“Are you sick?” I remember being asked when I was a teenager. People were questioning whether or not I was on my period. Even though I wasn’t supposed to exercise or swim —or apparently make mayonnaise; I never actually perceived those myths as affecting my daily life. However, I remember learning that society had mandated that getting my period should remain a secret. The same ritual that was supposed to symbolize that I had “become a woman,” came with an unbearable pain that was normalized. Decades later, I still come across gynaecologists that roll their eyes at me when I tell them that my pain is excruciating; “that’s natural, it’s felt by almost everyone”. —Laia Abril
People who menstruate will spend an average of 1800 days of their lives on their period. Perceived as unclean and as a taboo, the misconceptions across cultures keep people isolated; confused about what happens to them; silenced or even afraid to attend school. In some parts of the world, those menstruating are forbidden from cooking or eating certain foods; and are barred from touching water, praying, moving freely, having sex or sleeping in their own beds. While the secrecy around menstruation affects the social, economic and cultural position, there are also direct physical consequences. Extreme pain, debilitating symptoms with non-identifiable causes, and understudied gynaecological diseases. Might the very lack of understanding be perpetuating the suffering experienced by women?
On Menstruation Myths, explores these cycles of thought creating a non-fixed and open-ended narrative that forms part of Laia Abril’s larger body of work, A History of Misogyny. With this series, Abril questions what it means to be a woman within a society that ignores the menstrual calendar. The chapter explores myths and its cultural origins, alongside contemporary data and its consequences. Displaying both the research and the visual metaphors, the installation weaves a greater comprehension around the politics of pain and the repercussions of miseducation and silence.