Periods are a perfectly natural element of the human experience, not a blood-soaked nightmare from whence we can never wake. But you wouldn't know that to talk to many dudes out there! And maybe it's time that we, as a society, maybe fixed that.
A writer at Popular Science takes up the cause. He points to a 2011 study, in which several young men signed up for a college human sexuality course—prime know-nothing-about-periods territory—were surveyed about how they'd learned about that time of the month. Most got a talk at home; a few had to pick it up in places like tampon commercials. (I shudder to imagine what they're imagining.) But most of them got precisely diddly squat from sex-ed.
Now, it's hard enough in this country to teach sex ed at all, much less detour into the nuances (physical and emotional) of periods. But that patchy knowledge means there's a fair number young men careening around the world with a straight-up horror of women's bodies:
"Boys' early learning about menstruation is haphazard," the researchers write in their study. "The mysterious nature of what happens to girls contributes to a gap in boys' knowledge about female bodies and to some negative views about girls." In their stories, some of the young men studied described their continuing horror and disgust at the concept of menstruation, how they saw their menstruating girlfriend as crazy, demanding, or overly emotional.
Admittedly, this study is based on a tiny sampling of young men, but it reinforces what we've all experienced. There are young men out there who're educated on the topic, but look no further than the example of the dude who Kickstarted a line of absurd, cartoonish period panties depicting the scene downstairs as, basically, Carrie at the prom. If there's even a chance that an afternoon of high school lectures about the ins and outs of menstruation will calm these dudes down, let's please try it.