Kiran Gandhi stood up for a legitimate cause that will definitely bring attention to world issues, however, did she disgust more people than she did enlighten?
On August 7, reports swept the digital hemisphere about a girl who ran 26.2 miles in the London Marathon while on her period. Of course a girl with a menstrual cycle is not really news, but what made this girl -later identified as Kiran Gandhi -special was that she ran while on her period and without a tampon or pad. In other words, she free bled for 4 hours, 49 minutes, and 11 seconds, and she has the bloody pictures to prove it.
Contrary to what some may believe, Kiran Gandhi, a Harvard Business School graduate and a drummer for indie rapper, M.I.A. didn’t happen to misjudge the dates of her period or even feel embarrassed when she crossed the finish line with blood covering the inside of her jogging pants. Her act was merely deliberate in an attempt to stand against a social construct. In her interview with PEOPLE, Gandhi said that she ran without a tampon or pad to highlight “period-shaming” and the language surrounding women’s menstrual cycles. She went on to explain how her act was a stand for women everywhere:
“I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist.”
She may have a point. Many poverty-stricken countries lack the resources to supply tampons and sanitary applicants for women. Women in Africa have suffered many health risks as a result of the lack of supply. Even homeless women in the U.S. and around the world struggle with taking care of their menstrual cycles.
In terms of culture, it can be said that women and men commonly step around or avoid the subject altogether. Like conversations about STDs and at one point, sex, periods are something you don’t bring up around male friends or at the dinner table. Even so, does a social stigma about the subject equate to publicly, free bleeding?
It’s hard to deny the double standards and feminine-shaming, especially as more and more women take a stand against these acts. That however, is not the sole focus. Kiran Gandhi stood up for a legitimate cause that will definitely bring attention to world issues, however, did she disgust more people than she did enlighten?
If your leg is cut and starts to bleed, you wipe it and put a band aid on it. If your nose starts to bleed while you are at a bar or in school, you quickly grab tissues and hold your head up to stop it. Now if you were to let them continue to bleed freely, people would most likely inform you of the mess and help you correct the situation, no matter your gender. This is most likely the same for women and menstrual cycles. Just the same, you’ll find girls asking their girlfriends to check their clothing from behind to make sure nothing seeped through. None of these acts signify shaming though.
The place from which you bleed might play a big role. If we want to be graphically and medically correct, periods occur each month when your uterine lining sheds and releases in the form of blood through your vagina. The description has a way of making you cringe, but it’s just part of the female system.
While female biology may not be in question, the health risks may be. Tampons and pads were not only presented as a way to hide periods, but to also prevent potential health risk that occur when the issue is untreated. Now, it’s hard to say that a lot of damage was done to Kiran Gandhi in just a few hours, but free bleeding for years might have an impact.
Kiran Gandhi, no doubt a feminist, brought light to an issue that not all women may agree with, whether that be because of the health risks, or any other reasons. But being a feminist doesn’t mean that you stand with every issue another woman stands for. You can disagree with another, yet stand for the ideals of equality for all genders.