The Perks of Being a Woman (Kim Norris)

I came across this puff piece on Twitter; it’s written by a man and intended to advise other men on how to be an awesome boyfriend (or spouse, I suppose) when your lady has gotten a visit from her Aunt Flo.

The sheer cheek of men advising men on how a woman wants to be treated during her menstrual cycle notwithstanding - suggestion number one, after I had quit laughing, gave me pause.

“1. If possible, put her period in your calendar and take the two first days off from work.”
If you can shift your work schedule so that you have the first two days of her period off, then you’ll be rocking official superstar status in her book by being there for her.
Obviously this point works better if your significant other is relatively regular with when she gets her periods.
You get to spend time together, you get to be there for her when she’s in pain and lessen her suffering, and you get a few bonus days off from work. Win-win.”

The first thing that struck me was the overall sense of security that comes with being a man in the work force. Taking a couple of days off every twenty-eight days seems like a great idea for everyone – heaven knows we all work too hard, but as a woman, I can tell you, that doing so would endanger a woman’s career.

Women already earn less money than their male business counterparts, and women are statistically likely to have a male boss (as are men, by the way); to treat this natural, womanly, monthly occurrence as an illness requiring time off from work would act as a detriment when the woman is being considered for a promotion or raise. This is doubly true for working mothers who already face the stigma of having to take “extra” time off to pick up a sick child from school, take the child to a doctor, or simply stay home to nurture the child back to health.

There are women whose periods are so intense they may very well need to take time off from work on occasion. The women I know who are so encumbered usually go on the pill to regulate this though, because they can’t afford to miss that much time from work. This reality does, however, help the cause of our puff piece writer, because, as he correctly points out, you can’t put on a calendar something that isn’t regular.

The second thing that struck me was the notion that this man believes – and endeavors to convince other men, that a woman on her period wants nothing more than to spend quality cuddle time with her man.

Men, I am here, as a woman, to tell you it ain’t so.

I’m not saying that women are inherently anti-social during that time of the month. I’m not saying we don’t appreciate a man’s sympathetic concern for our pain and suffering (in my experience, queasy looks of apprehension are more the norm), but even if I could risk taking the time off from work, watching my significant other lollygag about on a “bonus day off” without also experiencing the cramps, bloating and mess would just annoy me. Seriously? Give yourself some time off to watch me feel like shit? I don’t think so.

At work or at home, when Aunt Flo comes to call, just don’t push our buttons; let us do our thing. If we bite your head off when you ask what’s for dinner, don’t take it personally. Order some delivery pizza and offer us a plate when it arrives. Don’t bother with the hot water bottle (Who sells those anymore, anyway? A heating pad, gents, a heating pad), don’t presume to anticipate my food cravings, and for God’s sake, please don’t try to read my mind about which movie I want to watch. They are all likely to make me cry during that time of the month anyway.

You want to lay in a supply of ibuprofen and tampons for me, fine, whatever makes you happy, but know that I’ve already laid in a supply of my own, because I have to.

It’s just one of the many perks of being a woman.

(My favorite bit of advice from the puff piece:

“...consider laying down a bath towel or two if you don’t want to get any of your fun-time juices on your new white bed sheets.”

I appreciate a man who thinks about the laundry.)

Kim Norris is a writer living in the New River Valley, Virginia. Her original essays and fiction can be found at her Blogspot and her Wordpress.