If you're reading my book, Seeing Red, or following Brazen on our Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram, you’ll notice I frequently use the term “people with periods” (or sometimes PWP's). Using that term has generated a lot of strong reactions on social media, so I wanted to take a moment to let you know why we’ve chosen to use that terminology instead of simply saying “women”.
On social media, women write to me saying that using the term “people with periods” is inappropriate and even anti-feminist. You can check out the conversation right here.
I use the term people with periods for two reasons:
First, not all women have periods. Young girls don't have periods. Anovulatory women don’t have periods. Post-menopausal women don't have periods. Transgender women don’t have periods. In fact, lots of women don’t have periods for a host of medical reasons.
We certainly don’t want to leave these women behind, but at the same time, we understand that a lot of our content and products are tailored especially for period problems and they’ll be more relevant for women who are actively menstruating.
Second, not everyone with a period identifies as a woman. However people with periods identify, they still bleed. When the dominant culture says that only women have periods, it excludes transgender men, intersex people, and gender expansive people who have periods. In the Brazen family, everyone has a place to not just be included, but to be valued and offered dignity and support.
I identify as a woman. As women, we’ve known and felt the experience of being marginalized and excluded. I believe we need to take that experience to heart and use it as inspiration to ensure that others aren’t marginalized by us or after us. To me, that’s the ultimate goal of feminism. Period.
This transition in our language around periods and those who have them will create some growing pains. Many of us are unaccustomed to including anyone else into our sacred club of womanness. Trust me, I am also still learning how to be more inclusive and how to honor the struggles of women at the same time.
In the first draft of my book, I only used the term people with periods. I felt as though I was leaving myself, and my history, out of the conversation. As a result of that experience, and as a way for everyone in the conversation to feel seen and valued, I started using both “women” and “people with periods” (PWPs).
In general, I try to choose the word “women” when I talk about issues that relate to the women’s movement and use “people with periods” when I’m talking about those affected by the biological act of menstruation.
If the comments and emails from social media are any indicator of how strongly people feel about this, I'm sure after this blog post and video, that there will be just as many comments and upset opinions. I want you to know that I welcome all of them. I want to hear all of your opinions and thoughts. I also hope that you will listen to the opinions of others in our community.
As a community, we’ll debate topics, like this one, that can be very polarizing. I hope we can use these debates to push us to keep being curious, keep asking questions, and use differences to bring us closer together.