Menstruation Does Not Equal Feminine

[At least half of my response is critiquing part of the caption, which has been edited in order to not sound angry, passive-aggressive, or salty. Like, I don’t particularly care if no one reads my personal responses to the questions, but please take away that menstruation =/= feminine. You can just call someone a menstruator, which doesn’t presume anything about their gender.]

No # post: Menstruation & Hormones

Source. Captioned: These questions were suggested by bugsdaffy4401duck. We sincerely hope that our male followers will forgive us for delving into a uniquely feminine area.

Part of the caption: “We sincerely hope that our male followers will forgive us for delving into a uniquely feminine area” (emphasis mine).

One hand: Yes, working on breaking down US culture around the taboo of talking about menstruation is important. Depending on where you live and your access to sex ed without Christian overtones (that often tie into purity culture), there are adults who need accurate information about what their bodies are doing and how to effectively manage their menstruation experience (ex. the difference between ‘everything is normal’ and ‘something is wrong’ period pain). Cis women do need places where they can talk about this sort of stuff, and I’m not trying to silence anyone.

Other hand: There are trans men and transmasculine people who also menstruate. [Example #1, #2, #3, and not every trans man experiences dysphoria around menstruation (#4).] Objectively, you can repeat to yourself that menstruation is not an inherently feminine act, but you also can’t wave a magic wand and make a lifetime of socialization disappear (menarche is a sign that “you’re a woman now”, menstrual products are marketed and shelved as “feminine products”, menstrual product dispensers and those little bins in the stalls are in women’s restrooms, the way some women frame insertable products (tampons, cups) as better than pads even though transmasculine people may find pads better for their dysphoria, etc.).

Third hand: I’ve only ever come across anecdotal stories, but some trans women who are on HRT may experience cramping and other PMS symptoms on a cyclical basis. This isn’t to say that their experiences with period pain/discomfort are exactly the same as a cis woman’s, but there are women who do not menstruate [Yes, Trans Women Can Get Period Symptoms]. “There is no singular universal definition of womanhood. We cannot be reduced to vaginas alone, nor periods, nor motherhood” [I’ve Never Had a Period But I’m Still a Woman].

Fourth hand: There’s not really a singular, all encompassing way that a nonbinary person relates to menstruation because it will depend on their particular dysphoria and any specific labels. [What Trans & Non-Binary Menstruators Should Know About Periods; that writer’s perspective.] Personally, it is not a newsflash to me that my body is doing something in line with the average cis woman’s body because I was assigned female at birth and haven’t taken medical steps to alter my body, but I don’t feel comfortable with describing this bodily function as feminine. I try to avoid female = feminine because people can wind up going female (sex) = woman (gender) = feminine; even though they may mean well, “females” becomes a substitute for “women” instead of meaning those AFAB. I am a menstruator, a person who menstruates.

Hormones

Menstruation and the hormonal fluctuations that tag along are something about my body that I cannot control. I can’t submit to someone when I’m dealing with PMS and menstruation; I need to exert control over something and that is more likely to come out as Dominance instead of submission. If I were in an established dynamic with a Dominant who didn’t have any switch tendencies and didn’t want to offer submission, even in a slight way (no scenes or play, but perhaps a change in titles, f’ex), I’d honestly need a break from the dynamic.

Some people write like they hate the idea of taking a break from a dynamic and having days where someone says, ‘I’m not feeling it today’, but I’m not incorporating managing menstruation into a dynamic where I’m a sub. You can be the most loving, caring, understanding, well meaning Dominant, and you can come up with The Best Self Care Plan, but I can’t ‘give’ you my body at a time like that. I can’t be your property, you can’t own my body, you can’t talk about my body possessively, and there’s no marking, claiming, MINE stuff. Doesn’t matter if you’re a menstruator or a non-menstruator; I need to manage my own self care because this is my body.

There are people who will think this is a bit absolute and very unsubmissive. I might find that I can have a dynamic where I just need to have a different level of protocol, rules, and technically not take a break with a *particular* Dominant. Personally, I would rather set large boundaries on this in the beginning and discover where I’m comfortable adjusting them later after my partner experiences a few cycles. Just sharing that it’s happening can be nerve-wracking enough because I’ve grown up trying to hide that I menstruate to avoid ‘time of the month’ teasing (of course you cried at that picture of a cute puppy, a variety of cat noises or bitch comments if I snap or get short with someone, it’s no wonder you’re eating like that, etc.).

Period Pain

I’ve never done pain play while menstruating, but I know from my past experiences with activity that would be considered self-injurious that it would be safer for me not to mix these activities. I’m not equating pain play and self-injury, but sometimes, the lines can get blurry, especially all the mental stuff going on inside the bottom’s head. I can see myself wanting to be hurt in some way so I can escape what else is going on with my body (as opposed to using pain to ground). Punishing my body in the short-term might feel alright (neurotransmitters, adrenaline, and stuff), but long-term I can’t build up that habit without firmly entrenching the connection between ‘body is menstruating’ and ‘body needs punished’.

Emotional Fluctuations

Not to be too glib, but everyone is always hormonal. In theory, those AMAB experience a daily cycle of fluctuating testosterone and those AFAB experience a monthly cycle of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone (AMAB people also have estrogen, and there are activities that can cause hormonal fluctuations outside of these rough cycles, but this isn’t a full breakdown of endocrinology). Have I ever gotten into an argument solely due to monthly hormonal fluctuations? No, but I’ve certainly found myself with a shorter rope that makes it harder to ignore other stressors I may experience (for the cis: misgendering is a stressor), which tends to get eaten up by pretending to everyone outside my living space that nothing is amiss. Inside the living space, there’s a lot of biting my tongue because I actually don’t want to come across like That Bitch who bites everyone’s heads off. (Will this reduce when I can shift around the closets I’m in and reduce overall misgendering and dysphoria? Possibly.)

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