Blood vs semen

Following my post yesterday about sanitary products, I was thinking about whether they really would be freely available if men[1] had periods. Whilst racking my brains for a suitable comparison, I suddenly realised there is a gooey liquid that male-assigned people produce in abundance, that can cause great embarassment during those awkward teenage years, and that many of them probably wish they could stop producing altogether – semen.

If roles were reversed, would blood be the thing that it was ok to leave in your sheets and your underwear for your parents to wash? Sure, few people would want it on their trousers, but if it happened, it wouldn’t be that big a deal? And it might leave a bit of a stain, but everyone would know it only takes a bit of soaking in cold water, or a gentle scrub, to get it out. No big deal.

And if girls produced semen[2], would there be special disposable receptacles for them to squirt it into, to discreetly fold up and throw away, lest anyone know that they’ve allowed their body to do this thing that it naturally does?

Someone on twitter questioned the validity of this comparison, on the basis that girls don’t choose to bleed, but boys could stop producing semen if they wanted (whether teenage boys would agree with that is another matter!). But to me, that supports my case even further. If period blood were the result of girls having a wank, it would be even less acceptable for anyone know that you’ve produced any. Even though this is something our bodies just do, that many women (and especially female-assigned others) actively hate and want to stop; we are still expected to hide it away, as though we’ve done something wrong.

Whether the details of this comparison stand up to greater scrutiny, it certainly reflects the patriarchal standard that what boys’ bodies do is normal, and what girls’ bodies do is wrong and should be carefully controlled.


[1] All usual ciscentric disclaimers apply!
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[2] I feel the need to say something about female ejaculation here, but can we just agree that it’s a rare enough case to not warrant throwing out this whole argument?
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2 thoughts on “Blood vs semen

  1. Very thought provoking Maeve. I would challenge you on the statement that “the patriarchal standard that what boy’s bodies do is normal”. From my own experience I was never told about wet dreams and what I was experiencing was normal. I worried lots about what was happening and I would frantically wash my PJ’s and sheets in the morning when it happened, hoping my Mum wouldn’t find out. It was huge problem when I shared a room my brother as I felt I had to hide it from my brother too. I didn’t think I was normal and nobody told me any different and I dared not share with siblings or friends. Things may be different now, I am of an older generation, boys can search on the internet and find out more.

    • Yes, someone else mentioned this on twitter just now – I think there probably is a changing standard in terms of normalising things like masturbation. And I’d definitely argue that the normalising process is further along for boys.

      Perhaps my original statement would have been better from the opposite point of view – that girls and womens bodies are heavily policed, to a greater extent than boys and mens. That doesn’t mean that male bodies aren’t policed at all, but ours are definitely more so.

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