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How Is My Daughter’s (or any girl’s) Menstruation, or Lack of, Your Business?

May 17, 2011

What makes people ask a mother of a daughter if the girl started her period yet or not? What exactly is to be gained by knowing this information? How is an unrelated girl’s business any business of the inquirer? Why should a mother of a daughter be expected to oblige the curiosity of others? What are you going to do for the girl and/or her mother when you learn this information?

7 Comments
  1. la redactora permalink
    May 17, 2011 3:44 am

    It’s a right of passage, and your daughter is presumed to be public property. Next they are going to ask you who she is fucking and/or scurry away to gossip about you and your daughter.

    • May 17, 2011 3:53 am

      You know, I don’t know if it is because I was young and dumb, don’t remember, or it just didn’t happen, but, I don’t remember the level of impertinence (what else can I call it) from acquaintances when I was raising my oldest daughter as I do now with this daughter. Moreover, each time I have been asked, I’ve turned around and asked why they want to know. A woman today actually said she didn’t know why and she ended up apologizing. At first, she tried to say, “Well I think people [I assume she means women, because she couldn’t possibly mean men when she says “people”] feel more protective toward girls who they know have started their periods. Then I asked, “Does that mean you don’t protect girls who have not started their period?” Then I started telling her about that poor 11 year old who was ganged raped by up to 30 men in Cleveland, TX and asked if knowledge of her period or not protected her from the rapes.

      Nevertheless, I want to know exactly why she and others want to know. I want them to examine why they are interested. What judgments are they attempting to formulate?

      I have a friend whose daughter is 17 years old and she is skinnier than hell (hence, the reason I even was remotely curious) and I have never dared asked her. WTF?

  2. la redactora permalink
    May 17, 2011 1:25 pm

    One possibility is that with your older daughter people wanted to ask these sort of questions but it was still too taboo. But you know, the world of reality t.v. and after-school specials* and “our bodies ourselves” has set us all free to ask rude questions.

    It does depend who is asking, but lately I have sensed a trend where later periods are more valued, and meant to reflect that parents didn’t feed you too much junk food, or something. Basically “good middle class people” wouldn’t brag about having a ten year old daughter with a period.

    You should definitely keep asking why, and post their responses :-).

    *dated I know.

  3. Mary Sunshine permalink
    May 17, 2011 11:50 pm

    Oh, Kitty, I was horrified when my mother told my father that I had started to menstruate. What should have been a private communication between my mother and myself became something humiliating.

    Then, when my daughter was approaching puberty, my mother (who by then was blind) wanted to know if my daughter was “developing” yet, and had she started having periods yet. I just never answered her. It felt so invasive, kind of lecherous, even.

    Is it some kind of misogynist ritual? The vibes were bad. The entitlement.

    All of the pervy attention being directed at little girls now, I hate it.

  4. May 18, 2011 7:41 am

    Ive noticed the same thing as la redactora. Later periods are seen as desireable, as a badge of good parenting, and general middle-class-ness. It is totally unacceptable to ask such personal questions, and Ild like to know what responses you get when you ask `why`?

    I have been asked that question about my girls a couple of times, and all in what has felt like a very competitive way. “Your daughter is developing faster than my daughter, so I am a better mother than you are.” Perhaps there is a hint of impropriety put upon a girl who has started mentruating, as if she is somehow sullied by the fact, is seen as more sexual. It is girl-hating in the highest degree, and a question I would never answer, if mainly out of loyalty to my daughters.

    To add to the list of questions that are totally unacceptable

    “Do your children have the same fathers, as x is so light” OR
    “Did you adopt?”
    “Has she had her first kiss yet?”
    “When did x start wearing a bra?”

    I generally ignore if in a good mood, and give them a verbal what for if in a not so great mood.

  5. June 28, 2011 6:36 am

    Yes, invasive. This has always bothered me. Glad you brought it up.

    And it’s true, it’s because women are public property expected to answer questions about anything having to do with sexuality. And people want to know who you’re sleeping with. (And to make sure you are — somehow that puts them at rest, the idea that you are somehow under someone’s putative control.)

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