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News You Can Use – Period Poverty
By David Bachelor, PhD
There are a lot of periods in the headlines recently, and not just at the end of sentences. The trend started at Wimbledon and continued through the Women’s World Cup. Then, this week it crossed over from sports into politics.
The August 8th New York Times headline “From the Women’s World Cup to Wimbledon, a Victory Everyone Can Share” was one of the many media commentaries on recent wardrobe modifications among female athletes in response to menses. Commenting on the dark shorts now worn by women players at Wimbledon, the article noted, “The All England Club finally relaxed its all-white rules in recognition of female menstrual reality.” The article asks women still adhering to the former rules, “Why are athletes wearing white shorts and wondering if spectators can tell they are menstruating instead of focusing on doing their job?”
On August 14th, a Bloomberg headline proclaimed, “Even Rich Countries Are Seeing Period Poverty in Cost of Living Crisis.” The article begins by listing items, like socks, towels and tissues, used in place of hygiene articles and notes, “The World Bank estimates that 500 million women worldwide don’t have access to menstrual products,” Returning to the theme in the headline, the article cites a health journal that states, “In 2022 two-thirds of the 16.9 million low-income women in the US hadn’t been able to afford menstrual products in the previous year, and half needed to choose between period items and food.”
The Telegraph on August 20th had the headline, “Menstruation Isn’t Just a Women’s Issue, Say Lib Dems.” The spokesperson for this political party believes that in the United Kingdom men can also menstruate. At their annual meeting, the Liberal Democrats will debate a motion that says, “Period products are a human right, not a luxury; nobody should experience period poverty.” The proposed solution is to mandate that local governments and schools provide free menstrual products on their premises and teach “comprehensive education on periods… to ensure an appreciation for the lived experience of menstruation.”
The book of the Bible that has the most to say about the societal effects of a woman’s period is Leviticus. The fifteenth chapter makes it clear that the Lib Dems are correct, “Menstruation Isn’t Just a Women’s Issue,” but for very different reasons. God’s people were told, “”‘When a woman has her monthly period, her impurity will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. Anything she sits on or lies on during her period will be unclean. Anyone who touches anything she sits on or lies on will also be unclean for the rest of that day; they must wash their clothes and take a bath” (Lev. 15:19-22). Under the Old Testament, a woman’s period had the domino-effect on everyone around her.
Jesus encountered a woman with an extreme case of period poverty. This woman was under the old covenant when she met Jesus. The Bible says, “A woman, who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had spent all her money on doctors, but none of them were able to stop her irregular period, came up to Jesus and touched his clothes. Instantly, her flow of blood stopped” (Luk 8:43-44). According to Leviticus 15, this woman’s touch had made Jesus unclean. Instead of anger, Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Luk 8:48). Jesus not only stopped her flow of blood, but the flow of money out of her bank account. Apparently, Jesus was also against period poverty.