The first time my period came down, I was sitting in the back of the bus, singing Claudinho & Buchecha songs, on a school trip to Tiradentes. I walked into that jolting bathroom reeking of dry urine and my panties looked like a scene directed by Tarantino.
My only recourse at the time was to fold yards of the worst quality hand-drying paper—the gray one with the texture of a cat’s tongue—and stuff it between my legs. I went back to my seat. There were still hours to reach our destination.
I tried in vain to communicate telepathically with my friends—perhaps I watched too many Young Witches. I knew that if I verbalized to any of them that I had gotten my period for the first time, the reaction would be effusive and my secret would reach the driver’s ears.
Now, the gang was screaming at the song Vampiro Doidão, whose lyrics are a supposedly transgressive bullshit when you’re a pre-teen. “I’m stoned vampire, I’m stoned vampire / I just suck menstruation blood.” The boys’ euphoria at that stanza was proportionate to my silent despair.
The history teacher finds it strange that I am so quiet. I’d rather get hit by an eight-axle truck than admit to a middle-aged man what was happening to me. I make up that I’m sick.
We arrived and went straight to lunch. That’s when a classmate, who had the charming habit of blowing his bangs out of his face, pulls me into a corner, showing a certain shyness. I thought fate had smiled on me—maybe I watched too many romantic comedies. He told me my pants were dirty.
Dirty was exactly how I felt. This week, I was transported to this feeling, when Bolsonaro vetoed Bill No. 4,968, authored by Congresswoman Marília Arraes, which determines the distribution of tampons to poor girls and women. I’m not part of the 26% of Brazilian women who don’t have the money to buy tampons. In Brazil, students miss an average of 45 days of class per year because they cannot attend during their menstrual period.
Perhaps the dirtiest part of this story was the defense of the veto by none other than our Minister for Women, the Family and Human Rights. Menstruating should not be a cause for shame, nor should it hurt the dignity of vulnerable women.
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