When we’re menstruating, can’t we just say so? Apparently not. Check out some old and new phrases you might use to talk about your period without putting too fine a point on it!
The hilarious "Camp Gyno" commercial by the feminine product delivery service Helloflo has gone viral thanks to its irreverent humor but also its unapologetically frank language about menstruation. But even frank talk can include an occasional euphemism or two. The spunky young star of the ad uses the title of the classic 1895 Civil War novel "The Red Badge of Courage" to refer to her first period.
When the heroine of the 1995 cult classic comedy "Clueless" is explaining to her teacher why she was late to class, Cher Horowitz doesn't bat an eye as she says, "I was surfing the crimson wave." It's a decent metaphor, especially if you consider the ocean as your flow and the surf board as your feminine pad. Go ahead -- ride that tide! (Buy "Clueless" on Amazon.)
Why are you looking at a picture of the beloved "Golden Girls"? Was the sitcom a curse? Of course not --Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia are a blessing on humanity, especially in the episode where Blanche mourns the end of her reproductive years and remembers fondly when she first learned about having her period, a.k.a. "The Curse." (Buy "The Golden Girls: The Complete Second Season" on Amazon.)
Since the late 1980s, "Shark Week" has referred to a week of programming dedicated to everyone's favorite deadly fish. More recently, it's been used to refer to periods, helped along, no doubt, by a popular meme depicting the uncanny similarities between the shape of a shark's brain and a woman's reproductive system. Talk about a euphemism with teeth.
From Denmark, the country that brought us Legos and Vikings, comes this amusing euphemism, according to the 2009 book "Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation." The book's authors jokingly estimate that there are about "sixty trillion" euphemisms for menstruation worldwide, proving that even folks in "hip, sexy, sophisticated countries" can't help but slip into menstrual doublespeak.
Having your period is often a painful process, but unlike say, falling off the roof, it's not usually deadly. That notwithstanding, the roof euphemism has been around for decades and, according to the 1988 book, "The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation," might be a crude, inaccurate description of menstruation, with the menstrual flow "falling off" the "roof" of the womb.
It's a crude-sounding euphemism rooted in historical reality: before tampons and maxi pads, there were rags. "Rags were used to catch the flow of menstrual blood and then were washed to be used again," one former rag user remembers. "I used to stay in the house for days when my mother dried these rags on the clothesline." Thank goodness for modern technology!
This optimistic-sounding euphemism -- someone's offering a gift? yes, please! -- got the TV treatment in 2009 in a series of commercials for Tampax Pearl. The ads showed "Mother Nature" personified as a somewhat pushy, suit-wearing woman insisting on giving various women a red box -- their monthly "gift." No word if the gifts came with return receipts, but we're guessing no.
Your local supermarket may be offering a red dot special on produce, but if you're experiencing your own sudden red dot special, chances are you'll be more interested in the feminine hygiene aisle. With any luck, you'll get what you need there before your red dot turns into a crimson wave.
It's a euphemism for the computer age used notably by author Sonya Sones in the 2001 young adult novel "What My Mother Doesn't Know." In this case, biology may have the edge over technology...at least the ovarian operating system only has to be rebooted once a month.
Was there ever a more dreaded visitor than Aunt Flo? Unlike other aunts, she doesn't pinch your cheek or bring you birthday gifts...but she has been known to jab you in the stomach and ruin your favorite underwear. Then again, if you're trying to avoid conceiving, you're sure to get annoyed if Aunt Flo shows up late. It's basically a love/hate relationship, but hey, that's family for you.