Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Leaving the Pill Behind

Even though I have not had "relations" since Mr.3 left in January 2007, I have been still taking birth control....until this last month when I stopped. There are many reasons why, one of them being that for a while I felt like I would never ever find someone who would be willing to sleep with me again...but that has past. No, the more practical reasons were that I don't need to put my body through that hormonal stress if I don't have to. Birth control pills can make you gain weight and increases the amount of yeast that stays in your guts. Being a big girl, yeast is a constant issue....especially after the antibiotics from my ear infections ravaged my system---my GI track still has not recovered. As to weight and the pill, health-wise I need to lose weight if I want to have a baby some day, removing the pill (which I was starting to forget to take on a daily basis anyway) only makes sense in that long-term goal that I have.

Issues with stopping the pill...periods. On the pill, practically no periods or they lasted for one day. Without the pill, things are back to how they used to be...several days. It will take me a while to get used to this again.

As a strange side-note, I met a man last Friday. He is Hindu and, for reasons that I blush to discuss, the issue of me starting my period on Saturday has come up. So I started to look into the issue of how Hinduism treats the topic of menstruation. In Christian tradition women menstruate as a punishment for Eve...beware, don't get me started on the topic of original sin! In Hindu tradition menstruation comes from a negotiation:

In Hinduism, where rules of untouchability could be vast and complex, bleeding women were expected to avoid worship, cooking, and members of their own family through restrictions that were precisely proscribed; according to the Vendidad (16.4), a woman in her menses "should keep fifteen paces from fire, fifteen from water … and three paces from a holy man." Visiting a consecrated holy place during menses was highly contaminating and therefore forbidden, as were women's involvement in ritualistic worship practices in general. Such a stigma was explained in part by the Bhagavata Purana, which described the menstrual cycle as constituting a partial karmic reaction to Indra's inadvertent killing of a brahmana; according to the text, after Indra killed the brahmana, he proceeded to negotiate with four groups who agreed to absorb one-quarter of the karmic reaction in exchange for a blessing. Women received the blessing of engaging in sex during pregnancy without endangering the embryo in exchange for accepting the monthly menstrual cycle.

I find this interesting as at least it isn't woman's fault in one way or another. But of course women during this time are commonly still considered as "unclean". Husbands are not supposed to share the same bed with them, they aren't allowed to prepare food or do chores, and they aren't supposed to talk to a Brahman priest or participate in temple services. As my friend is of that caste I am going to ask him about this....but after my period is through in the effort of cultural sensitivity. In any case, it is still better than women are treated in the Jewish tradition...

Leviticus stated that while menstruating, a woman would be considered unclean for seven days and anyone who touched her would also be unclean. The taboo continued to be recognized by Orthodox Jews, who relegated bleeding women to their own secluded sphere or enjoined them to abstain from sexual intercourse for seven days, followed by immersion in the mikveh, or ritual bath. Such isolation accorded with what was thought to be women's special burdens-

Of course, in the effort of understanding the culture more of my new friend I have started reading up more on Hinduism, which has proved to be enlightening so far...

EDIT: See Within/Without's take on the subject and the comment war that follows.


neha vish said...

Some women don't go to temples, others do. Some families don't bother, others do. But personally, I don't think you need to bring it up at all. I've never seen it been brought up - it might embarrass him more than anything else. :)

Oh and there was a big war here on this issue.

Yes, kill the pill. It does ruin the system.

Delal said...

Wow, that is the comment war on your post. Judging my the reaction though it is still a hotbed issue. And certain things my friend said lead me to believe that there was an underlying issue....hence the research.

Hannah said...

Only Orthodox Jews practice that tradition still today and it isn't seen by Orthodox Jewish women as a punishment, rather as a time when they are relieved of some of their wifely duties so they can take care of themselves. Please don't lump all sects of Judaism together as they do not necessarily follow the same practices.

Delal said...

The quote I took was about Orthodox Judaism.
But the issue of whether or not this taboo (in multiple cultures) is seen as a punishment or not is an interesting one. I definitely don't like the idea of menstruation being seen as something unpure or unclean. I think that the ability to have children should be praised greatly.

But don't you find it odd that patriarchal societies have it as a taboo? I think that it stems from a deep-seated feeling of envy that women get to know when they have matured and men haven't. (There are a ton of anthropological dissertations on this subject.)

I'm glad that more and more women are rising up against these types of taboos. Because even though my friend said that he was "freaked out" by the situation....there is no need to be.

Hannah said...

I realize that the quote you took was about Orthodox Judaism, but your lead-in sentence implies that all Jews follow that tradition, as you say,"In the Jewish tradition" not "in the Orthodox Jewish tradition." In many cases, there is a significant difference in how the tradition is interpreted by difference sects of Judaism, but not in the tradition itself.

I do find the idea that a menstruating woman is seen as unclean to be troubling, but what I was trying to point out is that in all but the most extremely Orthodox Jewish groups, this is no longer the case, and even in those groups, the women don't view it as a burden.

Delal said...

I understand that. Neha pointed out a similar thing to me with the Hindu religion

I'm sorry that you felt that I was making a blanket statement about all Jewish groups. I didn't intend for it to look that way at all.

While I learned in my high school humanities class that that situation was how all Jewish groups handled menstruation, I have learned that it isn't the case in my work with my day job.