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message 1: by Savannah, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (last edited Feb 28, 2016 09:20PM) (new)

Savannah (dssharris) | 321 comments Mod
Lets be honest for just a second; females cannot really blame males for asking, "Are you on your period?" whenever we get a bit tetchy. Sure, sometimes it is highly unwarranted, and I am not condoning their assumption, but again, we cannot really blame them for it. When we as woman get emotional, or we get upset at someone, it is only natural for them to assume that it is our time of the month.

Why do you think that is? Do you want to know why I think this happens?

As females, we are not helping the stereotype. I know woman who, if they get into an argument, will just blame it on their period and then things will be let to slide. They are permitted a pass for their clearly inappropriate behavior by pulling the period card, or the cramp card, or the "I am just hormonal" card. What these certain people do not realize is they are enabling others in society to use our periods as ammunition.

Is this really always the okay thing to do? Are woman playing into the stereotype and letting men think it is okay to just blame everything on a period? I think yes, even if sometimes it is just hormones. What are your thoughts on this? How can we change the fact that people always ask, "Are you on your period?" whenever we just snap?



message 2: by Bunny (last edited Feb 28, 2016 09:56PM) (new)

Bunny Maybe you can't blame people for that, I can. I am lucky enough to have friends who have better sense than to say such very a stupid thing to me. Of course if anyone did they would cease to be my friend. I have never in my life blamed my moods on my hormones.

Actual PMS, which I do not have, is a medical condition. It's not a card you play to get out of taking responsiblity for your own behavior. Good grief. Do women actually do this? I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Yet I am.


message 3: by Bunny (new)

Bunny I'm sorry I realize that probably sounds very harsh. I was just kind of horrified and reacted to that.


message 4: by Savannah, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Savannah (dssharris) | 321 comments Mod
It was not harsh at all, Bunny! I understand we are all here to chat and discuss topics, both relating to feminist and not, and some can be controversial or evoke emotional responses. I thought your response was honest and concise.

You bring up a very good point actually, in that PMS is a medical condition, and woman using their period as an excuse are using the pain and suffering of others as their own.



message 5: by Bunny (last edited Feb 28, 2016 10:47PM) (new)

Bunny It felt like a blast from an unlamented Mad Men past when women's genuine feelings were dismissed as unimportant and irrelevant. Women can't be genuinely angry for a real cause, we're defective and hormonal and just need to take a Valium. It's frustrating to realize that silly ideas about how women's bodies work are still alive and well and influencing lots of people.

I suppose at least most people no longer think that our wombs wander around our bodies causing hysteria, or that we rust iron tools if we touch them, or cause wine to go sour. Or steal penises in the night and hide them in nests up in the trees. (All things that were actually written about women at one time).


message 6: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments I don't think anything should be used an excuse, but we should own up to our behaviour and quit being brats.

On the other hand, I do get seriously pissed off when I have a valid point, which is undermined by a man, who pulls the period card for me.

As a human being, it is my job to control how I talk and filter my words, but sometimes, just sometimes if I happen to be overly mad about something, I can raise my voice more than usually, and use cruder language than I normally do. It happens so seldom that any person with even a remote hint of intelligence realises that in such an instance my explosiveness has to do with the topic rather than the person. But for that reflection to happen, said person would have had to observe me in the first place, as well as noted that I very rarely these days get heated up. So if I behave "badly", it isn't because I'm freaking PMSing, but it's because I'm seriously completely utterly angry about something.

Women shouldn't create inflation in their anger. There's no need to constantly bitch or nag about stuff either, but saving the resources is the smart move in my book.

They talk about cursing leaders on the Harvard Business Review podcast and research shows a great leader, who normally behaves well, can have extra effect in their leadership if using an explosion of temper very sparingly. The conclusion was that an employee should know exactly what is going on, that someone has messed up so totally that boundaries have been overstepped. I subscribe to this sort of thinking, plus cursing apparently makes us healthier individuals up in the head.

Aside from that, tldr? Well, do not ever use any card, but human up behind your words and actions. Anything else is lame.


message 7: by Justine (new)

Justine | 40 comments Savannah, at first I was a bit bewildered by the first part of your post but I actually see what you mean by saying that some women don't help fighting the stereotype by using it as a "card", as you put it, especially since there can be a misuse of the term PMS. Beyond the fact that this question is very rude and offensive in many ways, the post raises a valid question. And I would like to add that I even heard women asking this question to their friends, colleagues or talking about someone else (sometimes with humor... sometimes not).

I agree with Bunny, this inquiry about your cycle is a way to belittle our emotions and feelings, to dismiss our perceptions, unfortunately, this technique to discredit people and turn away a confrontation is not dead and is even played with since people know this is very anger-triggering, and therefore any answer becomes frustrating : you either get on the tiring spiral of getting even more angry or you tame a valid anger, which is a way of agreeing with the stereotype ("anger" can be replaced by any targeted feeling). This is a coward's last resort (sometimes even the first).

This topic reminds me of a Ted Talk by the absorbing Robyn Stein Deluca called "The good news about PMS (>https://www.ted.com/talks/robyn_stein...#) in which she partly mentions the fact that this card is also spontaneously used by women to make up for not fitting society's idea of femininity : quietness, pacifism, etc. Maybe instead of excusing our feelings when we are on our periods, we should be okay with them during the time when we are not.... This talk gave me a lot of confidence about mood balance, and now if anyone dares to ask me a certain question that only concerns me and my panties, maybe some day a baby-making partner, I am ready to answer that whether or not I am on my periods, I for my part and like pretty much all women on this planet, don't like to be annoyed not just 5 but 28 days a cycle.
Talking about comebacks, I also liked this one : http://buginateacup.tumblr.com/post/5...

Aglaea, I like this mature point of view :) Also, I never saw the expression "human up" before, but already feel like I will use it a lot.


message 8: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Justine, I was considering using the expression "woman up" as opposed to "man up" but they are tricky, since they imply a set of standards in a rather stereotypical way, and yadayada, so I thought human up sort of conveyed the same idea without boxing up too much.

I've mentioned elsewhere that I hold all people, not just men, to a particular kind of standard in regards to how we address each other and show respect/kindness (and like everyone else I fail gloriously at times, but it is a personal ideal nonetheless). So in continuum with that, I thought humaning up would say "quit being a self-centered brat" :)

Sometimes I get crankier during the days before my period and I don't intentionally feel that way. Were my partner to ask me nicely, kind of alert me to his observation in a non-judgmental way, I wouldn't mind, because I do abhor using the lame card as mentioned earlier. It's when PMS is used as a tool to belittle me and other women that I see red (:P pun intended).


message 9: by Kat (new)

Kat Trina | 15 comments Justine wrote: "...in which she partly mentions the fact that this card is also spontaneously used by women to make up for not fitting society's idea of femininity : quietness, pacifism, etc. Maybe instead of excusing our feelings when we are on our periods, we should be okay with them during the time when we are not.... "

THIS. Exactly. I wouldn't be so harsh on women for pulling the PMS card. Let's not forget that about 150 years ago, an angry woman who spoke her mind could be shipped off to a mental institution for "hysteria" by her husband. Hiding, suppressing, and blaming rage on external factors was probably a survival tactic for much of history.
It's also a learned behavior. I remember when I was 12 i started my period, around the same time as a lot of other girls. And because it was this new (and slightly horrifying) phenomenon in our lives, it took on a particular kind of fascination for us. The girls around me would make jokes about PMS and bitchiness, accusing each other and female teachers of "being on the rag" whenever they behaved in a way we didn't like. I remember going along with it as a joke, because when you're young, you don't know. But I was secretly very bewildered by it, since I never noticed any really significant mood changes other than chagrin at bleeding all over the place.

But still, for a while in my early teenage years I did play the pms card because it was a LEARNED, SOCIALLY REWARDED BEHAVIOR. We don't need to play the blame game or get hard on ourselves about it. Let's just.. well.. not pass this behavior on to our children.


message 10: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Kat wrote: "Justine wrote: "...in which she partly mentions the fact that this card is also spontaneously used by women to make up for not fitting society's idea of femininity : quietness, pacifism, etc. Maybe..."

I agree in that it can be socially learned behaviour, but the way I see it, all these thought patterns need to be gone.

It is like a mentally weak man can use the aggression card instead of owning up to the fact that he hit a woman due to having personal problems. How is it any more justified for women to treat others like crap just because?

Lots of people are in chronic pain, yet in many cases they have learned to live with it, without resorting to low blows against others, or making general excuses.

What I'm saying is it is high time to air out the old baggage, and that includes PMS used by men and women alike.


message 11: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Hmmm, someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe PMS is classified as a medical condition typically, at least not in the sense that it's diagnosable. From what I understand, it refers to the symptoms resulting from the hormonal cycle, which are noticeable in some women and not in others.

A medical condition that is diagnosable, however, is pre-mentrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is a treatable disorder. I'm sensitive about the difference between PMS and PMDD because I was recently diagnosed with PMDD myself, and I've come to notice the differences in my own body and mood since developing PMDD.

Anyway, regarding the use of "PMS" as an excuse, I think it depends on the people with whom one is interacting. If a random man, or a co-worker, or someone I don't know very well, blames my bad mood or anger on PMS, that is complete nonsense and incredibly disrespectful. But my partner earnestly asking me which part of my cycle I'm currently in is understandable, because he has come to recognize the differences. In fact, he helped me realize that something wasn't right with my extreme mood swings and complaints of pain, and that led me to see a doctor and get treatment.


message 12: by Judy (new)

Judy | 63 comments I read a while ago, that the hormone shift that occurs premenstrually actually contributes to the woman being more in touch with her feelings/truth and the veil between her true self and her presented self is thinner. I'm unable to present scientific research or anything. Maybe the irritability of which we are often accused is a form of frustration from not expressing ourselves most of the 28 day cycle. Having this thought helped me feel more courageous and proud in pms. And it's interesting to me, that postmenopause, woman have greated freedom to be who they always were.


message 13: by MeerderWörter (last edited Mar 06, 2016 04:55AM) (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments What I really hate is when men say they have a bad day due to "PMS". I mean, first, as far as I know, they can't develop PMS, that's biologically impossible. Second, it's bad behaviour to say you have a bad day due to something you do not have.

I mean, I don't say:" I have a bad day due to PMS" either, although I'm a woman and it is a possibility.

I hope I didn't tip on someone's toes and if somebody wants to ask questions in order to not have false impressions, feel free to do so.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I have read that there are some men who have male PMS (irritable male syndrome). Maybe some people from the medical field can say what their opinion of this is. It would be very interesting to know.


message 15: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Well, I'll ask somebody tomorrow, or look it up at the University's library. I'll give information tomorrow.


message 16: by Henriette (new)

Henriette Terkelsen (henrietteterkelsen) I have a hard time figuring out what to think about this subject.

On the one hand I have alot of temper. I'm strongheaded, stubborn and cry easily (so does my three sisters - we tear up easily). I rarely meet the "are you on your period"-question, though. But I definitely am a woman of temper that has nothing to do with hormones. I'm also a person who has suffered several depressions and anxiety, so I'm also trying to protect myself from arguments if I'm in a vulnarable fase.

On the other hand I definitely suffer from hormonal moodswings. My periods are very irregular (is that the right term? The do not come with the same interval each month), so I won't know when the next one is up, but I feel it in my mood. I cry more, I explode more, I'm cranky and feel shit about myself. And it got so much worse after having kids! (My cramps almost disappeared)
Having been through artificial insemination and therefore having been on alot of hormones I know (and have doctors words for) that I am extremely sensitive to hormones, so perhaps we are just different in that aspect.

I don't use my periods as an excuse, but sometimes it can explane my behavoir. And my husband is very aware of the fact that I might just cry a little more, be more difficult in that fase. Which is good for him to know, since I've suffered the before mentioned depressions. He knows he doesn't have to worry.
And I am able to contain my crankyness in public, at work etc. It is usually my husband (and myself) who feels it. And he seems to be in it for the long run - including pms.


message 17: by Simon (last edited Apr 05, 2016 12:33AM) (new)

Simon Kuhn | 223 comments Well, as a boy who's still in college, I often get to 'deal' with girls who sometimes like to start an argue with me or with one of my friends.
(Don't get me wrong tho, these girls are most likely also my friends)
I also dont have like a stereotypical view of girls, and I would never ask if they're on their period. If they argue with me and they start getting mad or emotional, I link that to their period but I just think that but I would never say it out loud.

Now here's my problem with some girls:
Some girls blame their problems on their period. If they cant win a discussion: they get mad and then blame it on their period, but you can't say anything back because "I'm not on my period."

Thats often a big problem I have to deal with in college, and I really get some people in my school when they say (not litteraly) that they have a stereotypical view of girls, that they all use their period as an argument to get what they want.

I know that not all girls are like that, and I also know that the girls who use this argument, dont really want to create this image of them.

This was basicly my story, feel free to say something about this if you dont entirely agree with this.

-Simon <3


message 18: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Henriette wrote: "I have a hard time figuring out what to think about this subject.

On the one hand I have alot of temper. I'm strongheaded, stubborn and cry easily (so does my three sisters - we tear up easily). I..."


For you it is clearly an explanation, but you're not walking around throwing the PMS card around as an explanation for bad behaviour just because you don't care to make efforts, to treat others well. To me it sounds like you're seriously, genuinely suffering when experiencing ups and downs from the hormonal cycle.

In my earlier comments, at least on my own behalf, I hope it is clear what I mean, because there's a big difference between having an actual condition and merely behaving like a child on a temper tantrum even when it would be possible to snap out of it instead of voluntarily (that's the difference) going ahead to crap on others. What I personally can't stand is when people are fully aware of what they are doing, then proceed to hurt others for fun. In some cases this PMS card is used.


message 19: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (last edited Apr 05, 2016 10:27AM) (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Aglaea wrote: "In my earlier comments, at least on my own behalf, I hope it is clear what I mean, because there's a big difference between having an actual condition and merely behaving like a child on a temper tantrum even when it would be possible to snap out of it instead of voluntarily (that's the difference) going ahead to crap on others. What I personally can't stand is when people are fully aware of what they are doing, then proceed to hurt others for fun. In some cases this PMS card is used."

I think if someone's symptoms are as bad as that, they should probably see a doctor in case there are any underlying issues. It could be PMDD, PCOS, endometriosis, etc.

That being said, sometimes even regular PMS results in some significant mood swings, but men have those as well. People who do not have female reproductive organs have their own hormonal cycle, just typically less extreme than than those of us with baby-making machinery. What we need is more compassion all around, a better understanding that regardless of whether someone is on their period, people have good days, bad days, and mood swings by the minute. So we can all try to be understanding of them, and if we are the ones with the mood swings, we can acknowledge that symptoms don't require lashing out, and it's okay to apologize for upsetting someone else, and you can mention your period or not. Periods aren't the only reason a women, or anyone else, is in a bad mood.

And... okay here I go. We need better education of what women's periods should feel like! At least we do in the U.S. Obviously everyone's symptoms aren't the same, but we need to accept that undue suffering on a monthly basis is not a necessity just for being born with a uterus. So many girls know nothing about menstruation when they reach puberty. And then throughout adolescence we are basically conditioned to accept the pain and mood swings, it's just natural. But often, young women are suffering from more extreme cases and just think they're weak and pathetic (I did!) and don't seek the help they need. This is why so many of these conditions, some of which I listed above, go years without diagnosis and adequate treatment.

Sorry for the tangent. But I think if there were simply better education on these matters, everyone would have more empathy for one another, PMS would no longer be a valid excuse for bad behavior, and men would no longer think that every bad mood a woman has is because of her period.


message 20: by Bunny (last edited Apr 05, 2016 11:13AM) (new)

Bunny Katelyn wrote: "we need to accept that undue suffering on a monthly basis is not a necessity just for being born with a uterus. So many girls know nothing about menstruation when they reach puberty. And then throughout adolescence we are basically conditioned to accept the pain and mood swings, it's just natural. But often, young women are suffering from more extreme cases and just think they're weak and pathetic (I did!) and don't seek the help they need. This is why so many of these conditions, some of which I listed above, go years without diagnosis and adequate treatment...."

I agree with that Katelyn. I was watching Call the Midwife last week (this is a show about midwives working in a poor area of England in the 1950's) and one of the characters in this particular episode was an older woman who had some health problems linked to having had a number of pregnancies (don't click spoiler if you don't want TMI) (view spoiler) and she was just trying to live with it because her mother had told her when she was young that this is just what women put up with, its part of being a woman. For many of us we've already come a long way from those days, but there is still a ways to go.

Also in this as in many things, the medical community has an unfortunate history (and present) of not taking women's pain very seriously and of minimizing and dismissing complaints from female patients. So even if there is something wrong it may be an uphill battle to get it diagnosed and treated.


message 21: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments One reason for my choosing a female gynecologist... It's easier to have at least some kind of mutual understanding without having to try to explain to someone, who potentially thinks he gets it, but who due to ego issues doesn't. Or something. I mean, I can try my best to imagine what it's like to have different genitals, experience erection of a penis, and all that it entails, but I never will, so if a guy would like a male doctor for his male problems, and I was a female man-doctor, well, I wouldn't feel offended at all.


message 22: by Bunny (last edited Apr 05, 2016 11:24AM) (new)

Bunny True a female doctor can be better. Not just for gynecology either, for example the symptoms of a heart attack are different in women than in men. But there's also internalized sexism so you can't always count on women to be better.

Plus an unfortunate history in medical research of assuming that women are just smaller weaker men with some weird extra parts, so just give them a smaller dose of the same medicine. A female doctor can sometimes listen better but she can't offer better treatments if there aren't any. So part of it is that the research has got to be done. Which requires funding, which requires political will to get the funding...


message 23: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (shadowrosepoet) | 4 comments It also requires encouraging women to become researchers, with interests in changing their own scientific and medical fates.


message 24: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Bunny wrote: "True a female doctor can be better. Not just for gynecology either, for example the symptoms of a heart attack are different in women than in men. But there's also internalized sexism so you can't ..."

Oh groan, don't get me started on the "average human". Male, 70 kg, yada yada... Apply averages to already scattered statistics and it's a mess.


message 25: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Ugh, I can go on and on about biases in medicine and science... UGH! Having a number of anxiety-linked health issues, most of which commonly present concurrently, and 9/10 diagnosed are women... and so many either have little to no standardized treatment or are just incredibly expensive to treat.

I went years, in fact a decade encompassing all of my teen years, with extremely painful stomach cramping and digestion issues on a daily basis. The doctor just said "Oh, you have IBS. Eat more fiber." Well, I guess that helped a little bit, but it wasn't until years later when a doctor actually bothered to forward me to a GI specialist and eventually had tests done that came to a definitive diagnosis. I got the antibiotics I needed (Yup—all those years with an untreated bacterial infection!) that cost hundreds of dollars, btw, and my quality of life has been 250% better ever since. Still have some IBS symptoms on occasion, but if my doctor had just listened to me over a decade ago, instead of assuming that this 12-year-old girl was exaggerating her pain or was just too weak to handle it, my teen years could have been so much better.

Then add on top of that the anxiety related to my PMDD, TMJ disorder, and insomnia, all of which cropped up within a year of each other... And none of these things have very good standard treatment and/or are nebulous to diagnose.

Sorry again for ranting! I've gone wildly off topic. To bring it back to hormones and menstrual cycles, I don't think it's a coincidence that all of these related issues began happening for me during the height of puberty. If we paid closer attention to young people's, especially girls', experiences during puberty and paying attention to patterns like these, I think we'd have a healthier crop of adults with better overall health.


message 26: by Bunny (last edited Apr 05, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Bunny This trip has actually helped me to understand something more clearly so yay! I have always been very irritated by the dismissive "oh it's just PMS, she'll get over it" thing. I don't like dismissiveness I find it disrespectful.

What this thread has helped me to understand more fully is how much that dismissiveness is unwarranted in either case. What I mean is if it isn't actually PMS and she really is angry about something that happened it's disrespectful to just attribute it to her hormones and ignore it. And if it is PMS the fact that somebody has a medical condition that makes it impossible for them to control their temper isn't funny or worth dismissing either.


message 27: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Bunny wrote: "This trip has actually helped me to understand something more clearly so yay! I have always been very irritated by the dismissive "oh it's just PMS, she'll get over it" thing. I don't like dismissi..."

Sounds to me like you enjoy categorising stuff. My own self-knowledge is due to observing several options and outcomes, meanings and consequences, just like your reasoning. Just don't forget the tiny group of people with character/attitude problems as only reason for treating others like crap, and we're good.


message 28: by Bunny (new)

Bunny Maybe categorizing has a different meaning in Finnish? Or maybe you meant analyzing?


message 29: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Bunny wrote: "Maybe categorizing has a different meaning in Finnish? Or maybe you meant analyzing?"

No, I meant splitting up into several categories. Never mind.


message 30: by Judy (new)

Judy | 63 comments Just for the record. Menstruating doesn't have to be painful. I began at 11, maybe cramps 1/year. Every 35days, for 4-5days. 2 easy pregancies, deliveries ( i mean easy! Like 3 hours) menopause at 54. Again easy. I did nothing special, got no special initiation into womanhood. And am only mentioning it all here as an observation that it can be ok. To offer balance. When i abruptly stopped at menopause..like 1month i had my period, then i didn't. I kind of missed it.
I'm an rn, other women in my immediate family did not experience what i did. I would never judge. Just an offer of balance and gratitude.


message 31: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Judy wrote: "Just for the record. Menstruating doesn't have to be painful. I began at 11, maybe cramps 1/year. Every 35days, for 4-5days. 2 easy pregancies, deliveries ( i mean easy! Like 3 hours) menopause at ..."

You're very lucky, I am jealous! And I think it further drives home the point that when a young woman (or someone of any age) complains of very painful menstrual cycles or particularly bad symptoms, we need to stop dismissing it as "Oh, that's just what being a woman is. Deal with it." There are women who actually don't have these symptoms at all. If someone is reporting a certain level of bad symptoms, why are we not examining them as thoroughly as we would for other types of health problems? Why does is usually take decades to diagnose endometriosis, for example (if it's even diagnosed at all)?


message 32: by Marina (new)

Marina | 314 comments Yeah very true! As someone said, if many/most men were experiencing a specific kind of pain once a month, a lot more research would go into it.
My pain pretty much went away when I switched to menstrual cups :)


message 33: by Bunny (new)

Bunny My experience has been much like Judy's. Occasional cramps if I wasn't feeling particularly well anyway that month otherwise nothing much to worry about, and not much in the way of mood swings either. I certainly recognize that it's otherwise for many women.


message 34: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Marina wrote: "My pain pretty much went away when I switched to menstrual cups :)"

Mine too! I love my cup. I had my first REALLY bad month of cramps last month, but it had been the first time in a year that I had been significantly incapacitated. It used to be almost every month.


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