• Wednesday, July 30, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    Taboo word out in the open

    27 Jul 2009


    Sometime in this century, a taboo word crept out of the dark, dusty basement of journalists’ lexicon and acquired legitimacy and visibility, both as a word and an issue: menstruation.

    Bring it into the open: it's our right. By M. Sayagues

    Now we can talk about it.

    Neither impurity necessitating reclusion nor social blunder, our monthly cycle is now recognized as part of women’s sexual and reproductive needs and an issue of hygiene and dignity.

    (…and I wrote “our cycle” on the third edit, it´s still not that easy to be public about it…)

    Something similar happened with cancer. As philosopher Susan Sontag noted in her classic essay “Illness as a Metaphor” of 1977, the standard euphemism used in obits was that someone had died after a long illness. Ten years later, she noted “a new candor”, the word cancer uttered more freely.

    Regarding menstruation, surprisingly, TV ads did not shy away from comparing pad brands. But the press lagged behind the ad agencies.

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