Reverence & The Red Wave
ESSAY BY KATE WEINER
PHOTO BY AERAN SQUIRES
I recently read “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Bleeding…But I Don’t Have To” by the luminous Brooke Lorimer. Brooke is a cherished friend and passionate feminist whose essay on challenging patriarchal values during her period struck a chord.
As I scrolled through her reflection in the throes of a night-blooming bouquet of PMS blues, I realized that for nearly 13 years, my menstrual cycle has been guiding me toward being a better environmental activist. PMS has taught me to value presence rather than productivity, to practice compassion, to take things slow. More than anything, when I’m riding that red wave, I’m reminded of how very human I am. Being attuned to my body affirms for me my interconnection with the natural cycles. I’m pulled by the moon, same as the tide, and this nurtures my instinctual understanding that environmentalism is embodied.
Although I was SUPER lucky to grow up in a household where we shared in open conversations about periods, I sometimes struggle with how real to be with others. I’m afraid of affirming stereotypes that a menstruating body is “less than” even though I want to be open about my ravenous hunger and tender heart because that’s my truth. I don’t want some dudes telling me when and what and how to share and I’m anxious about giving the patriarchy ammunition in their war against womxn by reflecting the popular trope of a blubbering babe tearing into pizza on the couch. And like all bodies who bleed, my experience of PMS is forever evolving. Some cycles I’m super sad and slow, some cycles I’m fiercely productive, some cycles I’m in real pain, and some cycles I float through.
Reading Brooke’s article, I was reminded that part of smashing the patriarchy is refusing to make space for capitalist values to take root in my heart, my body, my community, and my ecosystem. And so if someone thinks I’m not “reliable” because I’m surfing the crimson tide (thank you, Clueless, for that gem!), that’s not on me. I know my truth. I know that there is power in revering the seasons of my body same as I do the seasons of nature. I know that we are stronger when we are free from shame. And I know that we can’t take care of the Earth with the presence she so desperately needs from us if we aren’t willing to be present to the ecosystems that make up our bodies.
One last thing: there is no “wrong” way to be in your body. As Brooke so beautifully writes: “Experiencing or not experiencing a period does not make you more or less of a woman. […] Transgender women are no less women if they don’t menstruate. Some trans men man menstruate, making them no less of a man. Some gender queer bodies may menstruate, and this does not make them women.” It’s important to note as well that not everyone experiences cyclical periods. This does not make you any “less.” And if you are worried about your cycle, consult with your healthcare provider about what a healthy period looks like for you.
Like the world we live in, periods can be mysterious, beautiful, painful, grounding, bizarre, intense. In learning how to be in conversation with our cycle—however that shows up for us—we can learn as well how to be in deeper conversation with our good and generous Earth. Here’s to riding the red wave with reverence!
The badass Janelle Monáe has created a sublime anthem for celebrating sexuality with “PYNK.” The music video is just brilliant and the lyrics are a potent invitation to honor “pink” as an identity that transcend boundaries.
For bodies who bleed, cloth pads and reusable cups are a low-waste, accessible, and affordable alternative to disposable cotton pads and tampons. Periods can feel all kinds of trashy and it’s sweet to do what we can to make it less so.
Years ago, a partner threw me a “period party” with pink and red everything. To this day, it reliably warms my heart to cozy up with a nourishing dose of beet borscht in a cheery pink bowl because why not? Beauty is medicine, too.
Marissa Correia is a cherished resource for better understanding our cyclical bodies. Her work is “rooted in trust and reverence for the regenerative, life-giving inherent force within” as well as a commitment to embodied wisdom.