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False accusations

play into rape culture

How students
celebrate their bodies

Reading into sexpositive literature

The Oppidan Press


Edition 6, 4 October 2016

The Sexual Health Edition


Photos: BRONWYN PRETORIUS AND JOSHUA STEIN

The Oppidan Press 4 October 2016

What it means to

falsely accuse

By Kathryn Cleary

n light of the recent #RUReferenceList protests, issues


surrounding false accusations of rape and sexual
assault - as well as defamation of character - have at
times occupied the same side of the metaphorical coin.
But what happens beyond hearsay and alleged dishonesty
is more than just a tarnished ego. The legal consequences
of falsely accusing someone of rape and sexual assault are
serious, and can affect both concerned parties for the rest
of their lives.
When the #RUReferenceList protests began, national
news was in uproar over the legality concerning the naming of alleged offenders on the list. eNCA wrote an article
following the release of the list, stating that, Suspects
accused of sex crimes are normally named only once they
have appeared in court and pleaded. Though the public
release of the list has been heavily criticised, the social
implications of this action called for a larger look at rape
culture in universities.
eNCA spoke with Dr Elisabet le Roux from Stellenbosch
University. Le Roux believes that the release of the list was
an act of power by those who had felt powerless, and thus

needed to be handled with due respect.


The South African legal system outlines that in cases of
accusation (false or not), the alleged perpetrator is innocent
until proven guilty. The issue with the legal system is that
it implies that the subsequent victims allegations are also
untrue, until proven true. This slippery slope is not useful in
litigating cases of rape and sexual assault, but only adds to
the pre-existing grey area of the social issue.
Concerning charges of defamation of character, the issue
then becomes more twisted. By falsely accusing someone of
rape and sexual assault, the truth and veracity surrounding
legitimate cases of this crime are de-legitimised. Rather than
rape and sexual assault allegations being viewed as horrendous crimes and human rights violations, they are viewed
as products of anger or jealousy that could be used against
another person as a form of social coercion. The Law Dictionary defines defamation of character as a false statement
[having been] written or spoken about an individual with
the intent of harming or slandering their reputation.
With false accusations of rape and sexual assault playing a
part in the larger issue of rape culture, we cannot ignore the
social, mental, and emotional consequences of falsifying an
event that has such severe impact.

On average 150 womxn


report rape daily
Fewer than 30 cases will be
prosecuted
No more than 10 will result in
conviction
Overall conviction of 4%-8%
of reported cases
-Sourced: timeslive.co.za

HOW I LEARNED

to Drive:

Tackling the intricacies of sexual abuse


By Sboniso Thombeni

TW: Discussion of sexual assault and rape

Photo: VICTORIA BRIGGS

Relevance, revelations and realisation: this perfectly sums up the


experience that is How I Learned
to Drive. Directed by Laine Butler
for the Young Directors Season,
the play is set in 1960s America and
follows the turbulent life of protagonist Lil Bit (played by Michelle
Mosalakae). Lil Bit takes on the role
of the narrator with the help of the
Greek Chorus.
The chorus was not only perfectly
in sync, but also produced stellar
characteristics of the different family
members in Lil Bits household - a
household complicated by the final
character, Uncle Peck (played by Lolo
Malumo). As the title suggests, Lil
Bit learns how to drive due to the
generosity of her uncle. However, she
also learns to survive in a patriarchal,
misogynistic society as a victim of
sexual abuse.
Commenting on the relevance
and sensitivity of this over arching
theme in the play, Butler says that
theatre is supposed to be a reflection
of the society it finds itself in. She
comments, The play deals with the
subtleties of consent, something that
seems to be very prominent in talking
about sexual abuse at the university:
what is consent, how is it given [and]
more importantly, when it seems to
be given freely yet the person doesnt
actually want to be participating

in whatever the sexual act may be.


Butler believes that How I Learned to
Drive brings these issues to the fore,
especially surrounding sexual abuse
by someone you know, for example
on campus when your abuser can be
a classmate, a tutor, a friend, someone
from your circle.
The cast succeeded in powerfully
portraying the dynamics of sexual
assault, including issues like victim
blaming. There was integrity present
even down to the staging: simple and
effective, using just a kitchen table
and chairs for the home scenes, and
a bench and lamppost for others.
The fluorescent lighting and shadows
worked well with connotations of
shame and secrecy associated with
sexual abuse. What sealed it perfectly
was the simple costume of the two
main characters, Lil Bit and Uncle
Peck, against the neutral, flesh-toned
undergarments of the chorus.
I knew that no matter that it was
set in the 60s in America, a contemporary South African audience would
relate to it. I think that is the tragedy
of this play. Nothing has changed in
all those years and across borders,
says Butler. As the fight against rape
culture continues on campus and
around the world, this quote is a revelation to reflect on. How I Learned to
Drive aimed at driving the conversation further and it did.

The STI you havent


thought about
HPV

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e.
ed to
ore,
buse
ple
n be
meone

ully

im
sent
e and
le
and

By Leila Stein
he Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is one
of the most common sexually transmitted
infections and has been estimated as being
responsible for more than for more than 50 percent
of cases of cervical cancer in womxn. Since it is not
well publicised in South Africa many womxn have
not been vaccinated against it.
HPV is an STI which is contracted through skin to
skin contact. Although there are hundreds of strains
of HPV which are not life-threatening, those that are
of most concern are strains 16 and 18 which cause
cervical cancer and strains 6 and 11 which cause
genital warts. HPVs link to cervical cancer is of great
importance as cervical cancer is the leading cause of
deaths from cancer in Southern African womxn.
Unlike other well-known STIs such as HIV,
condoms do not protect womxn from contracting it.
In addition, men may carry the HPV strain but are
unlikely to show any symptoms.
Womxn can be vaccinated against HPV. There are
currently two vaccines on the market, Gardasil and
Cervarix. Each requires three injections over a year
period. Cervarix covers strains 16 and 18 (cervical
cancer) while Gardasil covers all strains.
While it is advisable to be vaccinated before you are
sexually active, with the South African government

rolling out vaccination drives for schoolgirls from age


9, most doctors recommend that even womxn who are
sexually active to get the vaccine.
I would recommend any womxn, even if they are
sexually active, to get vaccinated, said Dr Meihuizen
in an interview in 2015, there is no way of knowing if
they have been exposed but then if they havent been
exposed to all of the strains they will be protected.
Currently students can only get the vaccinations
at clinics or private doctors. They are either required
to pay high fees, or are only slightly covered by their
medical aid. The HPV vaccination costs R840 for each
Gardasil shot and R856 for each shot of Cervarix.
When on Discovery Health medical aid, this price is
slightly lower at R677.
We would love to do it here. There has been a lot
of interest from students, said Sister Heather Ferreira,
Head nurse at the Health Care Centre in 2015. The
cost price of each injection is so high, though.
Since there is no way to detect if you have contracted HPV, it is advisable to go to a doctor the minute
any odd symptoms appear which may be identified as
genital warts. In addition, womxn who are sexually
active should have a pap smear at least once a year. It
is through early detection of irregular cells that fast
treatment of cervical cancer can happen.
Pap Smears and Cervical cancer screenings at lab
price can be done at the Health Care Centre.

4 October 2016 The Oppidan Press

What does body


positivity mean
to you?
By Kathryn Cleary
The Oppidan Press asked students their thoughts on topics relating to body positivity. The responses were generated anonymously through an online survey and provide
positive insight, into even more positive - positivity. Heres what you had to say!

What does body positivity mean to you?


Accepting the body that you were born with regardless of whether other people find it
beautiful.
Body positivity means looking in the mirror everyday and choosing not to listen to the
negative things my family tell me about my body, smiling at myself and walking away like
the queen I am.
Confidence about how you look, a way of looking at yourself through a softer lens that
celebrates beauty in many different ways rather than harshly scrutinising what might make
you imperfect according the prescribed idea of perfection perpetuated by society.

How do you practise self-love?


I practice self-love by surrounding myself with people who love and cherish me, and
whom I love and cherish too.
I rock clothes that I like no matter what shape people may think theyre intended for.
I love being naked in my house and I look at myself in the mirror when Im naked and
tell myself Im beautiful and I watch myself dance and appreciate all the beautiful ways my
body moves.
I masturbate.

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to reclaim your body?
How did you go about this?
My aunts and cousins were telling me how fat I was and how I needed to lose weight
and look a certain way or I would never get married and basically telling me I was ugly.
I responded by giving each one of them a compliment and telling them that I love them.
After that, I told them some of the things I love about myself and proceeded to explain to
them how the love I have for myself is more than enough.
I had to reclaim my body after coming to terms with my sexual assault back in high
school. For so long I used my body as a tool to appeal to (specifically) men. And I allowed
these men to use me in return. Upon coming to university, I reclaimed my sexuality and
thus reclaimed myself from the internalised thought that my body was made for the pleasure and satisfaction of others.

th
fectly
wo

I used to be extremely bulimic. I had no self worth and didnt positively identify with
my body. I forced myself to start therapy with a mental health professional, and identified I needed to change my environment. I met new people, I travelled to new places and
embraced new experiences and learned about the beautiful diversity of the world and
culture and it helped me to appreciate the diversity in body types and find the physical
beauty in myself.

oned

How do you celebrate your body?

was
would
gedy
d in
s,
ape

I take selfies and I try to dress up at least once a week and do a little dance in front of the
mirror while I tell myself how pretty I am.

dows

revned to
ersa-

I celebrate my body by keeping her clean. I wash her every day, and apply soothing
moisturiser straight after. I decorate her in expressive piercings and colourful tattoos. I
show her off to the world if and when I feel like it. Every night when I slip into bed, I thank
my body for the places she has taken me.
I take nude photos of myself.
*Submissions have been edited for clarity.

The Oppidan Press

4 October 2016

The Oppidan Press

Infographic: Leila Stein

Although September may serve to indicate the final term and approach of
the dreaded exam season, it also marks the annual Sexual Health Awareness
month. Organisations in 35 countries around the world strive to facilitate
conversations that promote healthier attitudes towards sex, as well as constructive ways to discuss STIs, STDs, consent, and contraception. Every year,
a different theme is set in place. This year, we chose to focus on the myths
surrounding sex, that tend to prevent healthy ideas about sex and general
wellbeing. However, other themes in past years have been centered around
sexual health for all, as well as sexual rights and responsibilities.
In this Sexual Health special edition of The Oppidan Press, we take a look
at recent discussions on campus regarding false accusations of sexual assault
and rape, and the effects it has on both the individuals involved, as well the
movement against rape culture on university campuses. In addition, students
tell us how they celebrate their bodies in a world that often tells them not
to. This edition also features work captured by third-year photojournalism
students for last months Womxns Day, providing insight into what womxnhood means for the featured womxn in the photos. Lastly, we reflect on the
recent Olympics, and the discrimination womxn experience with regards to
their periods in the world of competitive sports.
Although articles of a triggering nature will be accompanied by a trigger
warning, we would like to offer a general trigger warning for this edition as a
whole, as we are aware that we deal with potentially sensitive topics.
You will notice that in this edition, we have utilized the word womxn
in the place of woman. This is in order to move beyond the social norms
concerning gender and sexuality, but to provide a more inclusive, nonbinary approach. Although there are various alternatives such as womyn or
wommon, we have opted to use this spelling, as it is the most inclusive.
Until our next edition,The Oppidan Press team wishes you all luck in this
final term as you gear up for November exam season.

The Oppidan Press staff and contact details


Editor-in-Chief: Lili Barras-Hargan. Deputy Editor: Kathryn Cleary.
Advertising Manager: Bianca Matthis. Finance Manager: Zikisa
Maqubela. Print Editor: Ashleigh Dean. Politics Editor: Kathryn Cleary.
Opinion Editor: Lebogang Thulare. Assistant Opinion Editor: Aviva
Lerer. Arts & Entertainment Editor: Ayanda Gigaba. Assistant Arts &
Entertainment Editor: Emma Campbell. Environment Editor: Joshua
Stein. Sports Editor: Samantha Johnson. Chief Photo Editor: Bronwyn
Pretorius. Assistant Chief Photo Editors: Kyle Prinsloo, Vicky Patrick.
Sub-Editors: Stuart Wilson. Chief Designer: Tiffany Mac Sherry. Assistant
Chief Designer: Lauren Dixon-Paver. Online Editor: Leila Kidson. OppiTV
Chief Editor: Phiwo Dhlamini. OppiTV Managing Editor: Mayo Twala.
OppiTV Content Editor: Pumla Kalipa. OppiTV Deputy Content Editor:
Zama Luthuli. OppiTV Webcast Producer: Lungelo Masinga. OppiFM
Chief Editor: Julia Fish. OppiFm Deputy Editor: Paige Muller. OppiFM
Managing Editor: Collette Prince. OppiFM Content Editor: Refilwe
Mofokeng. Ombudsperson: Professor Anthea Garman.
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Sex Positive:
The Nouveau Sex-Style Literature
By Elle Williams
When people think of sex in modern literature, many
think of the best-selling novel by E. L. James, Fifty Shades
of Grey. However, sex positivity represents healthy sex in
positive ways, emphasising the importance of enthusiastic, ongoing, and conscious consent. Here are a few sex
positive novels to add to your reading list:
Forever Judy Blume
Forever illustrates the relationship between Katherine and
Michael, who meet at a New Years Eve party. The book
explores a typical boy-meets-girl theme, and the two eventually fall in love. Forever perfectly portrays first love, with
protagonist 17-year-old Katherines responsible and mature
attitude allowing talk of her sexual antics to be less restricted by taboo. The novel covers important issues regarding sex
positivity, including contraceptive pills, family support and most importantly - consent. Forever is a sincere portrayal of
first love and looks at sex for what it is.
Anatomy of a Boyfriend Daria Snadowsky
This novel can be said to be this generations response to
Judy Blumes Forever. Anatomy of a Boyfriend reveals the
ecstasy and suffering of love. It is also a bold account of sex.
Dominique, an aspiring medic, finds love in her best friend.
The sex discussed in the novel can be depicted as almost

clinical. Those who are curious about sex but are afraid to
ask questions may find answers in this book.
Rainbow Boys Alex Snchez
Rainbow Boys is the first book of a trilogy and depicts the
lives of three teenage boys who are coming of age and are at
different stages of coming out. Rainbow Boys conveys the
struggles these boys face in terms of sexuality. It also takes
an honest approach to looking at homosexual relationships
in modern society. Snchez lists support groups within the
body of his novel, as well as contact information of organisations which could aid those in need at the end of the book.
The most appealing factor of Rainbow Boys is its honesty
and authenticity. Snchez remarkably portrays the personal
stories of the boys within heavily debated societal issues.
This book honestly illustrates the struggles an LGBTQIA+
individual may experience in their life.
Luna Julie Anne Peters
Luna tells the tale of Liam, a teen whose real self appears
at night: Luna. With the help of the protagonists sister
Reagan - and her clothes and makeup - Luna feels like she
comes alive and can be her true self. Luna explores the
struggle of a transgender teens self-identity and appreciation, as well as the appreciation of loved ones. Lunas honesty and sensitivity in the characters explorations grasps the
reader, providing education and insight.

4 October 2016

The Oppidan Press

A lack of health care facilities and information about safe and legal abortions in Grahamstown means that many students and residents turn to backstreet abortionists. Photo: RICHAL CHETTEY

The A word

By Kathryn Cleary

TW: Discussion of abortion

n South Africa, abortion is legal up until the 20th week


of pregnancy.
The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (1996)
outlines that pregnancy may be terminated upon request of a
womxn during the first 12 weeks from the 13th up to and
including the 20th week of the gestation period.
At the University Currently Known as Rhodes (UCKAR) in
Grahamstown, the topic of sex education has been in the spotlight since the #RUReferenceList protests shook the Universitys
business as usual academic programme. Students and staff
continue to debate topics of consent and safe sex in the hopes of
bringing about social change in the University system. Although
these serve as crucial points of education, discussions relating to
pregnancy and abortion remain hidden behind closed doors.
Jabulile Mavuso, a second year PhD student from the Critical
Studies in Sexualities and Reproductions Research Programme
emphasises, The government never puts out information about
abortion. Womxn might know that its legal, but they dont
know where to go. Its a huge problem. The University could
definitely get involved.
2015 Chairperson of the Gender Action Project, Gorata
Chengeta, adds: I think the university could inform students
about abortion better by providing information through pamphlets and through posters in residences and in the Oppidan
dining hall. There needs to be a step-by-step guide provided,
which provides up-to-date information about all the options
available to students - what different procedures entail, and how
much they cost.
Dr Catriona Macleod of UCKAR writes, A number of fallacious assumptions undermine the effectiveness of measures to
prevent or terminate a pregnancy. Macleod authored the 2015
article People need to know more about abortion and contraception featured in Bhekisisa.
Macleod refers to Yogan Pillay from the Department
of Health, quoted as saying, What we dont want to do is

For more information relating to pregnancy, abortion, and sexual health,


please contact the following

encourage unnecessary abortions. Its a balance between making these services available, destigmatising them and creating
awareness, and at the same time not encouraging people to use
it as an alternative to contraception.
In university residences, contraceptives such as condoms are
provided free to students, but information about pregnancy and
abortion appears to be absent.
Mavuso comments, If you have this idea that unintended
pregnancy is a big no-no, then your emphasis is going to be on
preventing that in the first place.
Marie Stopes South Africa, a leading non-profit organisation for topics relating to sexual and reproductive health says,
Only condoms offer dual protection: [preventing] pregnancy as
well as the transmission of HIV and STIs. Stopes also provides
information for safe abortion, including assistance in finding a
safe abortion centre, medical provider, and support systems.
So whats the problem?
If students have access to free contraceptives and resources for
safe abortion, where is the gap?
The Universitys Health Care Centre lists family planning advice/pregnancy tests under services. Pamphlets are available on
contraception as well as Heart Matters Pregnancy Care Centre,
a local clinic, but nowhere is there information about abortion.
Mavuso says that, They refer you to Port Elizabeth, and to
Marie Stopes. The problem with Marie Stopes is that there is
a cost attached, its not free. In 2013 it was R1 500 to R3 000.
Along with a hefty pricetag, neither of these options are local or
easily accessible to students.
Though the Health Care Centre is an easy go to, this is not a
secure option for all students.
So then what?
Googling the phrase Grahamstown abortion clinics is uncomfortable, but surprises the user with options promising safe,
pain-free, and easy.
One option, Dr Deno, informs of their use of the abortion
pill: The abortion pill is a medicine that ends a pregnancy. The
medical name for the abortion pill is mifepristone. It works by
blocking the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, the

Settlers Hospital
Milner Street, Cradock Heights,
Grahamstown
6139
046 602 5000

Heart Matters Pregnancy Care Centre


4 Howse Street,
Grahamstown
6140
078 396 2169

lining of the uterus breaks down and the pregnancy cannot continue. The abortion pill is followed by another medicine called
misoprostol which makes the womb contract, causing cramping
and bleeding similar to a miscarriage.
A phone number is provided at the bottom of the online
advert. Ruth Atkinson investigated a similar advert in KwaZulu
Natal, and wrote of her experience in GroundUp (2014) titled
Behind the abortion adverts. Atkinson writes, According to
a 2006 study, of the 70% of South African womxn who were
aware that abortion was legal, 48% did not realise there was a
time limit involved. She went on to say that almost 50% of the
abortions carried out in South Africa are illegal.
Atkinson spoke with Dr Herbert Ringanayi from Stanger
Hospital. He said that even if womxn know that free legal
abortions are available, often they will visit a backstreet
abortionist for assured confidentiality. In a small community,
the person who works at the clinic may well know the patient
and her family.
In a small community like Grahamstown, it is no surprise
that search engines had much to reveal about its backstreet
abortionist culture. Mavuso states that this is linked directly
to the stigmas associated with abortion. In small rural areas,
womxn have a fear of being seen and recognised by someone
else, especially in primary healthcare clinics, which in a rural
area, everyone is using the same clinic. She further comments,
We have a shortage of healthcare providers who are actually
willing to do it in the first place.
For a UCKAR student, navigating the mental and emotional
responsibility of abortion is far from straightforward. Looking
at services available in Grahamstown, the list comes up short.
Mavuso adds, It would just be Settlers, but they arent being
transparent at all.
The unfortunate truth?
Mavuso states, Its so much easier to just walk down the street
and see a poster. Although these posters may never be fully
scratched off the walls, their popularity can be drastically reduced with a greater focus on education and resource enhancement. Only until this gap is bridged, can backstreet abortionist
culture be fully scratched from society.

Marie Stopes South Africa


444 Govern Mbeki Avenue,
Port Elizabeth 600, 4th floor (elevator
next to Jet),
Pier 14 Shopping Centre. 080 011 7785

Rhodes University Healthcare Centre


046 603 8523

The Oppidan Press

4 October 2016

Alternative period products


By Lili Barras-Hargan

eriods effect people across the world. However,


conversations around the topic have only recently
become less taboo. As a result we have seen various
sanitary products enter the market with the aim of broadening
choices from the standard sanitary pad and tampon.
Menstrual cup
The menstrual cup is a flexible cup made of medical grade
non-allergenic silicone. It is folded and inserted into the vagina,
where it unfolds to hold capacities of up to 30ml, on par with the
average amount of blood lost during a complete menstrual cycle.
There are various brands available throughout South Africa,
such as the Mooncup and Diva Cup.
A prominent benefit of the menstrual cup is its longevity. With

a lifespan of up to ten years, the cup presents a cheaper option in


the long-run and also eliminates an average of 2 400 disposable
tampons from landfill sites around the world, according to
research carried out by Diva Cup.
However, the initial cost involved in purchasing a menstrual
cup often deters people. With prices of up to R700 in local
Grahamstown shops, the menstrual cup simply is not accessible
to everyone.
Period-friendly underwear
Although the menstrual cup presents a cheaper option in
the long-run as well as a more environmentally conscious one,
some people find the insertion of internal menstrual devices
uncomfortable and complicated. Companies such as Thinx and
Lunapads have responded to this with a selection of fashionable,
comfortable and period-proof underwear. The reusable

underwear is odour-proof and moisture-absorbing, leaving you


feeling dry all day.
In the case of Thinx, various styles are available for each day
of your period. The hi-waist and hiphugger options can hold
the liquid equivalent of two tampons, whereas options such as
the cheeky and thong hold one tampon and half a tampon
respectively. The innovative multi-layered lining combines
an antibacterial layer with a second, moisture absorbing layer
rendering them anti-microbial, moisture wicking and leak proof.
However, costing almost R450 per pair, the new technology is
beyond the means of many South Africans. Furthermore, in order
to utilise the underwear for the duration of your cycle, multiple
pairs are necessary.
Nonetheless, as these technologies gain popularity and enter
into the mainstream of the menstrual health industry, perhaps
they will become more accessible.

A look at Womxnhood

Photo: DANIELLA PALLOTTA

Last term the third-year photojournalism students were


required to create their own innovative Vox Pops in
celebration of Womxns Day. Daniella Pallotta and Joshua
Stein showcase some of the work they produced.
As a womxn in the 21st century, how do you practise
self-love and self-care?
Firstly, I meditate. I try to do it at least once a day, but twice is better. It
helps me reconnect with myself and my body, and forget all the things
that don't actually matter. I also write all that I am feeling, it helps release
emotions. It's a lot of simple things too, like taking extra time while showering to appreciate every part of your body, and say hey. I have a body
that does a whole bunch of cool stuff for me, thanks! What I think we all
need to do every day is to look at ourselves in the mirror and go, "I love
you. You're magic, and sunshine, and deserve the universe. - Amy Pieterse

Photo: DANIELLA PALLOTTA

How has the pill helped you in your everyday life, in instances that dont
always involve sex?
I went on the pill in high school and it was the biggest relief. It gave me control back to my life. I didnt have to worry about my period coming and going
as it pleased, and finding out through embarrassing red stains on my dress. I
no longer had to miss days from school because I was in so much pain I would
sometimes pass out. It took me a while to convince my mom to let me take
it though. I think she thought I was just using my period as an excuse to get
on the pill so I could have sex. I definitely think society only views the pill as a
contraceptive and not something that can be taken to make that time of the
month a lot easier. - Jemma Scroope
Photo: Joshua Stein

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Photo: DANIELLA PALLOTTA
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What does getting a period every month mean to you as someone who
identifies as a womxn?
I grew up with a mom who said I should celebrate my period because it was
actually something beautiful and having one was part of my Womxnhood. I
bleed for a few days every month, for a couple of years- with all of the period
things attached, and survive it. I think thats a testament to how badass
womxn can be. - Nakita McFarlane

What was something you were told you cannot be or do because you are
a womxn?
Growing up as a little girl, I was scolded if ever I was crude or unladylike. Not
necessarily by my parents, but I could sense the disapproval of those around
me. I put off any intimate encounters until I was about 16. Prior to that, any
activities I took part in that involved boys were always watched carefully so to
ensure that I did not do any fraternising. Post-16 years of age I discovered my
sexuality and sexual freedom, and decided to celebrate it instead of hinder it.
This, however, brought me to another extreme where men would often take
advantage of my sexual confidence, not realising that being open-minded
about sex and pleasure did not equate to consent. Womxn are often taught
to not be overtly sexual because it is not right and can lead to problems such
as harassment and rape. I feel as if womxn are not yet seen as sexually on par
with men. - Daniella Pallotta

4 October 2016

The Oppidan Press

ont

conoing
ss. I
would
Many feel that it is unhygienic for a womxn to exercise whilst on her period, however, it is a natural occurrence and nobody should feel embarrassed by it but rather proud.
ke
Photo: BRONWYN PRETORIUS.
get
as a
the

Period positivity:

why we need to talk about menstruation and sport

By Samantha Johnson

u Yuanhui, a Chinese Olympic swimmer who competed in


the womxns 4 x 100m relay, recently made headlines across
the world. Not because of her performance, but because she
openly discussed the effect her period had on her training.
Her comments received praise from many people on social media. She also received a lot of criticism from her male counterparts,
as they felt it was unhygienic to swim while menstruating.
When menstruation first begins code words are often used to
explain whats happening without actually having to say it. Phrases
like Aunty Flo is visiting, the red bus has come or girl flu are
phrases commonly used to poorly explain menstruation. However,
using code words to speak about menstruation makes it seem like
something to be ashamed of.

Menstruation conversations are often seen as taboo and


something that can only be discussed with a maternal figure and
close friends. This mindset needs to change because periods are a
natural indication of a healthy body.
Although the menstruation process happens in the ovaries and
womb, it affects various other functions within the body. A regular
period means that your hormones are in balance and that your
reproductive, thyroid and metabolic systems are in good working
condition. A regular menstrual cycle is 28 days. In the first 14 days,
testosterone levels are higher which means sexual desires increase.
By day 13 testosterone levels peak when ovulation begins.
Menstrual symptoms include cramping, headaches, backaches
and mood swings. Stress often increases the level of pain experienced while menstruating. There are various ways to alleviate the
discomfort and pain, including applying gentle heat to the area

where the ovaries are located, eating chocolate and taking pain
medication. Although exercise may not sound appealing, it has
been known to be a great pain reliever. Exercise is a well-known
stress reliever. It encourages the circulation of blood throughout
the body which helps to alleviate the pain felt. It also reduces the
duration of the hormone imbalance experienced which means the
cramping doesnt last as long as it normally would. By reducing
the duration of cramping, less medication is needed.
The stigma attached to periods needs to be abolished. Instead
of conceiving of periods as gross or unhygienic, we should be
encouraging everyone to speak out about their experiences. We
should teach from an early age that a period is a good thing. Instead of hiding their sanitary pads and tampons, everyone should
be able to walk to the bathroom tampon in hand and know that it
is a natural and normal process.