With the global takeover of The Hunger Games in book and in film this year, it’s obviously exciting to see such a great female protagonist in popular culture and in the lives of young girl readers. This summer, tough ladies in general are taking the spotlight as Snow White and the Huntsman and Brave hit theaters shortly, but with the increase of the “anything you can do I can do better” sentiment of our strong women-fronted flicks, there is one topic that seems to still be avoided, if not overlooked altogether. Maybe it’s in an effort to not lose the male audience, maybe an accidental aversion, but where in the world is Katniss Everdeen’s period?
Forgive me if this observation comes across as crude, but being a gal and having had Mother Nature make an unwanted appearance at camping trips and music festivals, it was an initial lady-thought while reading the book. That poor girl! She has to be in the arena for lord knows how long, climbing trees, surviving severe heat and cold, running from kids her own age who want to kill her, having to pretend she’s in love with a boy she’s still on the fence about! Wouldn’t that just be the dickens if she also started? You wanna see real bloodshed? Put a single tampon in the Cornucopia amongst a legion of menstruating teen girls. Maybe that was Clove’s deal the whole time.
Granted, our characters were only actually in the Games for 15 days, so there’s the 50% chance that our Katniss wouldn’t even have her special visit, but, still, what if she did? It opens the doors to the much bigger issue, which is the stigma of menstruation in general.
I’ve been taught my whole life to be discreet about my period, and never, under any circumstances to mention it to the men of the house. Perhaps some of you grew up under different conditions, but in our household, just like most times in the mass media, it was taboo. Commercials for pads even use a different color for demonstrations so as not to gross out viewers. My father once even went as far as to say that tampons shouldn’t be advertised on television. Seriously? Don’t even get me started on that creepy, toothy smile on the Cialis guy. If I have to just be subjected to the erectile dysfunctions of America’s middle-aged man, you can most certainly stomach images of a gleefully jumping woman holding a box of her ladycorks. Suffice it to say, we’re meant to act like we don’t go a week with our baby-growing station under repairs so as to keep it well-functioning and fertile and therefore an essential part of the continued growth of our species. We ignore it because its untidy and therefore unladylike, no matter that it basically represents the hope for our existence.
Katniss is basically a symbol of the growth of her people, she’s keeping them alive with actions that are as heroic as they are nurturing. In the three-year duration we see her and this post-apocalyptic world low on its basic needs for survival, her very trait of womanhood is never mentioned. Not even a “man, Peeta, I sure am glad we found this cave to hide in because these cramps are winning! Soup!” Preach, girl.
Sure, an argument could be that the constant malnutrition would cause infertility, but we know that the people of District 12 are capable of reproducing. Citizens may die of starvation, but they were able to be conceived in the first place.
Suzanne Collins is so descriptive and visual with the way she portrays the murder and gore in the series. Viewers watch live as the prettiest girl dies a bloated tracker jacker funbag and boys have their heads crushed into gooey messes. We actually see someone kill an adorable 11-year-old. I don’t know what you guys do in your free time, but the period stuff is a way more relatable and logical occurrence in said situation than shooting arrows through teen boys. I know that The Hunger Games aren’t meant to be relatable in that aspect (hey girls, wanna learn how to outrun fire?) but they are in the sense that Katniss is a role model for young readers. If anything, I’d like to know what someone as resourceful as she would do for a homemade tampon. Leaves? Tree bark? Woven spider webs? Teach me, Katniss! I need it for my Armageddon box! Any excuse that touching upon the topic of a young girl’s cycle would be the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard since a restaurant patron asked for calorie-free water. C’mon, Collins!
The Hunger Games is no way near the only culprit of ghost periods, however. From Gilligan’s Island to Lost, characters stranded on desert islands are also too preoccupied with good ole fashioned food and shelter to worry about what’s going on with the ladies. Maybe they built their own separate hut for those times, who knows, but if you go for the scenario where characters are stripped of necessities and fight for survival, let’s at least add that sliver of realism. Gosh, it’s the reality of half of our population, so let’s stop acting like it doesn’t exist because I’m crampy and sick of it and thinking of all that Capitol food.