Writer Frank Bures has delivered via Slate a take so hot you could use it as a heating pad for your cramps.
Is PMS Real?
Or is it just a figment of our menstruation-fearing culture?
It’s not just a clickbaity title, either. The content is every bit the celebration of mansplain you’d imagine. These are the opening lines:
One day, while I was researching my recent book about cultural syndromes across the world, I was talking to my wife when she said, “Well, I got my period. I guess that explains my mood.”
I shrugged and asked: “Or does it?”
This was followed by an icy silence: The only thing worse than diagnosing PMS is suggesting it might be a cultural syndrome.
“Never mind,” I said. “We’ll go with, ‘It does.’ “
YEAH, FRANK, WE’LL GO WITH THAT.
Never underestimate the condescension of the woke white man.
I was diagnosed with PMDD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, when I was 15. I would lash out in rages and deep depressions complete with delusions every single month. This was real, this was not a “cultural syndrome” or societal causation, this was not debatable.
And yet, here we are.
It’s clearly real. I know because it goddamn happened to me. But did you know THAT MANY ACTUAL DOCTORS—INCLUDING WOMEN—don’t believe in it? They believe that this is clearly a made-up disorder created to sell SSRIs by big pharma. Nevermind the people suffering very real symptoms. Because they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about. You might say they’re being hysterical.
Do you know how it feels to have a disorder tied to menstruation? To feel like I’m part of why people think menstruation equals weakness, and to that end, to menstruate means you are weak? For too many people, so many real and tangible things in life are somehow up for debate or discussion by those unaffected.
I am sorry PMS and PMDD and hormonal disorders related to menstruation exist. But pretending they are a societal conspiracy is so fucked up. The person who wrote that Slate piece is a man, because fucking of course, but lots of women feel this way too. And it sucks. Fuck it all.
So I reached out to my fellow Pajiban menstruators, who have asked to remain nameless, because you don’t need to know specifically which of us has fired out a tampon while pooping (it’s possible that one was me). Feel free to literally fill this comment thread with your symptoms, stories, and the blood of your wombs and enemies.
Here are some of the societal and cultural constructs experienced by your faithful overlords and not biological responses.
“That dull constant pressure that is not only pushing your ovaries to gush blood, but also your bowels to give you the pushiest shits.”
“Sure, I’m ‘figment of my imagination’ing through super heavy tampons right now, FRANK. Not great, Bob.”
“Leading up to my period, I used to get cramps so painfully they were literally blinding. Like, I became sensitive to light. I spent untold hours in my high school’s nurse’s office with all the lights off, claiming a migraine so I could dodge the mockery of boys who think periods are gross and deserving of derision. Then I got on the pill. Now my cramps are annoying, but no longer drive me into a dark cave of shame and seclusion.”
“I’ve actually been incredibly lucky when it comes to PMS and hormonal mood swings with my period. I don’t remember ever having period-related rage or tears or anything, but there is a good chance that’s because it just blended in with the other rage/tears craziness I had.
All that said, YOUR BODY IS PHYSICALLY PREPARING ITSELF FOR THIS THING. THE HORMONAL CHANGE, CRAMPS, BLOATING, STRESS, AND PHYSICAL REACTIONS AREN’T MADE UP EVEN IF THEY DON’T AFFECT EVERYONE THE SAME WAY.
And, Frank, given that for hundreds of years female-focused medicine fell under the ‘Not-men’ umbrella, I’m a little distrustful of a field which is only now treating my biology as more than one deviation from the ‘norm.’”
“Smells. I become a goddamn bloodhound leading up to my cycle. And I hate everyone who has even been near an onion and any monster with fish or coffee or anything on their breath.”
“God, I’m literally the girl from Mean Girls who has a heavy flow and a wide set vuh-hine. Mine last the full seven days and the crippling cramps come with bloating, short temper, and just a general feeling of sociopathy. Like 4 months ago, I was visiting my best girlfriends and I went through so many tampons, pads, Diva cups, YOU NAME IT, in the span of 24 hours I thought I was going to die. The elevator of blood scene from The Shining? Yeah, jeans at a ramen noodle restaurant.”
“Y’all, I have an app on my phone to track my periods so I can specifically be alerted when it’s time to PMS, so I can thus understand why my emotions are out of whack.”
“I don’t have an app. I do have it on my Google Calendar. Which my friends laugh at. But look, then I know when I need to be gentler on myself and when alcohol will more especially fuck me up.”
“My biggest problem with this article is that it attempts the right thing. Periods aren’t inherently bad, and we shouldn’t have the shame and secrecy around them that we do. We also shouldn’t see periods as something to dread. But that doesn’t mean pretending that it’s a fucking party in my pants is the answer either. Women (like god-bless-her-heart up there) have weeks-long periods. With heavy cramping, heavy blood flow, and serious related health issues. Minimizing that isn’t any mentally healthier than vilifying periods, and could be much more dangerous. And we do it. All. The. Time. When my sister was pregnant with her second kid, she had such terrible morning sickness she actually lost weight. She was dehydrated, couldn’t keep anything down, was throwing up 12 or so times a day. The fucking doctor told her it was fine. That’s what happens when you’re pregnant. Well fuck you, son. Concussions are what happen when you play football and we still treat those, you asshole.”
“Hard agree. Yes, there’s a cultural bias against periods as dirty or shameful, but that doesn’t mean the symptoms are imaginary. In fact, that’s an incredibly REGRESSIVE view of periods, where things like PMS, cramps, and heavy periods were basically treated as hysterical confabulations for most of the 20th century. There are any number of “perfectly natural” conditions of the human body that are still very painful or inconvenient to deal with, and require medical attention regularly.”
“I used to know my Bloodsport was coming because I had to eat all the food and threaten bodily harm to anyone who touched me. So there were accidents until I realized my boobs were sore too, making it different from me everyday.”
“I don’t get the mood effects of PMS, but I definitely get headaches, a little weight gain, and pimples, which, GUESS WHAT, are also PMS symptoms. It’s not all ‘oh, she’s being a bitch, she must be on her period.’ But if so many dudes ARE going to always try to explain away our words and thoughts with biology they don’t understand, THEY DON’T ALSO GET TO SIMULTANEOUSLY SAY THAT BIOLOGY IS MADE UP.”
TL;DR;TMI? FUCK THIS NOISE.
Note: The non-period-having contingent of Pajiba has asked me to include that though they “can’t add anecdotal experience (and staying well away from the Kevin Jamesesque ‘if you’ve ever lived with a woman you believe in it, because hackneyed stereotype about mood swings’), but that we add our voices to the chorus of ‘fuck right the fuck off, Slate.’”