A guy walks into a store to buy feminine products…

I grew up around women. My mom was a hard-working single mother of 2. Both my sister and I had relative freedom to come and go, while mom worked extra hours, only to come home and find an infinite mess to deal with. I have very few memories of her sleeping… Somehow she was up before us, and went to bed (I suppose) after we were fast asleep–yet everything was always perfect. Beds made, clean clothes, warm food… my mom was/is a warrior.

My sister is 8 years older than me, which means that she got to experience many things before I could even understand them. She reached her teenage years when I was in pre-school, so for a long time, her entire world seemed foreign and far to me. For a short while though, we were in the same school, and got to ride the same school bus.

The very regrettable tale of a stupid kid

The school bus was small, and a distinct example of a small civilization full of young people. It was loud, lively, violent, funny and annoying at the same time. The worst.

I clearly remember, one day we were being driven home after school. I must have been 8 years old at the time. Out of boredom or curiosity, I decided to go through my sister’s bag. Inside, amongst 90's makeup, candy, notebooks full of scratches and stickers, I found a menstrual pad. In my limited wisdom, I thought it was a good idea to pull it out and yell, in front of everyone, “HEY! WHAT’S THIS?!” while violently waving it around.

My poor sister, ashamed and in disbelief, covered her face and started crying, while everyone on the bus laughed, pointed at and ridiculed her. I don’t think I’ve ever told her how much I regret that moment, and how to this day I can’t think of it without choking up. I was an asshole, and I knew it as the chaos I created unraveled before me. I will never forget that moment. I will never cease to feel ashamed by it.

Fast forward to today

Today, I live with my wife and our lovely daughter. I often joke with my wife that I am destined to be surrounded by women. As the man in my house, I often have to put on slippers and walk the dark and dangerous streets to the nearest convenience store or supermarket to buy feminine products [sarcasm]. And today, at an unlikely time, I had to step out of the office and buy some in broad daylight.

I stood in line at the convenience store. It was packed, but finally it was my turn at the register. The clerk grabbed the pack of menstrual pads, and to my surprise he waved them around while laughing and saying “BRO,WHAT ARE YOU DOING BUYNG THESE?!” A few other people behind me chuckled.

Now, I am not an uptight person, at all, but this brought back memories. I found myself thinking “What year is this?”. How can we be so obtuse about something so normal and part of the daily routine of 50% of the world population at one point or another?

My mind went into a little fantasy world where I got super political. I would have said things like “How dare you?” or at least a dry “I don’t get the joke”. Maybe say a few snobby things like “What you consider should be ridiculed, I consider miraculous. In fact, it is the only reason why you and I can stand here and have a debate. Because the woman who gave life to both of us had a functioning reproductive system… etc.”

Then I snapped back to reality as he asked “Sir, would you like a bag?” I felt rebellious and answered “No.” I exited the store and proudly walked back to the office while holding the feminine pads in my hand. I even bumped into some people on my way back.

I don’t get it

We live in a free world, yet we decide to surround ourselves with these made up barriers. Who should be ashamed in that situation? Me for buying feminine products? My wife / mom / sister / daughter (someday) for going through a normal cycle of life? I find it ridiculous. Imagine the forest being ashamed of going through autumn. It makes no sense.

I share this story, not because I want to create a big something out of nothing. It was probably close to an insignificant moment. But I also think that we need to work harder at educating ourselves, and our children. There is infinite beauty in life and its cycles, and those cycles are responsible for life itself.

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Designer, husband, dad. I am into delightful UX. Sr. Manager, Product Design at Royal Caribbean.

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Alberto Orsini

Alberto Orsini

Designer, husband, dad. I am into delightful UX. Sr. Manager, Product Design at Royal Caribbean.

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