Ariella Elovic likes to draw pictures of people sitting on the toilet. She draws herself on the toilet too. In fact, most of her artwork has to do with toilets — and the things that go in them — which is gross and, until recently, completely irrelevant. But now she’s been discovered by the feminists. And if you’re looking for a group of people who love to expose women’s most private moments in the name of women’s privacy, it’s feminists. So because, in a series called #MightyMenstruation, Ariella Elovic drew famous women throughout history on their periods, it’s — hooray — is a win for feminism.
The series depicts women like Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, Queen Elizabeth I, Joan of Arc, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg sitting on the toilet. A list of their accomplishments is written next to them followed by the line “and she got her period.” Buzzfeed calls the drawings “beautiful” and quotes Elovic as saying, “I wanted some way to communicate the truth about women — that we all get our periods and it doesn’t make us any less productive, reliable, or respectable.”
The idea that menstruation should somehow be a point of pride for women is not unique to Elovic. The concept of “free bleeding” — abstaining from sanitary products during menstruation — as a way to highlight a woman’s “right to menstruate openly and without shame” has been around since the 1970s. In 2016, Newsweek ran an article highlighting the evils of “period shaming” and called menstruation “one of the most ignored human rights issues around the globe.” And Slate claims that women should combat the idea that periods are “gross” by engaging with “their bodies during menses.”
There’s only one problem: periods are gross. In the same way that pee and poop are gross. There is no more “stigma” around periods than there is around any other bodily function associated with our private parts. But since only women get periods, feminists assume periods must be important somehow. They assume that the fact that women feel private about their periods — that they want to stop the blood from proudly staining every item of clothing they own, and don’t feel comfortable announcing to the world that they’re menstruating — is a sign of some kind of oppression.
Feminism is the movement that promotes both “freeing the nipple” and removing a Waterhouse painting that depicts naked women. They wear hats that make reference to vaginas and chastise men for wolf whistling. They condemn men for commenting on a women’s physical appearances and draw pictures of them sitting on the toilet. Like so much of feminist philosophy, it’s a study in contradictions.
The reason that all these contradictions exist is simple: feminists think women should celebrate the female body, but men should not. They want to be allowed to parade around completely naked without men so much as batting an eye, and bleed all over themselves without men handing them a towel. They think it’s simply “toxicity” that compels men to admire the female form, instead of the natural attraction of the sexes. And, because of this completely ridiculous and unrealistic expectation, they miss a vitally important point: keeping your private parts hidden isn’t oppression, it’s empowerment.
Depicting women sitting on the toilet with their pants around their ankles isn’t a celebration of women, it’s a violation of privacy. Genitals — particularly female genitals — are called “private parts” for good reason. It implies that they are special, not to be viewed casually, and the property only of the person whose body contains them.
Showing a woman sitting on the toilet takes away the woman’s ability to be discerning about who sees her in her private moments, and places it in the hands of someone else. This isn’t a “beautiful” statement, it’s a #MeToo moment! What would Ruth Bader Ginsburg say if she saw this drawing of herself with her backside exposed? (Not to mention all the women Elovic depicts who are dead and can’t defend themselves — can you imagine Queen Elizabeth I feeling “empowered” by these images?! I think not.)
The ability to menstruate doesn’t make you special. Nor does the ability to pee, breathe, blink, or do any number of other involuntary bodily functions. Menstrual blood is private because it comes out of your private parts. Your body parts are private because they belong to you and you decide who can see them. Your womanhood is not a badge of honor, it’s an accident of birth. It’s what you do with your womanhood — your personhood! — that matters. And drawing pictures of women on the toilet doesn’t matter. It only makes things worse.