Women have periods. And this was the most relatable moment of the Olympics, hands down!
When Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui of Team China addressed her loss in the 4 x 100 relay medley, she did something really important for women everywhere.
She talked about her period.
Her team came in fourth, and Fu Yuanhui did not perform to the level she had hoped at this once in a lifetime event. Talking to reporters about her swim, she said: “I feel I didn’t swim well today. I let my teammates down. Because my period came yesterday, I’m feeling a bit weak, but this is not an excuse.”
Predictably, Fu Yuanhui's quote about her period left some people aghast. Periods tend to do that to people, leave them clutching their pearls in disgust. There is an outdated school of thought that swimming while you have your period is unsanitary.
You know what else is unsanitary? Basically just being a human being with a butt hole and a pee hole and the tendency to drool.
That's why pools are chlorinated: Because we are all disgusting gushing monsters.
Being a professional athlete is not easy. Being a professional athlete who is also a woman is damn near impossible. They should give out medals for that alone.
During these Olympics the perfidious nature of sexism at the games has been very much on display. When Hungarian swimmer Tinka Hosszu crushed the world record in the 400-meter individual medley, news outlets the world over attributed that win to her husband.
Swimmer Katie Ledecky set a world record, whereas Phelps earned himself a silver medal and this was what the headline looked like:
In speaking frankly about her menstrual cycle, Fu Yuanhui was doing something revolutionary. She was demystifying and de-stigmatizing menstruation. If a male swimmer has a poor performance, he might chalk it up to fatigue or an old injury rearing its head. No one shames him for over-sharing, if anything he is celebrating for providing this hidden insight.
When you have your period there are very real physical symptoms. There is fatigue, bloating, and often intense pain, just to name a few things off the top of my head that might make it difficult for even a professional athlete to perform to a standard they deem to be acceptable on the world stage.
We need more athletes like Fu to talk about their periods. There are days when I'm on the rag when the idea of moving from my bed to the TV room seems nigh on impossible. The fact that she competed with the best of the best and still placed rather high in the ranks is a testimony to her strength, not her weakness.
Biologically, male and female bodies are designed to do a few things differently from each other. Men’s bodies are celebrated for being strong, while women’s bodies are often celebrated for being beautiful or even weak. But the fact is, women’s bodies are just as strong as men’s, often in entirely different ways. These differences shouldn’t be cloaked in mystery, but rather just accepted as part of what makes the diversity of bodies great.
The fact that people are still shocked at a female athlete talking about her period and its affect on her performance means that we are in no way shape or form ready to live in a world where women don't have to do that anymore.