I’ve got a theory. And that theory is that if both men and women had children, it would be all we talked about, all the time.
I don’t mean in some kind of “aren’t we amazing, we produced a life” type way (although, that too), I mean in a “Holy cow, did that really happen? Can we just run this by you one more time” type way.
We’d always be sharing our tales of abject misery or bragging about how quickly we evicted little Freddie. We’d be comparing blood loss, admiring stitches, reviewing the best pile remedies, discussing the merits of salt baths over lavender and opening up about how we were opened up.
There would be no shame or humiliation involved with the experience. After all, everyone writhes around on the bed with their private areas exposed to a room full of strangers while someone discreetly slings that turd into a waste receptacle. It’s so normal no one cringes when the lunch lady pops her head round the door to ask what sandwich you want while the consultant tries to put your vagina back how it was when they found it.
The whole harrowing/amazing/actually pretty gross experience [delete as applicable] would be such an important part of our lives that we’d bore the children with it every year at Christmas. It would be everyone’s family tradition. Gather round, kiddies, mummy and daddy are going to share their birthing stories again.
And the more we talked about it, and pondered why so many of us mooed our way through second stage, the more normal it would all become. The more normal it became, the less squeamish we’d be about our bodies and about our periods. After all, periods would simply be a bodily function everyone experiences, part of being an adult.
And once periods were moved up above shit, snot, piss and vomit on the list of Most Gross Bodily Fluids, we would start to see our menses as the lifeblood of the human race, as the marker for all the births we’ve experienced and all the wounds we’ve carried, rather than a revolting, shameful liquid. If we all had periods, the coming of age comedy, Superbad, would no longer feature Jonah Hill reacting to the period blood on his trousers like it was about to crawl along his leg and gobble up his manhood.
I’m not suggesting it should be collected into receptacles and revered like some kind of potent elixir, a period would still be a right royal pain in the vulva, but we wouldn’t live in a world where 52% of the population was expected never to speak of such lady-based horrors in mixed company. In this parallel universe, where men and women gave birth to the human race, people would know that menstrual fluid is not so disgusting we have to use blue water to advertise sanitary products, that getting a bit on your trousers just means you need to wash your trousers. We wouldn’t live in a world where period blood is revolting and shameful, but a zombie torso leaking innards, covered in non-period blood, crawling along a front lawn is wonderful entertainment.
The blood that once held the potential to nurture a whole new life from scratch would no longer be the bad kind of blood and poor Jonah could finally think about it without wanting to vomit.
If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy my free email series for new mothers returning to work. It’s self-help but with swearing and embarrassing stories and hopefully a few laughs. There’s no upsell — I wrote it because it’s the course I wish I could have gone on after I had my first child. Sign up or read an excerpt at katielee.co.uk/this-was-my-mum-life-crisis