Well, I was going to take a moment today to enumerate all the things I am thankful about—tomorrow is Thanksgiving after all—but then, the internet was so kind, and I thought that maybe an act of gratitude would be to “give back” as it were, to do the thing I like best, which is to complain about the foolishness of other people. In other words, I want you to be thankful for me, as I am thankful for you, and the best way to instill gratitude in others is to give them what they want, rather than to go on and on about how you yourself are so grateful. Actually, I feel like there is some kind of logical flaw in there but I don’t feel particularly inclined to search it out. I’m just looking for an excuse to complain about this—Scotland has passed some kind of law to achieve, and this was the term used on Twitter, “period dignity.” In other words, all those kinds of “products” that make that certain regularly occurring uncomfortable moment more comfortable are going to be available for free because having them is now a universal “right.” Scotland is the first nation in the world, apparently, to deal a death blow to “period poverty.”
Before you get all annoyed with me for being annoyed, let me just say that of course, this is a real concern. It is true that girls all over the world—especially in lots of places that are much poorer than Scotland—don’t go to school and other kinds of places at certain times because of this…me searching for a word that doesn’t embarrass anyone, thought about “issue,” but that’s almost worse…trouble? I dunno, I don’t like to think of it as a trouble either. Watch me back into a corner with my eyes cast up to the heavens in supplication for linguistic help out of this pit that I am literally digging for myself…
Anyway, I would like to point out that “it” was just something that women coped with for generations, until men came along and decided they could become women should their little gnostic hearts direct them to. Perhaps that’s too cynical. I am sure that many of the people campaigning for period dignity mean well and are trying to do nice things. Nevertheless, there are already a lot of unintended consequences resulting from the government deciding what constitutes a right and what doesn’t, and, unhappily, there will be many more.
One unintended consequence of the government getting involved in everyone’s health care, is that then the government takes it as its responsibility to worry about whether or not everyone can afford what they need for their health. It seems a lovely idea, but then the government gets to say more and more things, and actually, what happens, is that the gap between the rich and poor grows to be greater, not lesser, because the government feels happy and comfortable making more and more decisions about what kinds of things people deserve. I know this in a personal way by living in the state I do. I don’t want to go into the details, but I always like to mutter, when dealing with this question, that the government will give you things, so long as you accept in an emotional way their beneficent attitude. As long as you “know” you are poor you can have the things. It’s some sort of strange twist on the Christian ideal of poverty before God—you have to know that you have nothing when you come before God, and then there is the wondrous discovery that God is prepared to give you everything. Only in the Christian way, God comes to you in your poverty and embraces you, and makes you his. Whereas with the governments of a lot of countries, they will give you stuff but you must never think that you are not poor, you must always understand that your “rights” are a great blessing from them. The “hug” occasionally feels sharp and cold and reproving.
Second (for maybe fifth because I feel like I jumbled a lot of stuff in there), one thing that is not “dignified” is making every facet of a woman’s biology into a political question. The game was lost, of course, when abortion became the thing that would roil us all until kingdom come. Women on the left cry out things like “my body my choice” and “get your laws off my body” but the trouble is that they have brought the whole government into the question of not only their bodies, but of the bodies that might be temporarily taking up space inside their bodies. Instead of it being a matter of the government doing the singular and most basic thing it is supposed to do—protecting the lives of its citizens and making sure that people are safe enough to work and trade in a reasonable manner, which, I would argue, includes making sure that even babies have the right to be born—the government has taken to itself all kinds of other tasks. Suddenly, while not being anxious for the life of any baby she might carry, all kinds of politicians are discussing her monthly cycle and what kind of products she may use. It is a strange and ironical twist. The right to “privacy” has somehow got rid of all the privacy.
Also, I find it excessively humourous that women have gone from being cheetahs or pumas or whatever–strong and brave and free as some say–to being helpless and at the mercy of the government for those kinds of things that they require for their own comfort and work. To get ahead in life, they must be given lots of free things, even very intimate things. I say this as someone who has been around some women even in other countries whose “poverty” appalls much of the world, but who have a grip on themselves in a fashion much to be envied by the average “rich” white Westerner who now bleats and cries not only about period dignity, but having to read books written even by a man.
Lastly, I find it funny that “dignity” and “poverty” have really come to be useless words. One of the poverties of this moment is how coarse and clinical everything has become. Rather than each of us reaching out and being anxious for each other—helping in so many different and curious ways—the whole matter is thrown into debate under the bright garish lights of a parliamentary hall. The condescending, lecturing care of somewhere like Scotland, crying out to the rest of the world to stand up and be like them, irritates me a lot. Feels colonialist, actually.
Well, there you are. Get off my lawn, that’s all I’m saying.