Maybe this is a dumbass question, but, if your daughter has severe cerebral palsy and you’re worried that she would be confused and traumatized by her period, couldn’t you put her on the Pill and just never give her the sugar pill week? I mean, call me silly, but that seems a whole hell of a lot less traumatic than major, invasive, unnecessary surgery.
A. Doesn’t it seem fucked up to assume that your daughter, regardless of her situation, is necessarily going to be confused and traumatized by her period? That seems to me to say more about her parents’ attitudes towards menstruation than the girl’s. I mean, from the news article, it doesn’t sound like she’s started menstruating yet and I understand that, with severe conditions, it can be difficult to ascertain how a person feels about things, but, damn it, don’t we have an obligation to try?
I don’t know. I’m not as well-versed on this stuff as I should be. My whole strategy towards disability rights is to think “What would my Uncle B. have thought of this? What would I have thought of this had someone tried to pull this shit on my Uncle B.?” but that only carries you so far.
But it seems to me that a fundimental human right is to be treated like a human being. And part of being treated as a human being means that the people around you have an obligation to not stand in the way of you aging naturally (and I realize “natural” is a loaded term) or experiencing things that other human beings experience–pain, mess, awe, wonder.
Why would we assume that Katie Thorpe would find menstruating undignified? Does she find peeing undignified? Pooping? Having ear wax? Maybe she’d find it weird. Maybe she’d find it amazing. Maybe she’d just assume it was another thing her body does and not give another thought to it.
B. I don’t like it because I don’t like this idea that a grown woman’s body is inherently in a constant state of disorder, that, because of the processes our bodies go through, we are constantly in a state of there being something wrong with us and that, while most women can handle it, it’s okay to spare a very small few the indignity of that suffering.
First of all, because, in general, menstruating and having hormonal cycles is not suffering. If you do suffer because of your menstrual cycle, you deserve to have that suffering alleviated, not just ignored because it’s a part of being a woman.
And secondly, because, again, human beings ought to have an inherent right to be treated as human beings and allowed to have human experiences. Thorpe is 15. If she starts to menstruate and her family and doctors notice that she is unduly suffering, it’s at that point that they might want to take steps to alleviate her suffering.
But before then, to take some drastic, preemptive measure against the fact that Thorpe is a human being who is growing older and therefore going through the things that women go through when their bodies mature?
I don’t like it.
I think the spector of the problem of eugenics is obvious, but the secondary problem–of the double-edged sword of treating all women’s bodies as disordered (edge one) in such a way that also allows you to downplay real women’s actual suffering (edge two)–is huge as well and should not be ignored.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with menstruating.