Gender & Identity, Life

I’m ashamed of eating when I have my period in Ramadan, and it makes no sense

Why do we act like we don't get periods?

So if you’re a person with a uterus, there’s this major responsibility in the process of creating another being: getting our periods.

Regardless of why we get periods, let’s focus on why we act like we don’t get them. And there is no better practical example of this condition than that manifested in the combination of Ramadan, Muslim public places, and ladies on their periods.

You, most probably, already know how common period shaming is worldwide. Well, imagine experiencing the concentrated version that comes with living in inherently conservative societies.

As Muslim women, we have been given the divine license to not fast during this holy month while on our periods, mainly because we’re usually weaker than normal days to bear fasting. But, if we can’t sneak a bite or a sip at work, we march on till Maghrib like we are the champions.

We’ve been raised to abstain from eating publicly if we’re on our periods in Ramadan, because, God forbid, a guy might suspect that our bodies are functioning how they are supposed to be functioning.

So, it’s not enough that we endure periods every time they happen, but we add insult to injury by sucking it up and forbidding ourselves the perks they bring us. Hiding in the bathroom to eat or drink. Sneaking mini bites while dodging the eyes of men, ordering food under the name of your Christian friend. These are the all too familiar inconveniences of being on your period in Ramadan, and we are all tired of them.

Every Ramadan, I think to myself, ” This is the Ramadan when I’ll shatter social confinements and eat in broad daylight! I’m not doing anything that is haraam, and men should just grow up! Humph.”

But I don’t do anything.

I would sometimes reason with myself and think, “Well, I’m not saying, eff it and order yourself a Big Tasty from McDonald’s, announcing my situation to the world à la Tom Hanks in Cast Away when he made fire.” I mean, I don’t want to be that blunt, neither am I interested in gaining myself a hateful crowd with the intoxicating smell of my French Fires.

Yet, I continue to act all cloak and dagger about it with the rest of my lady colleagues.

You might think, why not settle for halfway measures? Like if I really, really want that morning coffee, nothing will happen if I make it myself, instead of ordering it and go sip on it discretely at my desk. Or maybe bring myself a little non-aromatic sandwich and enjoy it at a spot with low traffic.

Yes. That makes perfect sense, but it’s easier said than done.

Why?

Well, you see, it all comes down to the fact that we live in a patriarchal world which succeeded long ago in socially conditioning women to think that they are lesser beings. It is old news, I know. But, to women, it still is a daily reality and an ongoing struggle. It has infiltrated us so deeply, that we ourselves regard fellow women who dare to practice their basic rights in spite of society as heroines. What kind of society is that that downplays our struggles to such rudimentary matters of life?  That reduces our dreams and hopes to the practicing of our simplest God-given rights?

Do I mean to start a revolution?

No. All I want is for us women to be easy on ourselves and allow ourselves to publicly embrace everything that comes along with being a woman. I’m not for shocking statements of defiance because they backfire and are just silly. But I am for gradual change by having society readily acquiesce in our case until they accept what they couldn’t before, as long as there is nothing wrong with it and it’s not against our beliefs.

Maybe it’s not all that easy. Maybe this is too forward. But women need to stop being apologetic about their periods and, more importantly, about existing.

Frankly, nobody will come up to me and embarrass me if I eat publicly during Ramadan. It is all just in my head. And even if they do, that would be their problem, not mine.

But I still struggle to apply that. So, if you’re a lady who dumps nonsensical social conventions in the garbage bin, then power to you.

But if you’re like the rest of us who still can’t, I feel you and I ask you, what do you think of this suppressing legacy we inherited, and how about changing it?