If you are a man who loves men, you may want to leave the blog and come back tomorrow. Hell, if you are a man who loves women, you may want to leave the blog and come back tomorrow. However, if the latter sticks around—and if you are a man who loves women who has an actual woman in your life, be it sister/lover/daughter—you may find some clarity into “that time of the month” that is integral to today’s entry in Books that Shaped My Life. Yes, it’s Ms. Judy Blume and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
I don’t know how many girls read this book today, but certainly when I grew up, the “period book” was one of those must reads that every pre-pubescent girl devours upon a first read. In my book, The Truth (out next week in paperback!), I go into the nuances and needs of bleeding for women. From that first period on, women are beholden to their monthly cycle on some level. Somehow, Judy Blume captured that essential angst that menstruating is for girls without making it prurient or creepy. I can only imagine the pitch she gave her publisher: “I want to write about impending puberty, specifically the longing/dread of a girl’s first period.” Heaven only knows how she got it passed her editor.
The reality is that even 42 years after it was first published, we still don’t talk to girls (or boys!) about the reality that 1/2 of the population bleeds on a monthly basis. And if we don’t, well, there’s a reason for that. It’s quite shocking to me that there still are girls hitting puberty who know nothing about what a period is or why it happens. And I’m talking about girls in the U.S., not Afghanistan! There is still a weird taint to a natural process that every healthy woman undergoes for the bulk of her lifetime. It would be great to say that today’s society no longer needs Judy Blume, whereas—in fact—today’s girls may need her more than ever.