Men shaming women and disempowering them is no news, but women shaming other women is the real issue in our society today. In this day and age, some women are still ashamed of their periods calling it ‘bad blood’. It’s also not a surprise that this is still a topic in higher socio-economic classes and educated groups.
Sipping a few drops of water while hiding in the privacy of ladies rooms is an option many women turn to on daily basis in reputable multinationals “I never eat or drink in public when I’m on my period, I always do it in private. Partially because I feel bad for eating and drinking in front of people fasting, but mainly because I feel so awkward, especially around my male colleagues. Sometimes in order to avoid the questioning looks and comments, I go to the toilet in work to avoid being seen drinking water,” Hala tells us. “It feels so stupid, but it is the better of two options!” she adds.
Being on your period requires a good diet with energy boosters and lots of liquids, especially in summer and compromising this for the sake of what people would say comes hand in hand with severe health risks. “Last year I was taking my Thanaweya Amma exams and I was on my period. It was very hot, there was no AC or fan, I felt so dizzy so I had a bottle of water with me. The exam supervisor kept looking at me in a judgmental way. So the following days I didn’t bring water to my exams,” Sara tells. Rana has also experienced significant shaming, “I was drinking water when someone passing by in a car, literally shouted something like, ‘you wear a hijab, you should respect the rules.” Rana reveals, “The following year I tried to avoid drinking water in public. I was on the metro without AC, I was so hot and dizzy that I actually fainted! I had been so worried about being embarrassed in public that I had put my health at risk. No one should have to do that,” she adds.
It’s really sad how periods still make Egyptian men feel uncomfortable around you. “With male colleagues, it can be difficult, sometimes they comment on it and ask if I am cheating that day. It is an embarrassing subject to bring up, I usually just try and hint at it without openly being like, ‘it is because I am currently menstruating’, but often they don’t get it. Or they do get it, and spend the next few days being embarrassed around you because periods make them feel uncomfortable. I think this is something that all women have experienced,” Dalia explains. Amina has also faced difficulty with men during her period, “I have literally been refused water and snacks by shopkeepers during Ramadan. How can they do this? A few times this year I have had to ask my foreign friend to get the stuff for me just to avoid any incidents. Which just felt ridiculous having to depend on someone else to get me a bar of chocolate.”
Unfortunately, shaming seems to have become as big a part of the Ramadan tradition like drinking Amar al Din when breaking your fast. It doesn’t matter if it is judgmental looks or being shouted at, women should not fear ramifications for following the rules and looking after their bodies. The consequences of this are hugely negative whether they lead to fainting or just create a feeling that you need to hide when you are consuming food and water. Real women are experiencing real problems as a result of this shame.