Anita Diamant Sheds New Light on Menstrual Injustice
Girls need to learn that a period is natural, not shameful
In her new book, “Period. End of Sentence.” (Scribner, 2021), New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist Anita Diamant sheds light on the ways in which menstrual injustice threatens the education, health, and dignity of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Riding the wave of the Oscar-winning documentary of the same name, the book is both eye-opening and inspiring. Through a series of essays and interviews featuring doctors, teachers, and activists, Diamant challenges the silence surrounding menstruation and highlights the organizations and everyday heroes fighting against the stigma.
Dedicating her book to the young people “making the change,” Diamant finds hope in the refusal to accept the status quo that stigmatizes menstruation. I spoke to Ms. Diamant about menstrual shaming, Indigenous period-positive traditions, and how tampon-shaped cookies can inspire a generation. This interview has been edited and condensed.
What is menstrual injustice?
It’s the injustice of living in a body that bleeds in a world that sees those bodies as less-than, worse-than, even a threat: cursed.
“The curse” is one of the most common euphemisms for menstruation. What effect does that name have?
Even if you put air quotes around “curse,” it communicates the idea that this essential function of the human body is, in itself, something that poses a threat. If you menstruate, you’re supposed to keep silent about it. But if you can’t talk about it — except in a whisper to a girlfriend in the bathroom — it sends the message that menstruation is somehow dirty or bad, and that causes a world of internalized shame.
Can that shame and silence become a roadblock to education if you can’t afford menstrual products?
This happens all over the U.S. and around the world. If a family is on a tight budget, buying food has to come before menstrual products and if girls don’t have what they need to manage their periods, they can be worried and preoccupied in class, unable to pay attention. That can mean missing school, falling behind, and can…