Love + Sex, Love, Health

15 snarky comebacks for people trying to police our bodies and our periods

This is for those who are tired of the mansplainers, the naive apologists, and the "just take a Tylenol and move on-ers."

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Presented in partnership with  Lunapads.

We get it – we’re sick of it, too.

It’s a statement of fact that nearly 50% of the world’s population is currently menstruating, has menstruated, or will menstruate at some point in their lives. Despite the fact that periods are a part of our human biology, others frequently try to invalidate our experiences by resorting to old wives’ tales or patriarchal notions.

This is for those who are tired of the mansplainers, the naive apologists, and the “just take a Tylenol and move on-ers”. So here are some of the ridiculous things people have ever said about us, our bodies, and our periods – and how we’re striking back.

1. “Suck it up, this is just part of being a woman.”

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This is the classic “I don’t have a single empathetic bone in my body, and you should just deal with it” statement. Not to mention the fact that it leaves out a major group of human beings: people who menstruate, period.

While menstruation isn’t a one-size-fits all process, some of the most widely-experienced physical symptoms include bloating, cramps, head and back aches, acne, and swollen breasts. Aside from that, there are emotional effects as well, and this has to do with the levels of estrogen in our bodies. Right before a period begins, estrogen levels spike drastically (during ovulation) and then drop again once the egg is released. This disruption can trigger a change in mood – which can often lead to depression and anxiety.

Periods are part of being a menstruating person, but no one experiences their period the same way. There are physical and emotional changes that come with the process, and guess what – they’re real.  Yes, we’re amazing, and we can handle all of these things while carrying on about our days normally.

Periods are part of being a menstruating person, but nobody's period is the same. Click To Tweet

But understanding exactly what goes on during Aunt Flo’s visit will keep you from saying bullsh*t statements like this.

2. “We should talk about this later because you’re on your period right now. “

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It’s a common misconception held by men (and some women, I kid you not) that a person is incapable of making important decisions or holding level conversations while menstruating. While it’s true that some may experience anxiety or depression before or during their periods, it’s erroneous to equate that with competence.

Look around you – some of the most influential badasses on this earth are people that have periods, and – surprise! – they probably menstruate once a month too! The difficult aspects of periods are a measure of strength, because not only can we deal with all of that – we can also get on with running the world.

3. “Your period isn’t something to be proud of. Stop talking so much about it!”

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Okay, first off, when was the last time I heard a guy refrain from an inappropriate dick joke? If I have the patience to bear through countless “that’s what she said” jokes anytime there’s something even slightly close to a sex reference, I’m pretty sure you can get through what she actually says.

Also, for the record, I’m going to be PROUD AND LOUD AND PRANCE AND DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT.

Even if that means wearing ridiculous white jeans during my period like they show in most sanitary product ads. Except for this time, when I’m going to have a killer secret weapon in the equation (and no, it’s not my blood before you start getting all grossed out).

I’m talking about leak-proof underwear, like this one.

4. “Yikes, girl, you be lookin’ hella bloated in those jeans. Maybe you should give them up this week.”

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Bloating is just the name of the game when it comes to our week with Aunt Flo, and choosing what to wear is a calculated risk, no matter what it is. Jeans, dresses, sweats – all are susceptible to The Stain.

So why not wear what I want anyway? I look fabulous, and I’ll wear what makes me comfortable, thank you very much.

One thing that I’ve found particularly effective to minimize bloating is to take a Midol and some hot green tea with honey. It’s soothing, forces you to slow down for at least five minutes in the day, and tastes good (duh). Bloating is real – and it’s one heck of a nuisance – but no one should be shaming you for it, ever.

You know how the saying goes: if you can’t handle my bloat at its worst, you don’t deserve it at its best. 

5. “I don’t get it. Only women can get periods. Why are you making this a social justice thing?”

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WHY. WHY. WHY.

Why do we take a leap back after every leap forward? Just because you grew up with preconceived notions about what gender, sex, and biology are “supposed” to be, doesn’t mean you have to impose that on everyone else. Especially not on people who already have to deal with that once-a-month friend. It’s complex enough for non-binary and trans individuals to navigate the world without a helping of your bullshit, thanks.

Besides, gender has always been an incredibly complex and fluid spectrum. If you’re here to give me a lecture rife with stereotypes, toxic masculinity, and a dose of fragility, I don’t have time for it. You’re really not helping anyone except for yourself.

6. “Ugh, you got it on the bed…that’s disgusting.”

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We run the risk of ruining our underwear, pajama bottoms, pants, sheets, towels, and seat cushions – but you know what? That doesn’t stop the flow.

Did you know that the average person who menstruates will pass between 10-35 ml (that’s anywhere between two teaspoons to two to three tablespoons) of blood per period, and experience that about 450 times in a lifetime?

That’s a lot of blood.

And a lot of periods.

Sorry, I’m not capable of controlling my natural blood-flow while I’m unconscious and sleeping. There’s a lot coming out of me – and a lot more to come – so I’ll just try to sleep soundly and keep an extra bottle of Tide handy in the meantime.

7. “Reusable pads aren’t legit, there’s no way they can hold all that blood.”

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Before I tried them for myself, I was told (and believed) that reusable pads were disgusting, and something I should avoid. Let me tell you, y’all – reusable pads revolutionized the way I experienced my period. And yes – it holds all the blood you pass during the day! There are even different sizes (from mini to maxi), and even special liners for the thong-wearers among us.

Although, I’ll be honest: my flow is way too crazy for thongs, but you do you.

In addition to being chemical-free, period panties and reusable pads are carefully engineered to be as absorbent as possible. Plus, many of these options, including Performa Lunapads, are machine washable (!!!) and can be soaked before you toss them in the machine, in case you’re really worried about them getting clean.

P.S. They come in super cute prints too, including this adorable llama one that I’m quite partial to.

Bottom line (yes, pun intended): give reusable pads a chance.

8. “Don’t get anywhere near me. You smell awful.”

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Okay, I know how I smell like. That extra fragrance in the room didn’t just come out of nowhere, it’s damn expensive perfume, thanks to the paranoia I already have. It’s a paranoia that people like you spent years telling me that I have, and I’m not too interested in hearing it again from ya.

We're not in elementary school anymore, but you seem to have missed the memo. Click To Tweet

But that smell in the room of your overuse of Axe cologne is totally something we need to discuss. Because we’re not in elementary school anymore, and someone seems to have missed the memo.

How about you take care of your personal hygiene before you talk about mine? And yes, I’m talking about you, mister. The guys out of the basketball or gym, smelling like everything under the sun, telling me I smell bad?

Miss me with that bullshit.

9. “Here, take this pad, but smuggle it on your way out. Don’t let anybody know you’re on your period!”

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What am I, some expensive art thief out of the Ocean’s Eleven series? There’s no need for me to carry out some sort of secret-agent sequence to get to the bathroom and change my pad.

To be honest, though, changing your pad several times a day can be a pain. Sometimes the daily hustle keeps us from getting a much-needed 5-minute refresher. That’s why reusable pads are so useful. You snap it in once – bam – and forget it’s even there all day. Comfort? Check. Safe from “embarrassment?” Check. We both win here.

I don’t have to smuggle my pad, and I have one that lasts me the entire day.

10. “You can hold out until the end of the hour to get up and use the restroom.”

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Sometimes we can’t go to the bathroom because our schedules are that demanding (see: point 5). But does anyone remember the awful classroom rules that had you waiting until the end of the hour to relieve yourself?

Those things were brutal.

I’m going to venture where most won’t: the land of Period Poop. It’s true: being on your period will inevitably mean you will poop more. This due to a  fun little chemical called prostaglandin – it tells your uterus when to contract and release its lining. If there’s enough prostaglandin in your body, your bowels may pick up on the signals too, and interpret that as a call to release “The Poop”.

Are you really trying to make me fight that? Nah. I’m gonna use the bathroom now.

11. “We could never have a female president! Think about what she’d do when she’s on her period!”

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Oh dear. If she can negotiate a ceasefire, negotiate a top sanction, help families that need healthcare, and stand up for LGBTQ+ rights, and be an all-around badass, is there anything she can’t do? Let’s be clear here for a second. You’ve got a male president who seems like he’s getting worse cramps than I ever had.

AND HE’S NOT EVEN ON HIS PERIOD.

Next time you want to smear dirt on a politician, let’s move gender out of the equation. It’s 2017. We should be over the female anatomy already, geez.

12. “Tampons and period cups stretch you out too much down there, don’t use ’em.”

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Vaginas are extremely elastic – capable of expanding 200% when sexually aroused, and even more so when giving birth. This means that it returns to its usual “tightness” no matter what goes in or out of it.  Tampons and menstrual cups are designed to fit comfortably in women’s bodies: menstrual cups are made of medically-approved silicone or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) and fold during insertion, so they’ll expand as necessary once they’re under your cervix. Tampons are made of soft cotton, shaped into a cylinder – this is designed for easy insertion into (and up) the vaginal canal.

We should be over the female anatomy already, geez. Click To Tweet

What’s most important is using what makes you most comfortable on your period.

13. “You should never use reusable pads while on your period, that’s gross.” 

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Some people aren’t comfortable using tampons or menstrual cups and prefer alternatives that don’t require inserting anything. Other options include pads – but they can be costly or a hassle to maintain. Another alternative is reusable pads. Not only are they super comfortable and convenient, they’re  cost-effective and environmentally friendly, to boot.

@Lunapads work - so nobody should be knocking your choice of menstrual product. Click To Tweet

Lunapads are reusable cotton pads that can be washed and used over and over again. I personally used the Performa Mini Pad for my most recent period, and it was so damn comfortable, I forgot I was even wearing it. The easy snap-on feature prevented it from slipping and sliding, and it wasn’t gross at all.

Lunapads are tried and true – so nobody should be knocking your choice of menstrual product.

14. “If you can’t even get your period, does that even make you a woman?”

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No, you’re right, it probably doesn’t.

Because I forgot the right to my gender was in your hands, and you get to decide what I am and what I’m not. No, I totally don’t smell ignorance or misogyny or transphobia for that matter. Nope, nada, nothing to see here. Just your average idiotic individual who’s trying to explain to me the science of my own body, and who probably will call women going through menopause that they’re not women either.

Yup, every elder woman is secretly pretending to be a woman. She’s not REALLY a woman because I totally forgot that any proof of her bodily functions was lost when her period stopped.

Doesn’t make sense?

Go read that first sentence, and compare? *Grins with smugness*

15. “Don’t let anyone know you’re on your period this week.”

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People like to pretend this isn’t something that roughly 50% of the world’s population has, is, or will go through at some point in their life. Why spare them the truth? I’m menstruating.

Boo! Secret’s out.

Asma Elgamal

Asma Elgamal

Asma Elgamal is our Head News + Society Editor at The Tempest. She's currently a student at Harvard University.

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