We are often asked to leave our uteruses behind, in an attempt to not desecrate. Considering how menstruation is entirely abnormal, and menstruating women are anomalies, from which and whom we have to protect all that is important and then some – men, deities, cultures, traditions, morality, and in the newest of additions to an already absurdly long list, friend’s homes.
As far as, Union Textile Minister, Smriti Irani is concerned, visiting a temple while wearing a menstrual hygiene product, is the same as handing a friend an used sanitary pad or bringing one to their house, with a bow on it for good measure, I can only assume.
After receiving backlash and ridicule for her asinine comparison, Irani took to Twitter to say that she isn’t being allowed to express her ideas because she doesn’t ascribe to liberal beliefs. Although, she fails to point the blame to whether it really lies – her absurd comparison.
If only uterus were detachable, then women could have all the same rights as men
She asked if women would “offer a friend a blood-soaked pad” except, nobody is doing this with the deity either. Do women visit friend’s homes while menstruating? For the crowd that doesn’t fear desecration of their homes at the hands of impure menstruating women, yes.
So I take it that the ‘new-age’ women that patriarchy and patriarchal agents often condemn for their vices, like a strong desire for equality and autonomy can visit the Sabarimala since they seem to have no qualms about visiting the homes of friends with their bloodied uteruses.
Also read: Period Piece Official: Menstruation Through The Ages
What Irani said only works if women agree with her statement about not visiting someone’s house with a sanitary pad. So all the women who don’t condone being stripped of their rights because a biological process is exclusively female, thus, impure by patriarchal standards, can visit the Sabarimala because they have no qualms about carrying their menstruating uterus around and wearing menstrual hygiene products while participating in public life and entering homes.
If only uterus were detachable, then women could have all the same rights as men. But since they aren’t, it makes for a greatly effective, eternal excuse to push them to the sidelines. But with women already attempting to visit the Sabarimala, we can only assume that the women of now aren’t okay with this. They wear their uteruses while taking on a disturbingly patriarchal society, seeking equality, autonomy, and liberty. They demand the rights kept from them, never once taking shame in their uteruses, their status as menstruating women, or their bloodied menstrual products.
Irani’s analogy was weak and ineffective, but it is one that can go a long way in creating further animosity about an already dividing issue. However weak Irani’s analogy might have been, one thing is crystalline, Irani doesn’t want menstruating women in the Sabarimala because she thinks it is a sacrilege.
As a woman in power, we would expect Irani to stand-by other women, to stand up for feminism and women’s rights.
Irani claimed she isn’t able to present her opinions freely because she is a woman. It’s rather ironical though, considering she seems to be very comfortable with the continued violation of the right’s of women for the sake of patriarchal beliefs. As a woman in power, we would expect Irani to stand-by other women, to stand up for feminism and women’s rights. But we forget to question whether women in power within patriarchal cultures are voices of dissent that lead the cause of women further or are mere patriarchal agents functioning to promote and preserve the patriarchy.
To everyone, including Irani, who believe ‘real’ believers would never step into a temple while menstruating – the women of now are reclaiming spaces they have been disallowed. They are discarding a culture that is used as a weapon for their continued subjugation. They are rising above the shame they are entrusted as young girls. They are unlearning what they have been taught. They are standing up, together, to fight for what is rightly theirs. Inane analogies and shaming won’t coerce them to change the path of their fight, for they know it to be right.
Also read: The Sabarimala Protests: History Repeats Itself As Progress Is Met With Violence
Women entering temples while menstruating isn’t sacrilege. Although, women being denied their rights because patriarchy decided what a deity wants, now that’s a transgression. Women and their menstruating uteruses don’t desecrate anything, and anyone who claims they do is weaponising menstruation to deny women their rights and is using it as one of many tools to continue their subjugation. Irani’s statement, “you have a right to pray, but not a desecrate” is a clear attempt of her doing so. Period.
Featured Image Source: India Today
Why didn’t someone reply ‘Yes’ to her
I agree with the discourse you made and made it effortlessly Akshitha . It matters every bit towards patriarchy and the hegemony unlimited since ages. But undoing and unlearning is a turn around and a long way, maybe it’s a just an initiative phase and a long way to go in the pursuit of equanimity.
My point is how can a woman who holds such a big position say something nonsensical? It upsets me that instead of celebrating menstruation as a mark of womanhood, women are made to feel ashamed. All these rules regarding entry of women into the places of worship were created by men. And many women who support patriarchy have continued to abide by them, including educated ones. I doubt if education can really change the mindset of such people. What I hate is women not supporting each other. These women are feeding patriarchy into the mindsets of the new generation. If this continues India will take years to change.
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