The Test of Blood: How Men Would Menstruate


The Test of Blood: How Men Would Menstruate

Illustration: Shivali Devalkar

“It is better to bleed out than to fade away.”

~Kurt Cobain

It’s a Monday evening and a few real men are preparing for their monthly pre-menstrual ritual. One is doing push-ups; another is downing an entire bottle of protein shake. As the men get their pump on, the crowd starts to gather. They begin to chant, “period, period, period”, culminating in a giant cheer and a Mexican wave. The menstruating men then go to a bar and begin drinking to celebrate the onset of their manly monthly period.

Pre-menstrual rituals became part of culture in the early 1800s, when monthly cycles of men in the form of the penal bleed, were taken as a sign of sure victory over foreign invaders and other such “pansies”. Today, the menstruating men gather at 7 pm and begin to raise toasts to planetary cycles, the God of war, and Benito Mussolini, a man famous for having let out the most menstrual discharge in a single day, circa 1923.

As the men drink, there is madness and hysteria in the air. It is “that time of the month” when anything can happen. They talk about sticking it to their employers and having sex with women. Their hormones have been imbalanced and everyone is in danger. But in a good, adventurous sort of way, of course.

During this pre-menstruation ritual, conversation revolves mainly around the history of great men and their perfectly synchronised cycles. In this world, arguments are triggered almost instantly because everyone is going through some “dark stuff”. This can lead to some pretty extreme hand-to-hand combat. Let’s say if a Shane Warne fan and a Harbhajan Singh supporter were to meet by chance, shit would go down faster than a burning Space X rocket. This would probably end with someone saying, “I’ll bleed on you, you little bitch,” because this is a normal insult now. Everyone finds it funny because there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s just a man bleeding on another man, casually.

When fights between PMSing men escalate, they sometimes gather in a true “Test of Blood”. This is comparing the size of blood stains over the last year to see who was the manliest man. In this world, women aren’t allowed to talk shit about menstruation because they’re really weak and don’t really understand what menstruation feels like. The last woman who the men suspected was on her period was burned at the stake in the 1600s, setting an example for any other woman who thinks she’s good enough to bleed like a warrior man.

If he succeeds in his initial plan, he will celebrate by pulling out a cigarette and the good ol’ Sanju Baba Extra-Strength tampon.

Over the years, menstruation has been rebranded and claimed as the Man’s Syndrome, with ads ranging from, “Man riding horse, with woman behind him” to “Man slaying enemies with the help of super XXTRA big Wrestler tampons”. In one particularly gripping ad, Jackie Shroff beats up a mini army of men, does a few backflips, and then goes on to slowly deliver a line about how his heavy blood flow made this possible. Then he gets a cramp, but he ignores it, because what if people think he’s weak. This is the same reason Arnold Schwarzenegger is the official brand ambassador of “The Period” worldwide. At gyms, the menstrual cycle is given a catchy title like “30-day menstruation challenge” to encourage more men to be proud about their “privilege”. Menstruation is serious business and it demands respect.

Any woman who dares to laugh at the “Great Blood Sacrifice”, is instantly schooled on the aches and pains that men have to go through to make the women happy. Meanwhile, any man who is deemed to be not bleeding enough is labelled “weak”, and men with heavy cycles go on to be presidents of their countries.

When a man is menstruating, he will try very hard to convince a woman to have sex with him because there is no stigma attached to bleeding anymore. If this fails, he will explain to her very slowly and deliberately the good effects of sex on menstruating men for the next hour or so. He will then explain mathematics, lunar cycles, and other things “women with little brains” have a hard time grasping. If he succeeds in his initial plan, he will celebrate by pulling out a cigarette and the good ol’ Sanju Baba Extra-Strength tampon.

It is for these reasons and many more that back at the bar, the men have begun to chant their menstruation anthem:

Oh, how I’d love menstruation,

Even though it hurts more than castration.

But it makes me a real man,

Oh, Priapus, Lord of Male Fertility, I’m a fan.

As the night progresses and drinks flow, the real men come out and the song choices change a bit. Renditions of “Khoon Nikla Toh Darna Kya” now fill the air as the men continue to drown away the pain in alcohol. It’s that time of the month and there will be blood.

This is a creative expansion of the ideas put forth in Gloria Steinem’s essay titled “If Men Could Menstruate” first published in Ms Magazine in 1978. Read the original here.

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