Growing up, I had the blessing and pleasure of having a mother who was a Title IX Crusader. In college, my mother participated in sit-ins so the women's swim team that she captained could get letter jackets like the men. Both my mother and father taught me that being a woman was in no way a disadvantage. My sister and I were both held to the same athletic and academic standards as our scholar/athlete brother. Of course, when puberty hit, my physical concerns were different than my brothers. Yes, The British were coming. Aunt Flo paid a surprise visit. The Crimson Streak ruined my summer white. I got my period.
My mother sat me down for the talk. We talked about pads and tampons. Then, my mom looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Some girls will tell their boyfriends. Some women will use this as an excuse and a crutch. But never, ever talk about it or reveal you are on your cycle. Men will use that against you, especially as a driven, intelligent women. They will look for anything to cripple you."
As a teenager, I took my mother's advice. Girls who used their periods as an excuse to get out of gym class were ridiculed by our male classmates. Young women who felt the need to share this information were the subject of mockery. Not to mention that they came across as weak and whiny.
As I got older, I moved to New York and began to perform comedy. Carol Martin, a teacher of mine at NYU, gave me an article on women in stand up. The article mentioned that successful women in comedy spoke about being a person rather than being a woman. Night after night, as I made my home in musty basements with whiskey-infused floorboards, I saw a plethora of comedians, male and female. It was surprising and disgusting how many of my female counterparts felt the need to talk about their menstrual issues into great detail. Some of the women in the audience would laugh. Most of the men would be uncomfortable. Later, these same cycle sisters would rant and rave on comedy message boards about male bookers and the sexism of the industry. They would talk about how male bookers treated them like pieces of meat, and how the male comedians in the room would rip on them. Answer: You opened the door and gave them ammo. You let them.
I will not lie, the comedy industry is sexist. I have been groped and spoken to like a piece of meat by sleazy, fat men and morons who look like they are from Revenge of the Nerds. However, my ride has been more pleasant because I speak about myself as a person, not as a sex organism and what comes out of it. As a result, many of the male comedians and other guys I have crossed paths with treat me with respect. Why? Because I am not a whining, professional victim who uses biology as an excuse. I go in, do my job, and don't complain. Trust me, if you can do what you are supposed to do without too much drama, dudes like that. Not only does it work in your favor, but they tend to be much less catty and see the bigger picture. If you are cramping up, take a Midol, move on, and keep it to yourself.
Note: If you biology has complications that do truly impede you from functioning, see a gyno. That is why they exist. For the love of God, don't tell anyone. Does this sound mean? Yes, but ladies you want to be treated equally, than pull the weight. Don't be a whiney, pathetic, "girl." Don't even give your male colleagues ammo to make you the victim of gender based bullying.
In closing, I think the less women speak about their periods, the better. Not just because no one wants to know, but also because why weaken ourselves? Sexism is alive and well. It only thrives if we feed it. When we use our periods as an excuse not to perform up to snuff, we make it grow arms and legs like Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors. If we want to be taken seriously as thinkers, leaders and artists, then we have to stop being sobbing whiners. My mom was right. Take the maxi pad and shut up.