When Men Use Women's Periods As An Excuse

Period jokes are cheap but common, with even national figures like Donald Trump apparently thinking they're OK to make (as evidenced by his recent behavior towards Fox News star Megyn Kelly in a GOP debate). Cosmopolitan helpfully investigated this issue with some candid interviews, and figured out that why men accuse women of being on their periods varies — and some of the reasons are better than others. Is it ever OK to accuse a woman of being on her period? Probably not. But we can't discourage this behavior effectively unless we understand it.

One man in Cosmo's video claims that he's made period accusations to "get out of" things, and that's a pretty sleazy move if you ask me. Another points out that if he can't figure out why a woman's upset, he uses her period as a sort of default assumption. Though that's still tasteless, maybe that's partially women's fault, for not being more transparent about why they're grumpy and expecting men to guess. It also comes up that women use this excuse too, so the men are just taking their cue. This is a tough one, because it may be more acceptable for women to talk about their own periods (which they understand quite intimately) than for men to speculate about them — but I do get the guy's point.

The women in Cosmo's video report that, when men accuse them of being on their periods, they feel as if their perspectives have been "invalidated." After all, who wants to be reduced to the functioning of merely one of her body parts, especially such a personal one? The challenge is to maintain that both cycles are real and often contain emotional components, and that a woman is generally perfectly capable of functioning well at menstrual times. Doesn't seem that complicated to me, but too bad everyone's not mature enough to handle this subtle position.

As for the Megyn Kelly situation, Twitter took things into its own hands, with many women tweeting about their own periods to Donald Trump — who hopefully read every last message and died a little inside. But what should you do if a man jokes about your period, or uses it as an excuse for his own bad behavior or emotional sensitivity? Don't feel pressured to confirm or deny the accusation, which only validates the idea that either the person was correct to blame the situation on your period, or the general framework that whether you're on your period is relevant at all. Instead, it makes better sense to ignore the period accusation altogether, and to pity the person for being so uncomfortable that they'd resort to such a silly retort.

Lastly, you should probably refrain from making these kind of jokes yourself, because people cannot be trusted to exercise great judgment about what's OK for someone to say about herself versus what's OK for you to speculate about her! If you blame your period for all sorts of stuff, it's only natural that other people will be tempted to do so too, whether it's in poor taste or not.

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