anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

PMS Thoughts

The past few days have been rather physically trying, thanks to a female-only affliction called PMS. I have spent the past three days feeling incredibly bloated and looking as if I'd become 9 months pregnant overnight. The unsightliness of a bloated stomach aside, what was even worse was how painful it was, especially yesterday. I must have triggered the pain when I had a particularly strong cup of coffee. I realised when I was in Cambridge a few months ago and had free coffee at the faculty that too-strong coffee hurts my stomach, a realisation that should have occurred to me earlier given that I'd been drinking the free coffee for a while now and somehow, always ended up with a stomach ache (the painful bloating type, not the runny diarrhoea type). Amazing how it took me so long to put two and two together.

I have been bloated today but it hasn't been as painful as yesterday. My PMS symptons are starting a tad too early for the predicted start of my next cycle, which is two days after the half-marathon. Now I'm starting to worry that I will be unlucky enough to get my period on the day itself. Imagine that: running a race with half of Singapore crammed all around me, and starting my period mid-race. Will I stop to take care of it, or will I continue? This is an insincere question for there is no doubt as to the answer. That is: I will not allow my period to interfere with what I have been working consistently towards over the past 8 weeks. I will not allow it to undermine my efforts, to ruin my attempt to achieve a goal and derive some satisfaction from that, an achievement that I sorely need given the near-complete absence of achievements in other aspects of my life. So if I start bleeding mid-race, then it will just have to keep bleeding until I finish the damn race, possibly with menstrual blood running (ha, ha) down my legs, and am able to put on a pad. Narrow-minded Singaporeans can just go stuff themselves; I don't care.

For too long, women have been told to be ashamed of our periods. I used to feel embarrassed when I have to take a pad out of my bag before going to the toilet, more so when I'm wearing a skirt or a dress with no pockets. I no longer see why I should be ashamed of something that occurs naturally and which is necessary for the propagation of the human race (not that I think it ought to be propagated). The hypocrisy of the patriarchy is staggering.


I feel enervated and weighed down by this biological function that I am inflicted with. This time of the month always makes me think about the question of autonomy (that is, in addition to the times I have to think about it for my PhD). Am I really free if I am autonomous enough to know that the reason I'm feeling down, or annoyed, or cranky, is because of my hormones, but not autonomous enough to choose to rise above these hormonal negative emotions and feel something else? Sometimes, it seems to me that philosophy makes stuff up that science (broadly construed) can easily dispute.

I was never much a feminist for most of my life. Even now, as I am writing this, I find myself hesitating to call myself a feminist. Still, I became aware of these issues, of the stratified privilege that I enjoy, when I read Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. And now, Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. Admittedly, it is a bit of a painful and tedious read, due partly to the clunky translation and partly to her sharp eye to detail. To put the latter point another way: it is rather repetitive. To put it politely.

As provoking and important these ideas are, sometimes I wonder what is the point of it all. Sexism has been so entrenched in our consciousness that I wonder how reading a book will change anything. It sometimes seems as if I read these things just to feel smarter than most people, to condescend towards those that unwittingly pass on gendered ideas and practices as if they are somehow at fault for being conditioned a certain way. But are they not though? Do I demand too much of a person to expect him/her to be capable of critical thinking, including critical self-reflection? If a woman does not question her headscarf, is my disdain towards her justified at all, or even excusable?

Some feminists say that to try to fit women into the typical philosophical conception of autonomy--rational agency, in other words--is to try to force women to become men. Instead, there are other aspects of autonomy that ought to be recognised, aspects traditionally associated with femininity.

Is my self-conception gendered as well? Do I feel revulsion at the thought of being a stay-at-home mom not so much because there is anything inherently sexist about it, but because my idea of autonomy has been influenced by (white) men and so being a stay-at-home mom can be an autonomous choice only if the woman has considered other options and rejected them? Isn't it curious, the thought that my fierce belief in my essential freedom as a human being but particular freedom as a woman--namely, it will not be restrained by sexist notions--are deeply and significantly informed by just those sexist notions that I declare will not restrain my freedom.


I am so tired of running. I am so tired right now.

On a happier note, I bought--or rather, my mom bought me--a new laptop after my Lenovo pretty much died. I am now a proud owner of the Asus Zenbook, which is amazing: sleek, light, and touch screen. I love it.
Tags: philosophy, pms

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