President Trump’s references to women and blood are offensive. The comments do more than demean women (that they do for sure) but they also reify the perception that blood is unnatural and that women’s bleeding is something to be avoided at all costs. It is as if women’s blood is somehow different from the blood of men; as best as I can tell, we all bleed the same red fluid — in peace and in war. I’m surprised he has not objected to women sweating; that would be dirty and unfeminine too.
For centuries, women and their menstrual cycles have been the subject of myths, symbols, studies, commentary and religious and cultural behaviors. Most often, the imagery of women and blood is negative: best to stay away from women who are menstruating: they destroy crops; they are unsanitary; they are bad luck.
When we realize that half the US population is composed of women, it seems odd that a natural biological process has been so distorted. And for the record, even men with a healthy view of women and equality are concerned about having intercourse with a menstruating woman; it is as if the presence of blood on their sacred organ will somehow damage it permanently.
Perhaps we would do well to invert the President’s distaste for women and their blood. Blood — especially cyclical bleeding — is a part of nature; it represents both the end of an opportunity for life and the start of a new opportunity. It represents creativity and femininity; it enables women to have a monthly-shared experience that strengthens them in a myriad of ways. For starters, women are used to blood and bleeding and pain and inconvenience. Might that account for some of women’s remarkable strengths?
We spend time in other nations and here in the US trying to debunk myths of menstruation. We provide drugs to women to stop menstruation for medical or personal reasons. We have a plethora of products designed to deal effectively with monthly bleeding. But, interestingly, menstruation and blood are still a taboo topic — as if women’s cyclical bleeding is something to be hidden behind closed doors. Just ask a man to buy a box of tampons. So is sweat — we mask it with deodorants and perfumes.
I worry when a President demeans women. I worry even more when that degradation is tied to blood, which is the essence of fertility and the laws of nature and the remarkable capacity of women’s bodies. What a sad example for young girls and women. But, bad as that is, it is a worse example for young boys and men.
If one were a Freudian analyst, perhaps one would just say that a man who loves tall buildings is worried about castration, thus the fear of blood. Perhaps our President also has few tears; they would evidence weakness, right? Would that all those tweets and comments were so easily explained.
For some reason, the whole incident brings to mind the phrase “blood, sweat and tears” (and the band of the same name). These three words are used to describe an extreme level of effort (a phrase that originated apparently with Churchill). The phrase explains how hard, for example, women need to work to be seen as equals. But apparently, no amount of blood, sweat or tears will help our President, our leader, realize the value of women. That’s more than offensive; it is inexcusable.