I confess, I got in to work today and I couldn’t be arsed. I’d had a crappy night’s sleep and my ear was hurting, which steadily progressed in to an ache in my eye and nose. My body was telling me that it would rather be lying down somewhere than looking at spreadsheets and getting annoyed by meeting after meeting getting cancelled at short notice.
The Swedes, presumably still reeling from not getting paid sex breaks, have sought to remedy an occasion where physiology can affect performance.
A charity is seeking to accredit companies as “menstruation friendly”. Mensen (Menses) was given a grant of 530,000 kronor ($58,400; £44,900) from the Swedish government’s Gender Equality Agency at the end of last year, and it has started inviting all employees of a business taking part in the pilot project to attend discussions and workshops about the effects of menstruation to try to break stigma around it.
“It’s something we have to talk about, because it’s a bodily function – a normal bodily function – just as being thirsty and you have to have water, or you’re hungry and you have to have a lunch break,” says Klara Rydström, who is leading the project.
There have been suggestions that discussion is not the only thing that will help. Women are being encouraged to share their dates and symptoms on spreadsheets so that everyone can be understanding. That is a step too far for some women who have said that their periods are none of their colleagues business.
According to the BBC:
Ivar Arpi, a columnist for Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet – currently writing a book about gender ideology – argues that suggesting women might need special treatment dredges up old anti-feminist arguments that men and women aren’t equal because “female bodies can’t be trusted to work properly for the whole month”.
“Now you get a ‘carte blanche’ to act bad and you can blame your menstruation. That’s really silly,” he argues.
Camilla Long of The Times phrased it slightly differently:
But who wants to be treated as if they have some kind of debilitating illness for three days a month? Who ever wants to let their boss know that they’re . . . indisposed?
Isn’t there some calm middle ground where we all acknowledge that women have periods and let them get on with normal work?
Oh, that’s what happens already.
For me, the arguments are relatively moot. I agree with Camilla’s comments that I don’t really know what a “menstruation-unfriendly” workplace looks like. I know men who share that they’re going for number 2 and I’ve been in offices where men and women alike explicitly talk about going for a wee. It has never occurred to me that women are less likely to talk about their period in the workplace out of shame, but because I would consider talk of most bodily functions to be a little bit of an overshare whether it’s exclusive to one particular sex or the other.
However, I realise that I’m saying that is a bloke, so discussion might be useful.
It’s an interesting part of any such debate like this, for me, though, that whether or not the issue only affects a part of the population, an extrapolation of its principles can move on from a gender debate to being one of whether or not we’re decent human beings. I’ve been lucky enough to have a boss who only needed me to say, “my head isn’t really in this today” and we’d deal with things when it was.
It’s a principle that I always took in to my own team leadership, because I know all too well that there are days when my performance is limited but that when I’m on it, I’m on it and it’s best maximising that time.
My boss didn’t question me. It was an acceptance that some things are more important (health being one) and trust that people will do their best. Sometimes none of us fancy it for whatever reason, but we’re conscientious enough that we’ll do out best when we can.
On a lighter note, the Daily Mail (yes, I know) have published an article about some Marks and Spencer trainers “exactly like” Meghan Markle’s trendy £115 ‘vegan’ trainers. So let’s take a look at them.
Now, I like a bit of hyperbole and exaggeration, but by “exactly like” I’m guessing that the Mail actually mean “similar to because they’re both predominantly white trainers with black V shapes in different orientations on the side”.