PMS: Three syllables that could rock your world. But what does this word mean? As a man, it is one of those words you never want to use to describe away women’s seemingly irrational behaviour. Unless you want to hear a very loud and shrill rant. Or if you know the women I do, get a prompt kick in the crown jewels. For women, it is the constant irritation of dealing with pop culture and stand-up comedians love affair with PMS jokes.
But is the alternative to making crass oversimplifications, just shutting up? I think not. The fact is, in our increasingly politically correct world, we do not address some things just to pacify, well, the angry women. The women whose eyebrows go up when you mention PMS and tell you “Don’t even think about it!”
Now here’s my problem with that. Society and culture thrives on making certain topics taboo- female sexuality, periods, rape, etc. When you cannot even talk about something openly, it provides a connotation of shame to it. How do you expect women to believe there is no shame in their being women when everything about their bodies is brushed under the carpets as ‘inappropriate’?And it is that culture that tolerates locking up women when they menstruate, treating them as social outcasts and of course dismissing them as professionals. For years, men thought women could not be involved in outdoors activities and professions because of- wait for it- menstruation!
This was fine in the world that was but it cannot be a part of the world the Modern Man seeks to build. In order to deconstruct what he has been raised to believe he needs to understand. So women can continue to be overly sensitive about words like ‘vagina‘ and ‘PMS‘ and god knows what else. But the Modern Man is not a gentleman. He is no knight in shining armour. He has little patience or indulgence for your baggage and who has been oppressing you.
The fact is, the more ‘secretive’ and ‘inappropriate’ any topic is deemed, the more power it has to dominate and repress people. So what we propose is this: rob it of its power by taking away the secretiveness. That is the key to a lot of the issues that come with the conversation on gender. It certainly is the key to this one.
And if you want, I can start. Men don’t hate talking because they think it’s a bore. Men hate talking because most women don’t really want to hear what they have to say. And ignorance breeds bigotry. Or in this case- sexism.
I will end with a quote from South Park by the delightfully offensive Mr. Garrison:
“I’m sorry, Wendy, but I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.”
Sure, you can call him a chauvinist pig. But what then? What then indeed.
I’m reading a book called Rubbish Boyfriends. But hang on, that’s not all that’s responsible for this mood o’ mine. I’ve been talking (and talking and talking) to the following women:
A has been steadily (as opposed to happily) married to a ‘Who says we get it right the first time?’ pedigree-carrier.
B is married to the man described by Barmaid as the ‘Good On Paper Indian Guy’ a.k.a. GOPIG (also M.C.Pig). She’s also momma to a 3-year-old and a useless daughter-in-law in the eyes of the matriarch who stays with them.
C has been hitched for four years and has to show for it the following:
- 3-year-old adorable coochie-boo
- 4 home addresses
- Career chart resembling a diagram of the universe (spotty) rather than a straight graph.
A says she stops short of being murderous at the sight of her husband, especially on certain days of the month. So she’s gotten herself a dog. Dog answers to ‘Gabbar’ (despite fancy names conceived by A, on account of pesky husband getting there first) but Gabbar loves her every day of the month, PMS regardless. Arre O Sambha, ek hi aadmi tha par chodo…they’re all the same!
B, juggling phone on neck-shoulder, scrambling about for change and yelling at the taxiwalla, bemoans being called a bad mother for working till 2 am. Then she adds that papa dearest sleeps in late right through baby’s sports day preparations. Her tired tirade ends with,
So long as he isn’t alcoholic, abusive or cheating on you, assume he’s Mr.Perfect. That’s as good as it is ever going to get.
I want to wail about committment-phobias, male insensitivity and thoughtlessness. I want to talk about my non-conversations about my non-relationship with my non-boyfriend. But I can see she’s not quite in the state for it so I take my woes elsewhere.
C, straight-faced as always listens to me and offers this sage advice,
Remember I used to say I’d never leave Mumbai. Do you know all the places I’ve lived in in the past four years? Do you know where I’m going to be six months from now? I don’t, either.
That makes me pause and think. So I watch SATC, drink a bottle of wine, laugh with a friend, read Chick Lit, go shopping and write XX Factor instead. Settle for if you want to settle down seems to be the order of the day. While there’s love (for the uncynical ones), sex, children and stability, no one told them about shrinking expectations (and fading dreams), comfort meshed into indifference, dreams replaced by ‘the best way to end the argument once and for all’. They change, they modify, they sigh a bit, wash their faces and carry on. All of them seem to be echoing that men will be men, at the end of it and there’s just this much you can make them care about things outside themselves.
Resignation appears to be every committed woman’s uniform emotion. And inter-twined with the single girl’s need to find someone special is a sense of relief at not having done so yet.
…are like disco lights behind your eyelids
…..and your stomach doing the dancing.
While PMS is no excuse for bad behavior, it is an experience that no woman is proud of. It isn’t funny to be at the mercy of chemicals that your own body produces and whose side-effects science has still been unable to find an adequate solution to. Quite alarming to turn into a marionette once a month or so.
Sometimes I think Mother Nature must be Father Nature, considering what a wicked trick this was to play on your own kind!
Also posted to Yahoo! Real Beauty.
The weather is sickening.
Outside the sun is scorching the earth
like something from the kitchens of a very bad cook..dark, smelly, sticky.
The sunlight on my face gives me a headache.
Inside, the fan is whipping a breeze across my face too fast.
Slower it offends my ears with its whirring.
I’m sick, going to throw up.
Food is a revolting thought.
As are dusty corners, soaking wet clothes, bathrooms..
Bathroom, I need to make my way to the bathroom.
I heave across, slow-motion in my own eyes
And suddenly comfort is there
In the splashes of red.
The twenty-eighth day.
I mark it with a red cross on my calendar
And turn around with a sigh of relief.
The longest journey is when you don’t know what awaits you in the end
D-day to D-day is just 28 days.
And yet, each of them seems to vary in length.
The first week..what a relief, what a joy!
Waves of perspiration breaking out,
Relief is the sweetest thing of all.
While my body pays for that joy.
As the pains subside,
Its time for resolutions
To be more careful,
To be less willing
To be stronger in my will.
All in good intention.
The days pass and dangers spread thin over them,
Like butter softly melting into bread,
The temptations sink into my being.
Till I slowly break down again
And sink into them.
Feeling my body’s victory over the mind.
Defiant pleasure overruling guilt.
And then, the most difficult phase begins.
The waiting, the wondering, the secret misgivings.
A million “Why did I?”s and “How could you?”s
For every hundred or so, one fight.
For every fight a hundred or so sorrys.
I’m frowning more and more each day.
Then one day tears roll down.
Then the weather starts to sicken.
And I wait and wonder if it is close to D-day again.