It's just one of those days that a girl goes through
When I'm angry inside,
Don't wanna take it out on you.
Just one of them things.
Don't take it personal.*
It wasn't until recently that women I knew complained about PMS. Aside from the odd mention, I never noticed friends or "colleagues" crediting pre-menstrual syndrome for their feelings or actions. To be honest, I was surprised so many women indicated their upcoming periods were the reason they were acting that way, or snapped at their boyfriend, or got pissed off. I've always felt at a bit of a loss when it comes to certain types of gendered things, the kind where people lean forward and say stuff like, "Well, you know how girls/guys are..." As a feminist, I found that I could come to terms with the fact that no rule applies to all, and they often didn't apply to me.
It's not that periods are a breeze for me- they are terrible. PMS is pretty much the only symptom I don't get, which I guess is where my lack of empathy comes from. I found myself feeling suspicious when the young women I know blamed PMS, wondering if it was the only way they could acceptably excuse their anger or emotions. PMS seemed to reinforce age-old ideas about women being too irrational/hysterical being able to handle, say, world diplomacy. And, of course, at the same time, I felt like a jerk for thinking these things. Though I haven't read For Her Own Good, I know the gist of it- that the medical establishment has consistently dismissed women's health complaints, PMS being one of those many things that were simply "in women's heads."
I was discussing these ideas with a friend recently, and she said bluntly, "Before my period, I feel suicidal." Similar things have been said to me by women affected by the hormones in birth control. Obviously hormones can affect women and men dramatically. Perhaps Lindsay Weir, in Freaks and Geeks, said it best, when responding to her father say a woman could never be president because of those three irrational days a month: "Men get periods too. It has to do with your 'body tide.'"
*OMG does anyone remember this song? And also when people wore tank tops over t-shirts for some reason? What a messed up trend.
PHOTO COURTESY MUSICSTACK.COM