I was pleasantly surprised when Period. End of Sentence won best documentary short at the Oscars on Sunday. I hadn’t actually seen the documentary but I voted for it on my home ballot because I thought it seemed like an important subject. For a while, I’ve been mulling over an essay idea about how periods are rarely represented in fiction and in film, even though it is a monthly occurrence in the lives of girls and women. The silence around it contributes both to a feeling of shame and a sense that it’s not really that important. But so many of my friends have gone through times in their lives when they were in a lot of pain because of their periods, and there’s very little in the way of treatment. Which is really kind of crazy, from a capitalist perspective, because how much money could you make if you offered women some pain relief during their periods?
I kept thinking of how flawed capitalism is as I watched Period. End of Sentence. on Netflix last night. (It’s streaming there, and it’s only about a half hour, so it’s an easy watch.) The documentary takes place in a rural part of India, and observes what happens to a group of women after a pad machine is installed in their village. There is a lot of shame and misinformation around menstruation, but soon several of the women are working at the pad machine and going door-to-door to sell them. It is a product that the local women desperately want, especially young women, who often skip school when they are on their periods. They eagerly buy pads, but admit that they are hesitant to purchase them at the store because it is too embarrassing to do so. Continue reading “Period. End of Sentence.”