The origins of the periods taboo are many, and require considerable historical, geographical and theological study to understand why periods are still so stigmatized in 2020 in the West.
Since ancient times, menstruation has been the subject of myths and beliefs to describe it and try to understand its origins when science and medicine were still unable to do so. The periods were sometimes described as "sacred", a sign of "well-being", and sometimes as "dangerous" and "a sign of sin", yet they were always perceived as "powerful".
In Norse mythology, for example, the deity Thor had to bathe in a river filled with the menstrual blood of a giantess from the matrix of the "Almighty" to attain eternal life.
In Greek mythology, menstrual blood is even considered a powerful, addictive substance, the "supernatural red wine" offered by Hera to the gods.
For the Mayans, menstruation was associated with black magic and seen as a punishment. In the Veda, periods are even a manifestation of the sin of the god Indra, who had to divide himself into 4 parts to free himself: trees, water, fire and women.
Researchers then examined the interpretation of menstruation in the texts of various religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Shinto.
Sikhism is said to be the only religion to take a very positive approach to the subject in its writings. For example, this religion considers periods to be a biological process provided by God, and discrimination against women who have them is severely condemned. periods are severely condemned. As for other religious texts, they are very similar in the way they conceive of menstruation, and therefore women, as impure.
These similarities all point to the impurity of periods as spiritual, even dangerous. Women are therefore most often isolated, excluded and forbidden to touch other people, and forbidden to take part in religious practice during their periods. Almost all texts also mention the need to take a purifying bath at the end of periods, to free oneself from sin.
The researchers therefore believe that religious texts may be the main factor that, over time, has disseminated the belief that periods should be viewed with shame and fear. They also believe that all the mythological, religious and cultural interpretations of the menstrual cycle persist in our societies today, and are reflected in numerous negative behaviors towards periods. These attitudes are held by everyone: men and women alike, regardless of their social background, as well as by the scientific community.
Not so long ago, the scientific community also had a strong influence on this taboo. In the first part of the 20th century, a number of medical researchers in the United States attempted to scientifically prove the dangerousness of menstrual flow advanced by religious texts. They based their arguments on the theory of menotoxin toxicity in menstrual flow. In the 1960s, an Israeli gynecologist conducted experiments on sick animals to put an end to this sexist theory and prove that it was the bacteria, and not the menstrual blood, that killed them.
If such beliefs could have such a strong impact on a community like the scientific community, supposedly at the forefront of evolution, it's not surprising that their influence still persists when it comes to social behavior, educational methods and communication.
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