Over the weekend I was at a dinner party/bbq hosted by a friend of my husband. This friend is a single father of two teenage girls who were both present and unlike a lot of teenagers, were actively engaged in the conversations around them instead of being glued to their smart phones or having earphones plugged firmly in their ears. The youngest Sara* is in grade 10 and the older Rebecca* is happy to be finishing her high school experience as she is in her senior year. We talked a lot about prom and what she was wearing, who she was going with and the like. The girls were open and friendly and after a while Rebecca asked what I did for a living. I try to never go anywhere without a few Feby bracelets with me so I pulled two out out of my purse and gave one to each of them and explained what it was all about.
"This is really cool. Honestly, you are telling me things that I know nothing about." said Rebecca as she fiddled with the bracelet on her wrist.
"Well, I'm sure you've gotten some information from school in your sex ed class?" I said.
"Um, no. Not really."
"But you're graduating in less than a month. How can that be?"
Rebecca shrugged. "Well, I know a bit about periods and how to use pads and tampons and that the fact that since I get my period means I could get pregnant if I have sex but that's really it. I do go to a Catholic school so I'm not sure if that has to do with the lack of information. I know nothing about the changing moods and this PMS you're talking about or what happens at ovulation."
I wish I could say I was surprised but unfortunately, I wasn't. What she learned in 2016 is basically the same limited things I learned in 1984. I genuinely don't understand how we can live in a world of smart phones and drones and instant everything but young women are sent off into the world from their mandatory schooling with the bare minimum of knowledge about the workings of their own incredible bodies. How can this intelligent, vibrant, engaged young woman be graduating high school knowing only that she can now get pregnant if she has sex and that she can use pads or tampons during her period? Where is the discussion about birth control options? About menstrual management options including a cup? About the changes she can expect on a monthly basis? How PMS affects up to 80% of women and to know the signs so you will also know it can be managed and perhaps, more importantly, that it will pass?
When you think of all the lessons learned in the 12 plus years of a traditional education, what could be more important than understanding, intricately, the body that you live in?
Conversations like this further my resolve to keep on keeping on. #MenstruationMatters and the next generation deserves to know this.