Time was, we were pleasers. Many of us. Reluctant to rock the boat. Or we were merely inconsistent: disruptive one minute, dismissive the next, depending on mood and context. Then we grew in confidence and life became something of a soapbox. Politics, it dawned on us, was not about other people. And, when they were about other people, we saw that every person matters. And we had energy and righteousness and arrogance and we felt that it was both our right and our duty to be heard: over the dinner table to a boyfriend’s racist father, across a meeting room to a sexist marketeer, in a bar to some handsome moron. Did we change their minds? We tried.
And so, the other day, someone who I love said something ‘harmless’. They called period The Curse. And I minded. I truly minded. Because I feel that language has power and that The Curse seems to be perpetuating a perception of women as medieval witches or as fallen Eves or as some kind of filthy force for corruption. As unclean. As morally compromised. As afflicted with a monthly illness when, in fact, anything men can do, we can do bleeding. As wicked women rather than healthy women. I minded.
But I didn’t have the energy. This was the vernacular of her school days and I just couldn’t summon the verve to drag my soapbox out, clamber on to it and start shouting. My brain had too many tabs open that day and so I thought it but I didn’t say it. And then, I wondered, had I let the side down? And I decided not, for two reasons. The first is that it gave me the opportunity to marinade my thoughts and calmly work out why I had bristled. The second is because I then wrote this. Which, perhaps, is more effective than firing off a series of sanctimonious texts.