Periods suck. Period.

It’s something we all know and accept (or at least, we should). In fact, one company in Bristol feels so strongly about it that they are enforcing a new ‘period policy’, in which women will be encouraged to take time off during their period. They’re not the first company in the world to do so by a long shot – companies in China, Taiwan, Indonesia and South Korea have laws in place to allow female workers time off during menstruation, and even Nike officially include it in their Code of Conduct.

But is this really a good idea?

Yeah, we’ve all been there. Your Aunt Flo comes for her monthly visit and all you want to do is stay in bed with a hot water bottle and the new series of House of Cards playing back-to-back episodes. The last place you want to be is at work, on your feet all day with an aching back and a stomach that feels like it’s ripping you apart from the inside out. Like I said, we all know periods suck.

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But do we really want to slip back into the almost comical mindsets of the ‘5os? A mindset that suggests women can’t do anything whilst on their periods? While some sanitary towel adverts might take it a bit too far (who on earth has a happy period?), it’s not like women just become utterly useless the minute a little bit of blood begins to flow. It’s an uncomfortable inconvenience that most of us have had to get used to from a young age, and for many of us it is a natural part of life.

Of course, for some women it’s not as simple as that. There are a fair amount of women for whom periods really are excrutiating. I have known enough women who have had to repeatedly go to the hospital to know that this isn’t a case of some people “just being wimps”. It’s a reality that, although most of us can pass the month with only moderate pain and discomfort, there are many women out there who really are in agony. Who become very ill every month. Who feel the need to struggle into work due to others who believe that “periods aren’t that bad”.

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And it’s for those women that this policy has been discussed. So of course, this company is raising interesting and very necessary arguments about a subject that is so taboo the government continues to tax us for experiencing it. But a separate policy of its own isn’t necessary – what we need is a proper conversation in which women’s health can be taken as seriously as men’s. If you had a headache, would you call in sick to work? No, of course not, you’d pop a few paracetamol and soldier on. But if you suffered from blinding migraines, constantly visited the doctor in your spare time, and were expected to go into work anyway? Things would start to look a little unfair.

Yes, this period policy has its flaws. Not all cramps are created equal. But for the women who suffer from endometriosis, excruciating pain and other serious issues, perhaps this discussion will open up to a future where women are allowed to take the necessary time to recover from their very real illnesses without being branded a ‘pussy’.

Because as we’ve discussed, pussies (like women) have a lot to put up with…

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