It was nine in the morning, a Monday, after a long weekend and it felt as if I didn’t just have three days off. Even worse… I had cramps. If you’re a woman, you’ll most likely know the kind of cramp that not only sends sharp lingering pain into your lower abdomen, but resonates all the way around, choking your sides and lower back, anaconda style, making you squirm, wiggle and stretch in your seat to never successfully find a comfortable position. That’s what I have felt for on average 5 days, every month, every year for the past 32 years.
Since the tender age of 13. I’m what you’d call a late bloomer compared to some other poor souls that had to endure this as early as 9 years old. I can’t imagine having to decide between playing with Barbie’s or laying up in bed hoping the Midol will kick in while dealing with the nuances of a nasty bulky maxi pad. I don’t care if they have “wings”. They’re still nasty, messy and uncomfortable.
As I consider this cursed rite-of-passage of the female LIFE, my dear husband, Big O comes to mind… and I smile. “Oh, he’d totally buckle to his knees if he felt what I felt”. Then my 18-year-old son comes to mind. Then every other testosterone surging male I’ve come across.
Sure… a good part of the male population works out and takes pride in the size of their bulging 17 inch “biceped” arm (not a real word). Some can probably lift over 300 lbs or qualify to compete in The Strongest Man Alive by pulling along a truck set to neutral. Other men love bar brawls as proof of their ability to take a punch. Some reduce themselves to crushing beer cans against their foreheads. While a handful of stupid ones will take part in Jackass Movie-like antics to test their strength and endurance. You can’t EVER convince me that there is humor in Wasabi Snooters.
Science may prove them all “strong” by nature as far as a generalized gender, but I assure you that if succumbed to the following scenarios…
THEY… WILL… CRUMBLE.!!!
1. Menstruation, Period, Aunt Flo, The Crimson Wave… I don’t care what you call it. In essence, it’s our glorious (sarcasm included) body preparing itself for pregnancy. Why a young 9-year-old girl needs pregnancy preparation just makes this even more cruel. And more irritating is the fact that not all mammals menstruate. We just happen to be one of the “LUCKY” few. It’s the “Tough Mudder” equivalent of being a woman. No reward at the end except the pure satisfaction of knowing you made it through. “F” that…I want a damn medal! The obstacle course? Ready? Sharp abdominal pains, lower back aches, migraines, boob tenderness, bloating (everywhere), changes in skin (not for the better), increase or decrease of appetite (this may be a perk for some), diarrhea or constipation, sometimes both. Spikes and dips of serotonin better known as mood swings which include but not limited to different levels of depression, anxiety, attachment or detachment to loved ones, an insatiable need to cry (chick flicks should be banned), feelings of incompetence, prone to anger, easily offended (keep opinions to yourself during this time), irritability and maybe paranoia (was there a tone to his text), to only name a few. EVERY MONTH….FOR YEARS! The boys in my household cry when they get a splinter. A SPLINTER!
2. Pregnancy and Labor. I shouldn’t even have to explain this one, but here it goes. Apparently, Mother Nature has been preparing us all our lives for this moment (hence point #1 above), but it doesn’t even hold a 10-foot candle to the reality of this 10-month ordeal (yes, it’s 40 weeks). Some men truly believe that just because women are willing to go through this more than once, that it can’t be all that bad. Honestly, I too sometimes wonder why we insist, but regardless, it doesn’t minimize the level of pain that one suffers to bring all these men… and women in to the world. Let’s begin with the intense need to sleep and at the same time not being able to do so successfully due to the discomfort of having a watermelon sized human growing inside of us. Big O falls apart if he has a full week of insomnia, let alone months. Once again, we endure the back pains. Add to that the shoulder pains due to our growing boobs (no, this is NOT a good thing. Yes I’m talking to Big O.), edema of the feet and legs making our once cute feet now 2 sizes too swollen for our shoes, changes in our skin (despite popular belief, we don’t all have that “glow”), weight gain, nausea, nausea, nausea, burning hemorrhoids the size of marbles, and an abhorrence for what was once our favorite foods and odors. Did I mention nausea? We are permanent riders on the emotional roller-coaster, we get kicked by the foreigner residing inside of us and get prodded and poked by the doctors on the outside. For argument sake, I’ll go as far as to forgo all these “symptoms” and get to the meat and potatoes of it all. We go into LABOR. Intense, stabbing, sharp, heated, razor-blade pains called contractions occur to “let us know” that it’s time. If we choose to get an epidural, as I did, all three times (they didn’t all work), you still need to find a way to sit completely still during these contractions as they stab your spine with a HUGE needle. I’ve known women with a true fear of needles still give in to this procedure because labor TRUMPED fear. I have a male friend who’s muscular, athletic, plays football and endures injury, but literally cries when he sees a needle.
If a woman decides to go drug-less…well… ready for this? My epidural wore out during labor with my 2nd born. If contractions weren’t enough, I was not ready for the ignited burning sensation that would encompass the perimeter of my stretching vagina as my sweet unknowing baby crowned and passed through in to this world. This is aptly referred to as The Ring of Fire… considering that the ACTUAL Ring of Fire is an area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Sounds just about right! Oh, and the “piece de resistance” has to be the fact that during this time of baby crowning, a woman risks ripping. Yes, the spontaneous ripping of flesh. Are you still with me? If that happens, then she just gets sewn back up to never look the same again. Hello? Are you still there? Along with this are the women that get sliced in the abdomen if she needs a c-section. No, she is not spared from pain just because she had local anesthesia as they lifted her bundle of joy from her midsection. She needs to recover, and I can tell you from experience, the feeling of your skin trying to fuse back together is no picnic when you have to cough, sneeze or laugh. Any one of these involuntary actions will make your skin feel like it’s slowly tearing your soul apart.
3. GYN and Mammogram Exams. I’ll try not to get too personal on this one for the sake of keeping the male reader going if he was able to make it past #2. As women, we need to get at minimal a yearly gynecological exam which in essence means that this doctor slaps on a glove and pokes around inside of us….BOTH ENDS as his assistant stands behind him “watching”. This never fails to freak me out. Yes, that person standing there makes me more uncomfortable than this poky doctor. The doctor then clamps us open, and takes a cotton swab the length of a garden hose, I’m exaggerating of course, and swooshes it around up inside of us for “specimen”. Sure, many men need to deal with a colon exam where that rubber glove incident is comparable, and believe me, I know how much you hate it. I’m truly empathetic to your plight. But they only begin this process later in their lives (unless there’s a history of cancer), not the moment they become “active” in the playing field (I’m not talking about sports people…sex!…the moment they start having sex). If men had to deal with this standard examination at an earlier age, heck! it just may reduce the amount of names on their phone list. Then as if it weren’t enough dealing with our nether regions being invaded, we get to our forties and must now endure the dreaded mammogram. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t that even in this technological advanced year of 2016, the equipment and procedure used on most women is EXACTLY the same that was used on my mom in HER forties. Getting my boobs squished and flattened between two metal plates, while having to distort my body in some unnatural pose and hold for a few seconds, just seems so primitive and downright wrong. Imagine flattening the male testicles between two metal plates. I know, stupid comparison. Point is, it just SHOULDN’T happen.
4. Hair Removal. Yes, this one is by choice. But… in the spirit of the topic of this article… I’m including it. Personally, I can withstand getting my hair ripped off my skin for the sake of vanity. When I asked Big O how he’d feel if the same was done to his “down-there-boys”, he stone-cold stared me down with a lingering dirty glare. “Why? Why would you do that?” I could see the pain in his eyes at merely the far-fetched “what if” thought of this primitive practice. I laughed and moved along. Now, I understand that there are men out there that join the forces of women in plucking, waxing and ripping in order to have coveted baby smooth skin. Once you do the math though, the numbers prove that this is a female dominated practice…all in the name of vanity. After mulling it over, I guess you can safely equate this to a “shake your head” Jackass Movie antic.
The only point to this article was to declare that I’m not weak. Women are not weak. A self declaration of sorts. A declaration for all! Sure, I’m “weak-ER” than Big O on many aspects. I can’t bench what he does. And he chuckles when I land a full forced punch to his arm. “That’s cute. Pretty good, but cute”. I wouldn’t be able to take a punch to the jaw, but most men, (unlike in the movies), can’t either. Women withstand consistent physical pain and we want a medal. We deserve a medal. Well, I want a medal (and a glass of wine)! Plus, the Aleve and hot tea are not working, so I’m irritated and needed to let off some steam. This too shall pass.
— The Pretty Platform