A lot of guys have a problem with menstruation. Which is silly, because it’s a naturally occurring function of the female body. Besides, it’s just a little bit of blood. And they’re not scared of a little bit of blood when they’re practically slitting each others’ throats the other twenty-six days of the month to get a digit or two in there.

But what makes a man suddenly lose his appetite when the soup du jour changes from clam chowder to tomato bisque? Well, what it can all be whittled down to is that most men are scared of periods.

And they’re scared of them because they don’t understand them. If the less discharge-inclined sex were to simply gain a little bit of knowledge on the subject of their girlfriends’ monthlies, maybe they wouldn’t be so grossed out by them.

The female period has been around for hundreds of years. No one really knows exactly when ladies started doing it, or who was the first to do it, but, once word started flowing, it caught on like a bushfire and before long just about every woman in the world was dancing to ragtime.

This era in history, known as the Red Scare, was originally dismissed by many men as a fleeting trend, a flash in the pad which they did not understand. And this lack of understanding was the first trickle of what would soon become a heavy flow of unease.

But what exactly is menstruation? Well, essentially it’s the means with which a woman dispels the clutch of eggs deep within her that is growing into a pod of tiny humans.

Without menstruation, litters of babies would be born by the thousands and the earth would have been overrun by them many years ago. Think of it as nature’s way of keeping the human species’ population in check. Like plastic six-pack holders for fish and shorebirds. Or like a self cleaning oven.

Girls generally begin to menstruate around age thirteen, give or take a couple years, when their first period ushers them into Womanhood while at a slumber party or camping. It is a rite of passage marked by a tremendous amount of celebratory shame and paper towel, the magnitude of which can hardly be fathomed by a common male.

The closest parallel in a boy’s development is the first erection he experiences upon accidentally walking in on his cousin changing. The erection being the physiological twin to the period, as it signifies the gathering of millions of tiny sperms to form a baby.

After a girl first hoists the Japanese flag, she must take the necessary steps to deal with its outpouring of consequences every month. The most common methods of menstrual mantling include the spruce sluice, knicker troughs, the thong sarong and the cordial cork. Most of these products are designed to stop the flow, or divert it into special “reservoir boots” which hold it in their soles to make walking more comfortable, and are easily emptied into ladies’ room receptacles or released onto the ground behind to hinder the progress of unwanted pursuers.

The physical, emotional, and cultural significance of forging the Rio el Vermelho cannot be underestimated and it’s important for men to realize that if they want to keep being invited back to the playground, they have to be okay with the slide getting painted on a regular basis.

So it’s up to us men to ask ourselves what we’re really so afraid of. If we make the effort to reflect upon and absorb this pool of knowledge, we might find that we’re not only okay with our ladies’ monthly subscription to Redbook, but that we embrace it and even want to leaf through it sometimes when we’re looking for something a little more interesting to read than the old, worn Choose Your Own Adventure next to the toilet.

Periods are an important part of the life of our girlfriends, wives and other special ladies. In fact, as I write this I just received a text from a lady friend of mine on the subject of how much she’s missed hers for five days in a row now.

Photo by Johnny Scott