Whose Shame is it Anyway?

This post isn’t an erotic one. It’s my first contribution to a new writing meme run by the lovely sub_Bee. It’s a link up called ‘Menstruation Matters’ and you’ll find all kinds of posts there by all kinds of people, all sharing their experiences with a goal of normalising and destigmatising menstruation. Check out the link at the bottom of this post when you’re done reading if you want to know more.  

Period sex. Some people love it so much they actively seek it out. Others hate it so much they actively avoid it. And some folks don’t care one way or another, cos a fuck is a fuck is a fuck and a bit of blood isn’t gonna put a dampener on things.

When I was younger, I would always insist that period sex either happened in the shower or it didn’t happen at all. So off to the shower we would go, and the hot water would wash away the mess even as we made it.

Now that we’ve been together since what feels like the dawn of civilisation, the Fella and I don’t even notice whether I’m bleeding or not. If we want sex, we have sex, be it with his dick, his fingers, or a sex toy. I pay my period no mind for all those things, but one thing I struggled with right up into my mid-thirties was receiving oral while I bleed.

I remember that the first time the Fella ever saw my blood up close and personal, he was rapt. Up until then, he’d only ever seen it trickling down my legs in watery streams of pink because that’s all I’d ever let him see. I kept control of the when and the where and I effectively hid my period from him as best as I could.

In fact, I hid it so well, his first face to vulva encounter with my red stuff didn’t happen until after we had our kid; four years after we met. It was after a bout of invasive birth control was removed and my periods started coming and going as they pleased. It was a surprise bleed two weeks before I expected it. I only knew it was happening because, after kissing his way down my belly and parting my thighs so he could settle in between my knees, he said, “Uh, did you know your period was back already?”

If I hadn’t been so ready for what he’d been about to do, I’d have booted him off the bed and went straight into shower mode. But I was desperately aroused and wallowing in that groggy, hazy place I go to when I know he’s about to go down on me. So I just looked at him, a bit confused, a bit embarrassed, and shrugged.

I expected him to sheepishly extract himself from his precarious position and mumble an invitation to go fuck in the shower, but he decided to investigate instead. He swiped a little smudge of blood from my perineum. Rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger, staring at it as though he’d just discovered an alien substance. I could tell he was tempted to lift it to his face, the giveaway was there in his blush and in the slight upward jerk of his arm.

I watched him, fascinated by his fascination, wondering if he’d be brave enough to smell it, or even taste it. He didn’t do either of those things. A little huff of impatience flared his nostrils and, wrinkling his nose and squeezing his eyes closed, he pushed his face up against my vulva and went about the business of eating me out.

Jesus fucking Christ, I felt as though I’d just been Tasered. Every inch of my body stiffened, and I scrunched my own eyes closed so that I didn’t have to be a part of a world where someone was licking my bloody cunt. The reality of it was that he’d stumbled across the lightest flow at the very start of my period, but I felt like I must be drowning him in a deluge of clotty red snot.

Of all the things I could have concentrated on in that moment – the finger wiggling deliciously around inside me, the lips tugging on my vulva and the tongue lavishing my clit with strong, firm laps – my arsehole mind opted to settle on what his face would look like when he finally came up for air. I pictured a man flayed. Big grey eyes bulging out of a face devoid of its skin, muscles and veins wet, raw, and horrific.

Needless to say, there was no way was he gonna bring me to orgasm. All the things he was doing were familiar, this was how he always got me off when he gave me head. But I was too fixated on the idea of him looking like something from a slasher flick to let myself feel it.

When he did lift his head, I could only look at him with one eye, and I did it through my fingers. He was looking back at me with concern, alerted to my distress by the way rigor mortis had apparently set in. And he didn’t look like he’d been auditioning for a part in Face/Off. There was a bit of blood around his mouth, a dark splodge on his nose, and absolutely no clots between his teeth.

All he said was, “I’m happy to carry on if you are.”

I almost said no. The word was on the tip of my tongue and I was already starting to draw my knees toward my body in order to deny him further access, but then he said something that made me hesitate.

“Is it me you’re uncomfortable for or is it you?” he asked. “Cos if it’s me you needn’t worry. I’ve seen your belly sliced open and your bladder plonked between your tits (ah, childbirth), a bit of period blood isn’t gonna freak me out.”

I realised in that moment that my periods had never been an issue for him. When I thought back over our time together, he’d never once questioned if I was menstruating before initiating sex. He’d never moved his hands away when he realised that I was, and he’d never been the one to bring up the shower.

That was all me. The embarrassment, the avoidance, the concealment…it was all part of this thing I’ve long had which is possibly best described as being ashamed of having a body. It was up there with trying desperately not to give off any hint of odour ever. Trying not to take a crap when someone else was in the house (I still can’t do it in someone else’s bathroom), or trying not to fart in front of people.

I sanitised my existence because I’d been taught that girls and the things their bodies did were offensive. Not by my parents. God, my mother has always been one of those women who likes to talk – in explicit detail – about all her pongs and excretions. No, it was school. Gym teachers would announce my period to the class if I wanted out of swimming. Or other girls would announce it to deflect attention from their own menses. Then boys would laugh at me all day, saying they could see my nappy, and that I must have a fanny that smelled like raw beef. That I was dirty because I was bleeding.

We’d been separated for the sex ed classes that discussed menstruation because it was a female thing; boys didn’t need to understand. So they didn’t understand, they just behaved like puberty turned girls into leaky creatures that were unclean and therefore fair game. And I learned to hide it because they exacerbated the shame sexual abuse had already taught me to feel about my body.

I didn’t give the Fella leave to carry on giving me oral that day. Not because I was bleeding, though, but because I’d turned myself right off with all the introspection. But later that night, I took a deep breath and gave him a gentle nudge down the bed. The tension was still there, and the discomfort, but I damned well made myself relax and I made myself enjoy it because that’s what my body is for. It isn’t for others to comment on and make me feel ashamed, it’s for me to live in, love in, and take pleasure in.

Now, I can let him fuck me right there on the bed when I bleed. He fingers me, uses toys with me, and writes dirty words on my tits in my own blood. I don’t relish the clean up afterwards, especially if the period has been a heavy one, but I’m no longer ashamed of my mess. Because, for this particular situation, that shame was never mine. It was forced on me by others and I’m so glad I was able to find the courage to free myself from it. Now all I need to do is learn stop apologising when I fart and I’m golden.

Menstruation Matters

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