Guest Post: Paid Menstrual Leave?

Paid Menstrual Leave – it’s time!  

by DeAnna L’am. Reprinted with permission.

A Russian lawmaker has asked parliament to give women two days paid leave a month when they menstruate… Mikhail Degtyaryov, a member of the nationalist LDPR party, wrote on his website “During that period (of menstruation), most women experience psychological and physiological discomfort. The pain for the fair sex is often so intense that it is necessary to call an ambulance”… Scientists and gynecologists look on difficult menstruation not only as a medical, but also a social problem…” ~ Standard Digital, August 2013

Fascinating! Lets look at how good things are turned on their heads, yet again, to result (unsurprisingly) in women’s dis-empowerment.

Indeed, a paid monthly Menstrual Leave would be an honoring, empowering option for women worldwide. Yet proposing it for all the wrong reasons diminishes us, and our cyclicity, to “a social problem.”

Campaigns have been initiated over the years under the guise of empowering women, which ended up diminishing, dis-empowering, and ultimately killing us! Marketing guru Edward Bernays was hired in 1928 by an American Tobacco Company president to increase sales of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Sigmond Freud’s work was utilized to expand understanding of ‘What Women Want’ and capitalize on it for marketing purposes.

Realizing that women were motivated and empowered by the suffrage movement, Bernays manipulated a real need – into a persuasive sales tactic. He hired women to march in the Easted Sunday parade smoking what he cleverly named their “Torches of Freedom.” Bernays succeeded overnight: he persuaded women to pick up an unhealthy habit, and commit to spending their hard earned money for years, by equating cigarettes with personal freedom and equality to men. Smoking among women exploded into unparalleled heights. Their personal freedom and equality to men continued to suffer…

Similarly, women were encouraged by manipulative campaigns to start giving birth in hospitals after countless generations of home births. Many new hospitals were built as a result of Second World War, to accommodate the staggering number of injured soldiers returning from battle. It took a few years for most hospitals to empty, as wounded soldiers either recovered or died. Faced with many large vacant hospital buildings and idle staff, administrators procured and released ad campaigns, which sinisterly manipulated women to believe that giving birth at home was ‘primitive’ and unsafe, while birthing at the hospital was promoted as safer, ‘modern’, and a highly intelligent choice.

Women bought into these campaigns, and many others like them, all over the world. They started smoking and felt ‘glamorous’. They started giving birth in hospitals and felt ‘modern’. They started using disposable menstrual products and felt ‘progressive’ and ‘in control.’ All along they have also been developing an array of respiratory diseases and dying of lung cancer; They have been cut open in cesarean sections (1 in 4, to accommodate doctor’s convenience); They have reached an all-time-high maternal and infant mortality rates following hospital birth; And they have been contributing to our planetary ecological crisis by damping 12 billion “feminine hygiene” products into landfills every year, in the U.S.A. Alone!

And here we are: In the midst of a pioneering worldwide movement of women reclaiming menstruation as the heightened state of awareness for which it was recognized in all indigenous cultures; In the process of inspiring women to honor their menstrual blood and their body’s needs, by taking time off to rest and renew themselves on the first day of their period — we are faced with a legal initiative which is both revolutionary and reactionary at the same time!

Wouldn’t it be revolutionary for the workplace to grant Paid Menstrual Leave to women? Wouldn’t we feel validated in our need for rejuvenation, honored for our body’s monthly regeneration, and empowered by the cultural acknowledgment of our rhythm?

We certainly would, if it weren’t billed as a response to “a social problem” of the “fair sex” who suffers “psychological and physiological discomfort.” Our menstrual cycle is neither a social problem nor a mere discomfort. Our menstrual flow is profound and life affirming work performed monthly by our bodies. We need to rest and renew in response to it, or we develop symptoms labled “psychological and physiological discomfort” by our culture (and frequently by us, too…)

Cigarettes, hospital births, and disposable menstrual products were sold to us through clever manipulative tactics, yet we never needed them… We DO NEED Paid Menstrual Leave!

We have stopped smoking in drovers. We have been reclaiming home births, and have started using sustainable menstrual products (such as cloth pads, sea sponges, and menstrual cups). It is time to claim for ourselves, and demand from our culture, a monthly PML to replace PMS!

PML (Paid Menstrual Leave) is the deeply deserved rest our body, mind, and spirit need monthly. In its absence, our body screams in PMS pain, and will continue to do so until we listen to its needs and honor them.

This is a call for action! Lets unite in demanding legaly-bound Paid Menstrual Leave — not as a patronizing gesture designed to send us home for being a “social problem.” But rather as the honoring of a deep need, which springs from our depth, to renew our body, our emotions, and our spirit – monthly – while preparing for another cycle in the ever turning wheel of our lives.  


© 2013, DeAnna L’am, Red Moon – Cycles of Women’s Wisdom™

DeAnna L’am, (B.A.) speaker, coach, and trainer, is author of ‘Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood’ and ‘A Diva’s guide to Getting Your Period’. She is founder of Red Moon School of Empowerment for Women & Girls™ and of Red Tents In Every Neighborhood – Global Network. Her pioneering work has been transforming women’s & girls’ lives around the world, for over 20 years.

DeAnna helps women & girls love themselves unconditionally! She specializes in helping women make peace with their cycle; Instructs Moms in the art of welcoming girls to empowered womanhood, and trains women to hold RED TENTS in their communities. Visit her at: www.deannalam.com

Disclaimer: I am a Red Moon program affiliate. However, the only affiliate link in this post is the one included here!

One thought on “Guest Post: Paid Menstrual Leave?

  1. Reblogged this on Positive Birth News and commented:
    Wow! Amazing progress Russia!

    Such a revolutionary change this would be and such change it would demand in the way women are treated and the way women feel and are understood. Can’t see this happening under our govt in Aust for many many many moons!

    So I choose to try to plan my own months around my needs and we teach our sons about these needs from a young age with an attitude of respect and acceptance. Maybe in their time there will be bigger changes.

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