By SINAZO MAGWEBU
Glenda Poswa’s smile matches the sunshine we’ve been blessed with following a rainy day. As we make our way to her room (cosy and sports shades of pink), she tells me about her Rhodes residence, Dingemans, and how a sign in the bathroom there triggered an important research project.
Poswa is a third year BA student, studying Linguistics, Politics and Psychology. Recently she presented to her Linguistics lecturers and peers a research proposal titled ‘How discourses about menstruation affect women’s perceptions of themselves’. The research focuses on the kinds of words used to refer to menstruation and to menstrual products. She got the idea when she saw a poster in the bathroom that referred to menstrual products as “sanitary” and ‘hygienic’.
“I didn’t understand why something as natural as periods is made to be this dirty thing,” Poswa says.
Although she is comfortable talking about menstruation, she understands that not everyone might be. She recalls an encounter where a cashier was left flabbergasted because she did not ask for a plastic to put in the packet of pads she had bought. “In high school we were told to ask for a ‘biscuit’ instead of pads,” she laughs.
Of her three major subjects, it is not surprising that Poswa plans to pursue a joint Honours year in Linguistics and Politics. If she decides to continue with the research, she says, schools would be the places where she would conduct the study.
“The research would bring awareness to people, especially to girls, that periods are not something to be ashamed of and we can talk about them without using euphemisms.
In the meantime, Poswa believes that we should use what we have to facilitate positive conversations surrounding menstruation. Social media platforms like Instagram come to her mind as one of the tools to use.
As we return to the sunny outdoors, Poswa tells me about a birthday celebration she attended the day before. We part, but her light lingers.
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