‘Who is Padman? What is a pad? What are periods? Why do women have periods?’
I can imagine a child asking these questions from his/her mother, father, and grandparents.
Some of them will choose to turn away or hush but I am excited about those who won’t. I am not worried about how many will answer, I am rejoicing the question.
If Arunachalam Murugunatham took pads to every home, I see Padman taking out the ‘shame’ around pad from every home.
Now not talking about periods will no longer be an option. You are regressive or progressive, you live in a high rise or the village, you eat in fine dining restaurants or from the chulha, you believe in the power of cinema or not. It doesn’t matter. With a mainstream hero flashing his charismatic smile on a cycle, you have no choice but to talk about it. And talking is the first and the biggest step. Rest will follow.
Had I not been a sexuality trainer, I would have been sitting in my comfortable living room not knowing to what extent people of our nation hide the biological phenomenon called menstruation. If at all they do, it is only in those remote villages of which we have never heard of.
The truth is there are lakhs of women who don’t talk about periods, who still don’t understand the importance of hygiene, who clumsily and painfully pass the five-day phase. And in same equal number are men who are ignorant and insensitive to this natural process. These lakhs belong to not just those remote villages but also our very own urban pinds and cities.
There is ample example of boys in schools exchange glances and pass amusing remarks when they see stains or girls walking to the clinic to get a sanitary napkin. In turn, girls don’t meet their eyes as if they have done something shameful. I am not sure if this is happening in ‘top-notch’ schools, but it very much palpable in the middle rung schools. We can’t blame the kids. That is how they have seen their mothers hide their ‘pads’ and their fathers avoid conversations around it.
When we get into classrooms for sexuality education, we find teachers and parents are still looking for a rulebook that can tell them when is the right age to talk with their children about puberty and changes in the body. Where they readily agree that children should be made aware about good touch and bad touch, they debate whether it is ‘too early’ to tell children about this biological change each one of us goes through. What they really want to know is how long can we ‘avoid’ or ‘postpone’ the question.
So now when young boys and girls point out at the billboards, newspapers ads, at the T.V. trailer, what will they do? Call the nearest sexuality trainer to ask what is the right age to answer?
Well, if at all there is a rule then here it is. Answer your kids when they question. Answer them in straight scientific facts.
With Padman, the question is out there right in the face.
I pray it becomes such a rage that no one can avoid it, both the movie and the question.