My Story: Understanding Why Women’s Health Has Been So Stigmatized

By Saniya Ghanoui —

XY describes how her mindset changed after learning more about menstrual health and learning about how the patriarchy frames women’s health.


OBOS Today: How has your mindset changed from, um, when you first started menstruating or just before you began to understand all of these social complexities and how everything kind of touches, connects, how everything is interconnected? Before you started to understand this, how do you think you, how do you think your mindset has changed or your outlook has changed?  

XY: I think that’s a really good question and I’ll try to be as succinct as possible, I think, my journey with my health challenge around menstruation has led me to honor myself more. I can get very emotional because I think in our lives we get [inaudible] like this so often, like the example that I gave. Even though I can feel physical pain, I still doubt myself, right, like, “Is this severe cramps from menstruation or is it, is something wrong? Or is it like, my body is just not right?” And um, so that’s one of the more super takeaways that I have. Is to honor myself and believe myself and love myself and another way my mindset has changed toward my menstruation is that it’s nothing to be ashamed about.

Coming from an Asian culture where menstruation has and being a woman has prevented me from participating in a lot of traditions and um, events, I realized that it, the misogyny runs deep. The simple fact that we bleed because of um, how our bodies are made, is being, made so complex and villainized into such a dirty thing and it shouldn’t be because menstruation is what keeps the species going, quite literally, you know. Men came from there; people came from there. Without the cycle, there’s no next generation and to really come to terms with the irony that many cultures villainize and avoid talking about menstruation and avoid looking at menstrual blood but rely on that very system that gives them life, um, it’s an irony that’s not lost on me.

And it’s also motivation for me to keep going and keep advocating and also to use my voice, you know, I started a website and blog recently last week because I decided that my voice is crucial to let other women, other people who has identities that are marginalized or stereotyped, for them to hear that you know, they belong and there’s nothing wrong with them and they have every reason to exist and to thrive in their own bodies.