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Opinion: Like Padman, are other men sharing the pain of menstruation?

Akshay Kumar and Arunachalam Murugananthan raising awareness and breaking the taboo revolving around menstruation. Photograph:( Others )

Delhi, India Feb 20, 2018, 11.53 AM (IST) Written By: Vanshika Garg

Our society has men like Akshay Kumar and Arunachalam Muruganantham, who understood the pain a female goes through during the course of menstruation cycle. Rather than blindly following the horde of hypocrisy, some men chose to show their concern to any and every female around them.

A small town man from Tamil Nadu,Arunanchalam Muruganantham runs a factory, producing low-cost sanitary napkins. This initiative was not a money-making-idea. It was rather a step to get involved in the sphere shared by females; it had helped him to understand the pain of his wife, sister, and mother goes through while bleeding each month. Of course, the ride was no less than a roller coaster. Belonging to a conservative family, talking about menstruation with his own wife seemed like a sin. Running away from the judgemental eyes finally landed him in a medical college where he collected the used sanitary napkins. His moral never dropped even for a second because he had realised that menstruation was shrouded with the blind superstitious belief which is harmful to the entire female section. He had understood why men are unaware of the female biological phenomenon. He had understood that women of the society had been living a tough life all alone and needed proper hygienic sanitation during menstruation.

Taking inspiration from Arunachalam Muruganantham, writer/producer Twinkle Khanna along with husband Akshay Kumar, took the initiative further. Although the small town guy had gained his fame long before, Akshay Kumar made him India's 'Padman'. This effort was made to inculcate in the society that menstruation is no evil spirit, and is as natural as peeing, which needs to be sanitised properly. 

Giving Akshay Kumar the lead role in the film Padman was the right decision. Akshay, after all, starred in another taboo-breaking film – Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, and the actor is considered as an epitome of change in society. The film started off with a decent earning of 10 Cr, 13 Cr, and 16 Cr on the first three days of release. However, the film has seen with a considerable slowdown in the second week.

But the point is not how big hit the movie was at the box office. Rather, the impact of the movie in our personal lives needs to be analysed. Since I had expected a lot more viewership to this ‘breaking-the-stereotype-movie’, which actually didn't turn out likewise, I ended up conducting a survey asking what people know/think about menstruation. 

From the responses of people, I realised that some have been hesitant in watching this film with family. A father and daughter might have felt embarrassed, or the son and the mother, or possibly a sister and a brother. To my shock, few men had answered ‘I don’t know what is menstruation’, ‘women bleed’, ‘Its women’s personal problem, why should I know’, ‘women are Apavitra (profane) while bleeding’, ‘my wife and daughter don’t tell me their problem regarding menstruation because of family customs’. 

This is disheartening because blood excreted during menstruation is actually what we all are made of. Had the blood been flowed in sewage even after conceiving the fetus, no human would have taken birth. Thus, if the women are profane during the course of menstruation, I believe we all are profane too. 

The entire society needs to understand that although it is the woman who bleeds, the course of menstruation is to be dealt by the entire society. Not that men should start to bleed, but just as in pregnancy the husband has a very important responsibility of taking care of her wife. Similarly, while the wife, sister, daughter or mother is bleeding, men should play an empathetic role. The role of not giving her a judgemental nasty look, the role of sympathising her, the role of comforting and proving her, the role of becoming a helping hand instead of shunning her away simply by saying 'it happens every month, get used to it'. 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)