I have a confession. I have had very few periods in my life. Actually, none. No periods. Doctors (ok, my friend whose nickname is Doc) have advised me that this is because I am a man.
If men had periods, the world would probably be a very different place. The video above predicts that us men would be able to use NASA-derived manpon products. But beyond having to keep a rocket in my pocket, if men had periods, women and girls would presumably face far fewer obstacles in life.
WaterAid launched their ‘If Men Had Periods’ campaign earlier this year to raise awareness of the 1.25 billion women around the world who do not have access to a toilet during their periods. And took a petition containing over 100,000 names to the UK Government in July.
And there was a survey...
WaterAid asked 2000 people how they thought the world would differ if men had periods and their answers presented a very different world!
The research highlighted the extent of stigma that surrounds periods, even in the UK, with 70% of women agreeing that such stigma exists and 83% believing it should be overcome. Half of respondents felt that governments, schools and health professionals should do more to combat period stigma (50%).
Eight out of ten respondents told WaterAid that the world of sport would change if men had periods (78%). Nearly a third believe that sports commentators would openly discuss how player’s menstrual cycles would affect their performance (29%), one in ten think that trainers would try to coordinate their players menstrual cycles (11%) and a fifth that bookmakers would factor a player’s menstrual cycle into their odds (21%).
Respondents also believe that Manpax would launch a sports range tampon (50%), footballers would endorse chocolate flavoured energy drinks ‘for that time of the month’ (34%), and white sportswear would be banned (23%).
A third of interviewees believe that men would brag about their periods (28%) and that they would congratulate and slap each other on the back for overcoming another month’s gruelling battle against nature (34%), while one in ten believe that celebratory ‘first period parties’ would be the norm.
A fifth think religious ceremonies would exist to celebrate a boys first period and welcome him into manhood (19%), and a third that boys would show off at school about ‘coming on’ for the first time (28%).
Interviewees also believe that men would update their Facebook statuses to tell everyone that they were on their period (17%), share period emoticons with their friends (20%) and that #imonmyperiod would trend on twitter (17%).
The upshot for women
Barbara Frost, WaterAid's CEO explained that "Menstruation is an important women’s issue. One in three women around the world do not have access to a toilet during their periods and having to find a safe place after dark is both undignified and risky. Millions more suffer discrimination because of beliefs that they are ‘contaminated’ or ‘impure’. Stigma about menstruation means women do not seek the help and information they need, while the lack of hygiene facilities in schools is a major reason for young girls dropping out of education when they reach puberty”
"Female representation in politics in many parts of the world is still low, so perhaps if men had periods this issue would get the attention that it deserves. More needs to be done to ‘make it happen’ so that every women and girl has access to water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030”
You can learn more about WaterAid's work to improve access to water and sanitation in impoverished communities here.