undergoing medical transition), who are you really speaking to when you use this gender-neutral language? The small group of adult consumers out there to whom you’re marketing these products? Or are you trying to influence younger minds?

guilty-kim-kardashian

3. Because You’re Giving Mixed Signals to Young Generations

The New York Times published a piece about menstruation, writing that “New menstruators often turn to a parent for products and advice.”

In a response piece, Madeleine Kearns from the National Review called out the refusal to gender the young woman having her first period (new menstruator) as well as her mother (a parent). She said, “If the story is about young women who aren’t embarrassed to talk about their periods, then perhaps you, the writer, shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about young women.”

Maybe we would be able to ditch the dreaded period stigma if we stopped making the conversation as uncomfortable as possible at every turn! Instead, we’re rewriting the dictionary and causing confusion.

channing tatum so confused right now

4. Because We’re Not a Baseball or a Phlebotomist

Across the pond, the term “bleeder” is actually considered a rude way of referring to someone, according to Oxford English Dictionaries. Cambridge English Dictionary gives us a pleasant little real-life example with “Children? I can't stand the little bleeders!”

But here in America, “bleeder” typically means someone who bleeds abnormally like a hemophiliac, someone who drains another person of their money or resources, a phlebotomist (a.k.a. those people who draw your blood at a lab), or in the case of America’s favorite pastime, baseball, a bleeder is a weak ground ball that barely allows the runner to run to base in enough time.

leagueoftheirown-signlangu

5. Because There’s Such a Thing As Missing Periods

Call any woman struggling with amenorrhea a “bleeder” and you might be subjecting yourself to wrath. Amenorrhea, or the absence of menstruation, can appear due to hormonal imbalances from things like PCOS, thyroid malfunctions, pituitary tumors, low body weight, pregnancy, overexercise, stress, medications, and of course, oral contraceptives. 

There’s an immense amount of psychological stress that young women face when dealing with amenorrhea, especially because it can indicate infertility or lead to miscarriages and complications in future pregnancies.

So you really can’t replace the term woman with a “person who menstruates” because she might not even be able to at this moment in time! Especially if a woman recently got that one vaccination

i-didnt-say-it-blameless

6. Because Some Women Literally Aren’t “Uterus Owners” Anymore

Whether or not it’s total or partial, thanks to conditions like uterine fibroids, cervical or uterine cancer, uterine prolapse, and many more, almost 300,000 American women undergo a hysterectomy to remove their uterus every year. For context, that makes hysterectomies the second most common surgery for American women after C-sections.

seinfeld-elaine science talking

7. Because All Women Actually Age out of Their Monthly Bleeding

Nope, menopause isn’t a disorder or a disease, it’s a normal transition in a woman’s life that signals the end of her monthly cycles. When a middle-aged woman is having hot flashes, pain during sex, mood disturbances, trouble sleeping, and many other symptoms including changes in her period, she may be experiencing perimenopause. 

sonja-morgan-sonja-rhony

This signals the end of monthly menstrual cycles, so at a certain age, “period havers” suddenly don’t have their period anymore. How can you justify terminology like this when all women eventually stop producing the hormones that cause us to bleed in the first place?

8. Because You’re Not Really Using “Prostate Owner,” Are You?

Tell me you’re trying to erase the female identity without telling me you’re trying to erase the female identity. Sure, it’s trendy and inclusive to say “vagina owner” but where are all of the swaps for “prostate owner”? Right…didn’t think so.

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9. Because You’re Not Just Erasing Modern “Eurocentric” Culture, You’re Actually Erasing Traditional Cultures

In a now-deleted tweet, a radical progressive publisher Verso Books recently called Native American women “Native womb carriers” while reporting on their systemic sterilization. Lovely that the Native Americans who suffered as a result of sterilization had their existence narrowed down to just one reproductive organ…which was forcibly destroyed. 

nervous unhappy smile

As I’ve written before, Native American cultures (among many other ancestral traditions worldwide) have assigned very deep meaning to womanhood and menstrual cycles. Periods weren’t just given sterile, medical terminology; they indicated spiritual power, holiness, and a time of purification.

In many cultures, womanhood and femininity isn’t unspeakable or something to feel ashamed of as if they’re diseases worthy of dehumanizing medical terminology – they’re celebrated, honored, and respected.

its-a-great-honor-deanna-troi

10. Because the Slope Is Slippery 

Alright, so breastfeeding is now chestfeeding, but how soon until it’s just pec-feeding? Asking for my fellow weightlifters.

The thing about progressivism is that there is no end in sight. The end goal of Marxism is to establish a classless society but that entails a long road ahead. Nothing seems to satiate, so we just have to keep progressing! 

all gas no brakes

With that logic, if it’s “birthing person” today, whose to stop it from being “birthing thing” tomorrow, since we should really be sensitive to those out there identifying as non-humans? As long as we finally can make it to absolute statelessness, anything is cool under the guise of progress.

11. Because Even the Most Progressive Among Us Can’t Stop Contradicting Themselves

While many people were a bit shook by Vice President Kamala Harris’s recent video where she introduces herself with what seems like unnecessary context in case there were visually-impaired observers, I was more shook by the fact that she openly admitted she is a woman.

It doesn’t seem like anyone, let alone American elected officials who the voters put in office with their full trust, can keep the story straight. Look no further than sitting Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who couldn’t even decide on a single term to say “woman,” bouncing around from “people to give birth” to “any menstruating person.” 

Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, all of these gross labels just don’t sound right. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were an all-encompassing term for “people who menstruate,” “period-havers,” “chest-feeders,” “bleeders,” and “womb havers?”

Since countless dictionaries, medical guides, elected officials, and government documents don’t want to write the word out anymore, I’ll write it again for good measure: woman.

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