So I’m in Food Lion in Shepherdstown this morning buying milk, bread, and a package of maxi-pads when the girl at the register says to me, “You’re a real man!”
Well, that sure was nice of her to say. She went on to tell me that she’s tried to convince her boyfriend to pick up pads (as all the cool ladies call them) for her before, but he has always refused. Fellas, why are we so reluctant to do this particular favor for the chicks? Before I paid this morning, when I was walking up and down the aisles with a bag of Always in my basket, I felt a little sheepish about it myself. But where does this feeling come from? What are we embarrassed about?
Ashley thinks it derives from a natural desire in males to pretend that menstruation doesn’t exist. She might have a point. A woman’s period wasn’t referred to on American television until an episode of Roseanne, for Christ’s sake. We men are so grossed-out by the prospect of performing oral sex on a menstruating woman that we invented a name for it reminiscent of something earned by military combat pilots: earning one’s red wings.
Since this morning, I’ve been pondering what a silly thing it is for men to be uncomfortable about buying maxi-pads for their wives or girlfriends (or sisters or mothers, for that matter). Think about it: you’re a guy, an anatomical male. You buy a pack of tampons or maxis, an item for which you have no use whatsoever. The obvious conclusion for a stranger to draw upon witnessing this purchase is that you are a wonderful and selfless person doing something nice for someone else. Should we be embarrassed about that?
What other conclusion could someone possibly draw? That you are a pre-op female transsexual, buying the pads for yourself? “Yeah, I got the double mastectomy, and I’ve been taking the hormones, but I’ve still got this darn vagina!”
Most guys, when asked, refuse on the grounds that it makes more sense for the woman to buy the pads herself. But women have far more reason to be embarrassed about making this particular purchase than we do. They’re the ones with bloody goo oozing out of their cooches. Is that something you would relish announcing to a complete stranger in a checkout line? It’s humiliating enough buying Imodium.