This Sign Is Absolute Proof That We Need to Be Talking About Our Periods

sign about pool periodsFor eons, menstruating women have been treated like pariahs. Even though the year is now 2016, it doesn't seem like much has changed. At least not judging from a viral story out of Tbilisi, Georgia. Last week, a woman named Sophie Tabatadze shared a photo of a sign displayed at Vake Swimming Pool and Fitness Club that states, "Dear ladies! Do not go to the pool during periods."


Unbelievable, right? But here it is:

Along with the photo, Tabatadze wrote, "Do you even realize how offensive this is? And, by the way, since according to your rules we are not allowed to use a swimming pool 5-6 days each month, do we get a preferential price compared with men? #mysogyny #mysogynyinaction"

Later, in an email to, she explained even further about why she decided to share the sign on social media: "We live in a strong patriarchal culture ... with lots of stigma associated with menstruation, which limits women's participation in sports."

That's for sure. That stigma has even cropped up during the Olympics. Just yesterday, Chinese Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui competed in the women’s 4×100-meter medley relay, and then gave an interview in which she admitted she was in pain, explaining, "Because my period came yesterday, I'm feeling a bit weak, but this is not an excuse."

Reacting to Yuanhui's quote, a female blogger wrote on the Chinese social media site Weibo, "[Menstruation] is an unspeakable issue in public for women, but Fu actually talked about it in a live interview ... Cool!" She tagged her post #FuYuanhuiPeriod, which was then searched nearly half a million times on Weibo by yesterday afternoon.

At the same time, the Weibo conversation reflected a lot of commenters' shock that it's considered hygienic and safe to swim when you have your period.

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Despite the fact that 50 percent of the freakin' world's population is comprised of women and we have amazing modern advancements now like tampons, apparently we're still stunned by the idea of a woman's admitting she has her period -- let alone admitting she got into a pool with her period.

How else can we explain the fact that's story needed to make it perfectly clear that "periods are not dirty and do not contaminate pools"? Give me a freakin' break. And just in case you needed a visual to make it easier to wrap your head around this, the expert Jen Gunter, MD, a San Francisco–area gynecologist, clarified that "vaginas are not open ... This means that when women swim, water isn't rushing into their bodies and then pouring out."

Hold up. Is this really something that needs to be explained to people? And by people, I guess, I mean men?

Sadly enough, the answer to that question is likely "yes." No thanks to the fact that the majority of images and talk out there about menstruation is completely sanitized. A British company called Bodyform made headlines just this year for using actual blood in a commercial for period products. It's part of the company's program, which aims to teach how changing hormones affect our nutritional needs and exercise regimens. And as points out, the ad also gets at the reality of having your period, which is that it's "messy, but not a bloody onslaught that knocks us out of the game."

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It's absolutely crazy to think we even have to clarify something like that. But frustratingly, both of these recent headlines prove stereotypes and stigma around our periods persist. So, these are messages that we still need to be sending: That periods are not dirty or shameful or unhygienic. They're healthy and normal. And that women shouldn't ostracized or benched for 3-5 days every. Single. Month.

We should all be taking cues from Sophie Tabatadze and Fu Yuanhui. They weren't afraid to talk about diving in while surfing the crimson wave -- just as none of us ever should be.

Image via Sophie Tabatadze/Facebook

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