There are many topics that are considered taboo and not appropriate to talk about in a public setting. But who decides what those topics are?
The deciding factor is that it makes someone feel uncomfortable. Some things that make people feel uncomfortable are sexuality, femininity and things that are not “natural.”
Here are 3 topics that are consider taboo or inappropriate but really shouldn’t be:
50% of the population of the world are females. Females menstruate. It is a natural bodily function. Why are women ashamed of it?
Growing up, girls and even women hide their pads and tampons in their sleeves and pockets so no one knows the reason why they are heading to the bathroom. When we have it, we try not to be too emotional because it will reveal what week of the month it is.
Men never learn about menstruation. Tumblr user “Gehayi” wrote about an experience she had while working at the state capital. The representative she was interning for was vocal about his hatred for napkin and tampon dispensers in the ladies room. One day, she got her period and when she tried to excuse herself to go to the bathroom and he was adamant about her not going. She then explained to him that if she didn’t go, she would bleed through her pants, new skirt and even onto the chair.
“His face turned oatmeal-gray; an expression of pure horror spread across his face. He leaned forward and whispered, “Wait, you mean that if you don’t go, you’ll just keep on bleeding? I thought that women could turn it off any time that they wanted!””
“Geyayi” then had to sit the middle aged man down and explain to him the female reproductive system and menstruation. We can end the taboo and the lack of education just by simply talking about it.
2- Breast Feeding
The only acceptable way for moms to breast feed in public is to throw a blanket over the top of themselves and the baby. Breasts have been over sexualized in the media so the thought of one being exposed, even to just feed a baby, is not acceptable.
Breast feeding is not a social norm. It isn’t something that we expect to see when we go out to dinner or the movies but it is the most recommended way to feed by the medical community. Who should you listen to?
Even celebrity mom, Mila Kunis was shamed when she breast fed in public. Both Kunis and husband Kutcher felt awkward that they were being shamed for just feeding their child but her response was just perfect.
“In the States and in our culture, we sexualize the breast so much that there’s an aspect of it that people just don’t know how to wrap their head around the idea of showing your breast in public but I respect the opinions on both sides. If it’s not for you, don’t look.”
3- Men showing emotion/supporting each other emotionally
In our society, the only emotions that are considered “manly” ones are anger and pride. When young boys cry, they are told to suck it up and to stop acting like a girl. At a young age, boys are told to not feel valid emotions and by doing this causes a slew of negative consequences.
Men develop anxiety, depression and relationship trouble because of the inability to understand and process their feelings. They turns “feminine” emotions of sadness and fear into anger and rage. Men then create unhealthy coping mechanisms like heavy drinking and drug use since they cannot express themselves properly or they don’t understand how to. Serious mental health issues are common with men and suicide rates are 4 times high in men than women.
Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, a activist, journalist and professor, wrote on his twitter:
One of the tragic elements of hegemonic masculinity is that we’re taught that expressing emotions other than anger is ‘unmanly.’ As men, we are taught early not to express feelings of desire (other than sexual), longing, hurt, or insecurity. It cripples us romantically. So much of our lives must be spent UNLEARNING the things that the world teaches us about manhood if we are to have healthy relationships. As a result, many men enter relationships completely unequipped to be honest, loving, emotionally available partners. I certainly was.
By allowing children, both boys and girls, to feel their emotions properly, they can grow up well adjusted. If all people are allowed to feel their emotions properly and support each other, they will form healthier relationships.
These are just three things out of many that need to become normalized in our society. If we stop worrying about being taboo, we could be more comfortable with ourselves and around others. Social anxieties and awkwardness would occur less often and people would understand each other better.
In order to start normalizing these topics, the only thing that we need to do is talk about it.