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MENSTRUATION, i.e., the act of a woman's uterus shedding a month's worth of unused blood-lining, is not typically written about in novels. Kind of strange, considering there are a BATOOKUS-TON of young adult female protagonists on the market these days. Maybe they're all on the same cycle? I don't know. Could be.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST IT
First of all, ew! | Periods have never been taboo-talk in my family, so years ago I casually mentioned something about my period to an acquaintance. My bad. Judging from her shock, it is not such a free topic in her home. This surprised me, because a) we're both young women, and b) therefore have periods. Maybe I was wrong and she's a robot still trying to successfully integrate into society. Oops.
This is super shocking, you guys. | Okay, yes, maybe if I went into detail - this is not your normal blood, guys: this is like, goopy, bomb-went-off, half-coagulated junk here - YEAH, that could be a real turn-off if I was reading this book.
We don't write people using the toilet, do we...? | So, you might ask, why write about a woman's period?
WHY YOU SHOULD WRITE IT
This is not the same as using the toilet. | A woman's period is more than just discharged blood. It has a major physical and psychological impact on a woman, and both of those aspects heavily impact your character in a novel. The monthly cycle is part of who we all are as women, something we bear, deal with, and overcome on a MONTHLY BASIS. That makes us pretty awesome, considering. Why deny that to your characters? This is a human trait that has both oppressed and empowered women all across the world and through history. WE CONQUER THIS. SO SHOULD YOUR CHARACTERS.
WHY YOU SHOULDN'T GO THROWING UTERUSES ALL OVER YOUR PLOT
Let's not get carried away! | Maybe - MAYBE - there is a legitimate reason to have a character use the bathroom. Otherwise, we just assume that they go between chapter breaks, you know? It doesn't need press. Likewise for periods. Don't hurl them at your women for the mere sake of authenticity.
Periods need to improve/work with the plot. | If there is no point to having your character experience a period, DON'T PUT IT IN. Personal anecdote: I chose to include menstruation in one of my manuscripts because it was a pivotal point to the plot. (Still squeamish? Look, I've already done it. You're welcome!)
DIMENSION, EDUCATION, GROWTH
Emotional connection. | When appropriate, the addition of a character's menstrual cycle lends depth and authenticity to the plot. We become more acquainted with her. We share her struggles. We appreciate what she overcomes. We grapple with her when this handicap becomes a physical barrier to her progress.
Understanding. | For those who are not women (hi, guys!), and aren't acquainted with this monthly monster that we deal with, this is us. Yes, we are the weaker vessel, but being weaker doesn't equal WEAK. Millions of women across the globe shoulder this burden every. single. month. We want you to know this so that you can better understand the inscrutable creature - woman.
The champion. | In your novels, as in my manuscript, this becomes a personal demon which pays no allegiance to time, weather, circumstance, and convenience. The girl has to take the punch when it comes - there is no ducking. But the act of getting up after a blow is what we ALL love to see in our characters.
have you ever included menstruation in a novel? do you think you ever would?
image via *drumroll* pinterest