How do the hormonal needs of women and people with cycles fit into our society?
Well, that’s kind of the issue: they don’t. The world is largely designed by and for cisgender* men. This is something that you may simply not even think about, because it’s always been this way.
Here are just a few ways that illustrate the male-dominated design of our world:
Society operates based on a 24-hour day, which matches the male hormone cycle. Male hormones peak in the morning and decrease throughout the day, which conveniently aligns with our day-to-day schedules. The female cycle, however, is 28 days. This means that hormones shift over the course of the month, resulting in varying energy levels and moods that are not the same from day to day or week to week. This means that fitting into the rigid expectations of a daily routine can be difficult.
Women experience pain differently than men,yet male subjects are almost exclusively utilized to develop pain medications. But who is more likely to have chronic pain? Women.
Women are 17% more likely to die from a car crash than men, and are 47% more likely to be seriously injured. Why? Because car crash tests are done with a “reference” dummy based on an “average” man.
Cities are rarely designed with the needs of women and other marginalized groups in mind, including missing sidewalks, poor lighting at nighttime, and short pedestrian crossing signals. All of these disadvantage anyone with a physical impairment, pushing a stroller, or seeking to feel safe.
The gender pay gap also exposes the stark reality of male-dominated design. In the US, women are paid 82 cents to every dollar earned by men. This gap widens even further for women who experience multiple forms of discrimination, such as women of color, women with disabilities, and women who have immigrated, as well as trans women and men, and people who do not identify with the gender binary.
So, What Do We Do About It?
There are endless ways for you to exist and take up space, including embracing the cyclical nature of female hormones, prioritizing your health and needs, and taking on leadership roles (no matter how big or small!) that work toward equality. An often overlooked but extremely simple and powerful way is to start asking for what you need without embarrassment or shame. For example: “I’m not making plans next week; I’ll be on my period, and I like to use that time to rest and reflect on the coming month.” Speaking out about your experience helps destigmatize periods, pregnancy loss, fertility issues, parenthood, caretaking, and so much more.
With all of this in mind, our goal is to reach as many people as possible with education around hormonal balance and reproductive health, including how to align your life with your cycle and become an advocate for your health. This education is key to inspire women and people with cycles to take up space, harness their power, and achieve their optimal health.
And Where Will We End Up?
Women and people with cycles who are in tune with their bodies and know how to find a sense of balance can be fully present, and make valuable contributions that help to impact and reshape our society. Ultimately, this leads to the design of spaces that are more caring, empathetic, and inclusive of everyone’s needs.
An Important Note About Feminism:
Our vision is rooted in feminism, but we acknowledge the paramount importance of intersectionality. There is no one universal definition of what it’s like to be a woman, as there is no one correct way to exist as a woman. We believe in intersectional feminism that does not center the experiences of white, straight, able-bodied, cisgender* women, and we acknowledge the harmful practices that can arise in the feminist space. We do not seek to delegitimize any experiences related to gender identity or gender expression. We also recognize that many people who have “female” reproductive health needs do not identify as women, meaning they are left behind by the feminist movement.
While feminism fights against gender inequality, intersectional feminism makes the important connection between overlapping forms of oppression, and recognizes why these issues cannot be separated out as “non-feminist” issues. So, what else overlaps with and amplifies gender inequality? Race, age, socioeconomic status, physical or mental ability, class, gender or sexual identity, religion, and ethnicity, to name a few. Acknowledging overlapping forms of discrimination allows all women and people with cycles to benefit from advances achieved through the movement toward gender equality, and moves away from a one-size-fits-all (but actually really only some) approach. It’s about inclusivity, not erasure.
*A term used to describe a person whose gender identity matches their assigned sex at birth.