Embracing My Shark Week

  • by Cinestie Olson

Written by Cinestie Olson

Have you ever been asked if it was your “time of the month,” or if you were participating in “shark week?” Or what about “riding the crimson wave?” If you answered yes to any of these, then you have been a part of a conversation that has used period euphemisms! Period euphemisms are indirect words or phrases for ‘period’ or ‘menstruation.’ Continue reading to learn about where period euphemisms came from, and the pros and cons of using them!

Period Euphemism Examples:

  • Shark Week
  • On the Rag
  • Time of the Month
  • Crimson Wave
  • Aunt Flo
  • The Curse
  • Code Red

Why Do We Use Them?

Period euphemisms can date back to centuries ago. They have been used in old religious texts, private journals of menstruators of the 17th century, and now in today’s media. Some people are still uncomfortable with the fact people menstruate, and therefore when we talk about it, ‘code’ words are used to make people feel more comfortable! Period euphemisms are mostly due to:

  1. Our society severely lacks the understanding of menstruation and period health.
  2. Menstrual health has been looked down upon due to the patriarchal standard of men being “superior” to women. These reasons contribute to hiding menstruation by using euphemisms.

The Con of Period Euphemisms

Middle school me is all too familiar with period euphemisms being used in a negative way by non-menstruators. Euphemisms such as, ‘The Curse,’ or ‘Illness’ can indicate negative feelings and stigmas surrounding menstruation. When these euphemisms are used in a matter of shame, disgust, or discretion, they support those negative stigmas around menstruation, and how we shouldn’t talk about it.

The Pros of Period Euphemisms

Now it seems like ~maybe~ using period euphemisms won’t help with normalizing menstruation. Though it can be the case, it is better to use euphemisms and other slang rather than not talking about menstruation at all. Talking about menstruation and periods is different for everybody! Some menstruators may not be as comfortable talking about their period compared to others. It’s important to use neutral or positive euphemisms, such as ‘period’ or even ‘time of the month,’ as this can simply describe the cyclical process of menstruation. 

Whether you use these period euphemisms or blatantly talk about menstruation, the point is we are talking about periods - which is a step in the right direction to normalize menstruation!


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