Trials and Tribulations of Cupping

A truthful account of the first time I used a cup.

“Don’t panic,” I said to myself. “There’s nothing to panic about.” It was just a 6 cm silicone cup trapped all up in my lady parts. I was lucky this had been a trial run.

I had decided to try a menstrual cup after ranting (once again) about Tampon tax. The cup was appealing for many reasons; cheap, reusable, environmentally friendly and easily transported. It was perfect for me. I spent about 10 minutes on Amazon, found an economic generic model named after a Greek goddess and decided to give it a whirl.

What could go wrong?

Mistake #1 Lazy research

I thought any brand would do. I thought they were all the same and after a few hours practice I would be a pro. What I wasn’t counting on was my over zealous high positioning and short fingers leaving me with a foreign object trapped inside me.

I think it’s important to mention to any women reading this: you can’t lose a menstrual cup inside yourself. Your cervix isn’t a vacuum that hoovers up foreign objects. A fact I soothingly repeated to myself during my panic.

Mistake #2 Over-confidence

The easy to use instructions you receive with your cups seem a little nonchalant in retrospect. I got my fold right and whacked it up there without considering how I was going to get it out. What ensued was the gynaecological equivalent of trying to find the end of a roll of sellotape.

Also, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a one finger job. There was a level of intimacy that left me feeling like I owed myself a steak dinner and two bottles of red. I may actually be a qualified gynaecologist now.

Mistake #3 Thinking I was in charge

The vagina is in charge. People who use pussy as a put down clearly haven’t tried to wrestle a cup away from its vice like grip. It had claimed the cup for it’s own and was not going to give it up without a fight.

Happy Endings

Rather than run crying to my nearest Family Planning clinic, I made a cup of tea, watched some Youtube videos, did some Kegel exercises and tried again. The cup had shifted, I was able to get a better grip on it and I sit here typing, cup free and knowing a lot more about my cervix.

The experience has not put me off in the least. I think it’s great women are getting to know their bodies better. And I stand by my choice to use the cup.

I’ve done my research properly this time and found a cup that’s right for me. I’m sure with some practice I’ll be a pro in no time.

What’s the deal with the cup?

Curious about cupping? Let this idiot be your guide.

I‘ve long been outspoken on periods and how they are viewed and treated within society. I’m baffled by the fact we have to pay for sanitary products when it’s part of our biology. To add insult to injury these products are then taxed as a luxury. If this was happening to men, there’d be a riot. To top it off, sanitary products contribute to the burgeoning quantity of waste loading the world’s landfills. This is why I chose to go the way of the cup.

Here’s a bit of information you might find helpful if you’re planning on giving it a go.

All shapes and colours

Surprisingly, there are many different kinds of cup, in different colours and different shapes. The most well known brands are the Diva Cup or if you’re UK based, like I am, Mooncup. I use a Lunette because it was an affordable price, suited my flow and has a long stem which makes it easier for me to position and remove. It’s worth doing some investigating before you make a purchase. I speak from experience. Most companies will offer you a 60 day money back guarantee. So if the cup you choose is not for you, try again with another.

Find your fold

To insert your  in order to do this you need to fold your cup. I recommend watching a few Youtube videos before going in there. The U fold pictured below is the most common. I prefer to use a narrower fold. Pick the fold that’s comfortable and suits your shape. You may also want to wet the rim or use some lube to make insertion easier. I’m going to be honest. You’re about to get real up close and personal with your vagina. The kind of intimacy you may have only known after a bottle of wine and a fancy meal. It’s an educational experience.

Positioning

This is the tricky bit that makes you feel a bit like an amateur gynaecologist. Don’t give up! It can be frustrating, but if you’ve endured someone else fumbling down there, you owe it to yourself to persevere.

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Courtesy of LENAcup

The cup should be fully open and positioned beneath the cervix. If it doesn’t open it can move and will leak. The advice is to rotate it, but this is easier said than done. What I found was easier was to run my finger around the outside of the cup a few times, do a few squats and check again. Give the stem a pull when you think it’s opened. If it’s offering some resistance it means it’s open and the suction is working. If it doesn’t, try again.

Comfort

A good way of checking that it’s correctly positioned is comfort: like a tampon, you shouldn’t feel it. So if the stem is digging into you or you feel uncomfortable, remove it and try again. I found practicing when I wasn’t on helped me feel more confident.

Cleaning

Wash your hands before inserting. Pour the contents down the toilet. If you’re at home rinse your cup out in the sink with warm soapy water. You can buy special wipes if you plan to remove it when you’re on the go. Once it’s clean you can reinsert it. At the end of your cycle, sterilise the cup with boiling water. I don’t bother with all the wipes and washes, but they’re available if you prefer them. I like to use my little Meeno pot rather than crossing boundaries and sterilising my cup in the communal saucepan. But that’s just me.

I’m still getting used to mine and researching. If you’ve got questions or advice feel free to comment!

It’s Everyone’s Problem

 

I’m a people person. Everyone knows this. There’s nothing that warms my heart more than meeting a kindred spirit.  There’s something reassuring about finding another person whom you have something in common with. All it takes are two little words of solidarity to make a large and anonymous world less lonely: Me too.

But when that common ground is a collective experience of harassment and abuse we all need to pay attention. Men and women. This isn’t a random phenomenon like the sky turning yellow. This is an indicator of the extent of harassment, aggression and assault within our society. And it needs to change.

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We’re no longer living in an age where a man can drag his chosen woman back to the cave. But it’s an age where a guy can show you his dick, make you feel unsafe on your journey home and violate your personal space with little or no fear of retribution.

Harvey Weinstein’s outing as a sexual predator has reignited a polemical outpouring in the media on an age old issue. But whether this will lead to any real change in male attitudes and society’s treatment of women is yet to be seen. Let’s not forget that only a year ago the pussy grabbing President of the USA  was caught on camera bragging about his ‘conquests’. That bombshell didn’t stop him getting elected. What was also troubling was it didn’t stop women from voting for him.

Who’s responsible?

It angers me that a discussion on harassment and assault is inevitably dragged back to the role the victims have to play in the situation. Let’s be clear, there’s one problem here and that’s the predatory males victimising and manipulating women. However, every time something like this comes out women are asked to reassess what it is we’re doing that’s driving the boys crazy.

Donna Karan’s mindless rhetoric in the wake of the Weinstein allegations raised more than an eyebrow. Was a woman whose fortune had been made selling sexy clothes and perfume to women really implying that women were asking for it? Ok, she took it back. She was jet lagged. Some of her best friends are women. We get it. But why does this argument always come back to how women act?

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Mayim Bialik’s op-ed in The New York Times is also problematic. A well educated actress and feminist, familiar with Hollywood, Bialik’s editorial reads like the cautionary tale of how awkward looks and demure dress sense steered her safe of sexual predators. Though she takes care not to do a Donna, and tell women they’re dressing too sexually, I wonder why she feels the need to highlight her opinion (after all it’s only an opinion) that her own looks had spared her the horrors of harassment. I always thought she was pretty.

Bialik’s insinuation that the pretty ones are the one’s getting harassed and assaulted is reductive. It’s why the Me Too status started. To show this a problem that happens to women. Period. Bialik’s focus on women building their esteem away from their appearance overlooks the way girls are sexualised by strange men every day. Whether they want to be or not. And in doing so it implies it’s the job of women to control men’s behaviour.

I won’t disagree that there is more to a woman than her looks. Indeed, a woman’s worth doesn’t lie in her push up bra and contour kit. But I don’t understand how a sexual predator’s actions have brought us to an after school special on female self esteem and worth. There is something patronising about the idea that a plainer gal, who models herself on Eleanor Roosevelt, would never be subjected to such misfortunes. It’s simply untrue.

People need to stop thinking this is the curse of the beautiful or provocative. This is a problem endemic to our society.  This doesn’t just happen to certain women. And it’s not a woman’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem and staying silent on the matter, ignoring it or trying to cover it up won’t get rid of it. The onus to change things isn’t only on women, it’s on men too.

#MeToo #HimThough #HowIWillChange

Adult Fun

Clubs are playgrounds for adults? No, PLAYGROUNDS are playgrounds for adults.

The most fun I’ve had in ages was an alcohol free romp in a children’s playground. I love this kind of fun. It’s free.

Why am I not constantly running around screaming loudly whilst being chased by my adult friends? Maybe because embracing your inner child in this way, is a sure fire way to elicit their concerns.

I have started skipping again, it’s healthy and great fun. Why should kids have the monopoly on skipping? I have taken to skipping when there is a lull in Skype conversations with the fella, just to mix things up. I am trying to convince him to buy a yoyo so we can virtually play together. I mean we’ve known each other since we were 16, that’s some kind of green flag to be able to bounce up and down on beds together and have PG fun right?

It’s a shame that maintaining contact with your inner child in this way is something that is generally an indicator of waning mental health. A warning sign that you are some kind of sexual predator. After all, no self respecting or upstanding adult with no kids would own a bouncy castle unless they were a child who had wished to be big and woken up to find they were an adult. Or Michael Jackson.

I often think that’s where MJ went wrong: his insistence that his playmates be thirty years younger than him. Had he called me to Never Never Land, we could have torn that shit up; I’m talking skipping, super soakers, sack race, roller coasters, candy floss. Sadly he will never know what we could have had.

Unfortunately for me, these situations would never take place in society outside a Tom Hanks movie. If they did they’d be met with a string of character damaging lawsuits and headshaking from all sides.

These children games still exist for adults, the swings, the pogo sticks, the running; only now they are more dating metaphors or have been turned into sex toys, so we can all relive the joy of being a child with the adult bonus of bouncing up and down on each other’s private parts with the help of swings and a jump rope.

Actually it is quite unnerving that something like a swing can be turned into a sex contraption, there is something Brave New World about the parallel. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong and my love of swings was in fact erotic play. In which case, the dream is alive people.

If only there was a place adults could go for fun that wasn’t a brothel or a bar. On many a sunny afternoon, whilst hogging a swing from a sour faced child, I have looked to the skies and pictured a playground, just like a child’s, only capable of sustaining heavier body weight, with more rubber flooring for the adult who likes to drink and where being childless and wanting to join in on the fun didn’t put you on a sex offenders list.

There’s still hope someone may read this and build this place. Until then I’ll be lurking around people’s garden sets, trying to get my fine ass down a kiddy slide.

Why can’t we be friends?

Not all relationships should turn into friendships

A few years ago I received a Youtube video of War’s ‘Why Can’t We be Friends’ with the accompanying wit:

C’mon, let’s be friends (insert winky face).

The message had been sent by an Ex who I had deleted off social media. It actually made me LOL. Not because it was cute, but because the guy who sent me the message knew exactly why we couldn’t be friends.

I don’t really stay in touch with any of my Exes. I tried when I was younger, but the reality is you break up for a reason, and you need to cut that cord.

Some people can’t though. Maybe they think that this person will magically transform. Or maybe they need something to show for the time they invested.

Perhaps that’s why the same Ex expected to just strike up a conversation with me on my Instagram today.

It’s been over a decade and yet here he is, still trying to be friends. Even though I had closed the door. Locked it. Walled it up. I changed numbers, blocked him, cut contact with his friends and yet here he was. Again.

This guy is the post-break up Wile E. Coyote. It’s a pity that an anvil hasn’t been dropped on his head. Repeatedly.

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There’s persistent and then there’s not being able to take no for an answer.Source: Giphy

There will be some deluded Notebook fanatic that will take this persistence for romance. Let me correct you: a guy who can’t take no for an answer after 10 years, or works tirelessly to convince you to change your mind isn’t being romantic.

He has no boundaries.

Showing up blind drunk, throwing stones at a girl’s window and crying, is not normal. Nor is it a sign of sensitivity. It’s a warning sign that says: RUN. RUN FAST! (meep meep.)

Through his sobs he claimed that the only thing he ever did wrong was love me.

Kicking me in the head, dragging me out of a club by my hair and punching me in the face are also fine examples of things he did wrong.

But he’s crying and pursuing me so he must be genuine right?

I will never understand women who think men who cry are sensitive. Maybe the arsehole should be crying.

I’m baffled by people who fall for the bursting into tears routine. But maybe my coldness comes from having had a bottle thrown at me by a guy who swiftly burst into tears over how I made him do these things to me.

There’s something sinister about people like him, who genuinely believe they did nothing wrong. He really believes we could be friends.

Maybe someone did drop an anvil on his head after all.

Photography source: freestocks.org

Numbers game

Women who sleep with my boyfriend, then have the cheek to comment on my sexual history will be verbally decimated.

There is nothing that will get a woman more angry than finding out she’s being cheated on.

Oh wait, how about his side chick calling her promiscuous.

“He thought that because you’ve slept with so many more people than him that you wouldn’t be happy with him. He was always worried.”

Yeah, that happened.

A married ‘Christian’ woman who had been looking for Jesus in my ex’s boxers, was using my sexual history to justify  her arseholery.

I should have pointed out the irony, but why confuse her further with fancy words?

I’d love to say it was the first time my sexual activity has been commented on. But, as an asian woman I am used to people commenting on my dating life. Jokes have been made about my revolving door dating system. My parents stopped bothering asking if I will settle down. And I have learned to shrug off the questions fishing for confirmation of how many people I have slept with.

Not enough I say.

I am used to friends taking the piss about my dating life. It’s part and parcel of sharing it so openly on social media. It’s funny. I have no problems with it. So why should anyone else?

But, oh they do. And rather than accept that it’s their issue, their insecurity and their choices, they want to make it my issue, my insecurity and about my choices. All of a sudden it’s all about numbers.

The more open minded people I meet seem to have no problem with how many people I have slept with. They also tend to have slept with significantly more people than I have. So why would they care?

As long as you’re the lower number you’re fine.

Funnily enough, I have seen the same nonchalance disappear when it’s turned out I’ve slept with more people than they have. Then they spit out their Starbucks, awkwardly mumble something about doing what you want with your body, before quickly leaving.

Probably to call a group of women together for an orgy to get their numbers up.

It’s a strange phenomena. It doesn’t make me regret a thing. Just taught me to never share numbers, or waste too much time on people who seem obsessed with mine. The issue is clearly their own.

Nothing good comes from sharing numbers.

Unless they’re phone numbers for hot guys you’re going to unashamedly bang.

A Suitable Boy

I give up. Let someone else pick the next dysfunctional man I date.  Just don’t let that someone be my parents.

After a conversation on the dire state of my love life, my friend Jess suggested letting my friends introduce me to nice single men they knew.

Now, coming from an Indian family I am no stranger to the idea of relationship introductions. My Dad showed me a picture of my future husband when I was 11.

The image of a fat boy ramming an ice-cream into his mouth, as if it was the cure for ugly, made me burst into tears. As it turned out, he wasn’t my betrothed, but some random child who had wandered into the shot.

The arranged marriage ‘gag’ had been born. It would plague me all the way to adulthood.

Initially, there were some golden opportunities for a laugh. Like when my Dad signed me up to Shaadibride.com, an Indian dating website. We would sift through the applicants, who neither cared that I was an agnostic, nor that I drank and smoked.

“They’re desperate!” My dad would cry, laughing. Cheers, Dad.

But the fun would always be short lived. My dad’s thinly veiled desire to see me married to a nice, Indian boy always came out when an eligible candidate appeared. In this case it was a doctor, offering to fly me out to Frankfurt for a date. Then all I’d hear was:

“Why do you hate your people? Give him a chance!”

The doctors always made him crack.

3ffd8bae2635f73c80d91544aab0782d9fab3aefc2d45f71e9c239955e73d98dThings haven’t changed. Only last month my Dad was waxing lyrical about the neighbourhood watch officer who had come to give him property stickers. Before him, it was the Olympian flautist he’d met at a wedding back home (playing fast and loose with the word Olympian there, Dad).

Occasionally, my mum will take over and dish out dating advice straight from the 30s.

No, I can’t keep quiet until the wedding day, mum. I don’t want to be a secretary and try to marry my boss. I will not learn to ‘talk nicely’ with ‘boys’. Thanks anyway.

They’re more bothered by me being single than I am.

I can only imagine that the sound of my biological clock ticking away like The Tell-tale Heart, is driving them to madness.

This is probably why I avoid any kind of spinstervention. Historically, they have ended in disappointment. My dad remains optimistic though.  He still insists I don’t stand directly in front of the microwave in case I fry my eggs.

Hope never dies.

 

 

 

The Menstruation Myth

Period, period, period, period, period. Are you comfortable with it yet?

When I was 17 years old I tried to send my brother to the local pharmacy because I needed tampons. Before he could step out of the door I could hear a mumbled conversation and then a resounding WHAT, before he was loudly told to get upstairs and my father stormed into the living room to give me a piece of his mind.

 Little had I known that my insensitive request had nearly turned my brother gay, or worse, transgender.

I was astounded by the ignorance flowing out of the mouth of someone I respected. A well educated, well read individual, and one who had no problem discussing fashion and makeup with me, hardly the manliest of conversations.

The line was drawn at periods.

The attitude towards periods he had experienced growing up was one where they were treated as a curse, a sign of uncleanliness, a burden women had to endure as discreetly as possible without tainting any innocent men with it. In the later years we managed to educate my father away from the fears borne from menstrual ignorance; he no longer handles a box of tampons at arms length, nor washes his hands compulsively afterwards.

My mum remains quite sheltered on the topic, like many Indian women of her generation. It was something whispered behind closed doors. Uttering it too loudly may cause your uterus to explode. She was taught that it was something to be ashamed of, something women suffered.

Maybe it was a good thing that she wasn’t around to give me the talk. I had to rely on my sister and PSHE for my information. My dad’s only recognition of the event was adding sanitary towels to the shopping list and then promptly reminding me I had to help him buy them, else he be considered a pervert by the rest of London. By the time she came home, my dad was now privy to my cycle, and I was using tampons.

Revelations that garnered an “Oh lord, the shame!” and an afternoon of praying.

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“They attract bears”

The ignorance surrounding the menstrual cycle used to really anger me as a young woman. Periods make women ‘unclean’ in my culture. You are not meant to enter a holy place when menstruating, nor are you meant to touch a man about to pray, or give offerings to god, and a whole other list of things you can’t do because you are tainted by your own biology. The most embarrassing part when I was a young teen, was you would be asked whether you had your period. I could understand this from a doctor, but not when all I wanted to do was step into a building. My mother would discreetly inquire if I had my period and if I did I didn’t have to go to temple, or religious events, or partake in religious ceremonies.

Needless to say, I was always on my period during such occasions.

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Yeah, he’s not convinced

For some of the men I dated ‘that time of the month’ was a punchline and an inconvenience. Periods meant sex was now a hassle. Ignorant fears of fathering a brain damaged baby, or seeing tampax in the bathroom were too much for a minority. In fairness these comments were made by the Bricks of this world who believe periods opened them up to bear attacks.

Most men my age aren’t that ignorant.

But that isn’t to say they are well informed, or that they want to be. An ex once asked me how I was able to be in the swimming pool of our local gym if I was on my period. Confused, I replied tampons. He continued to look at me awaiting an explanation. Why would he know the difference between a sanitary towel or a tampon? Why would he care? The Bodyform woman’s roar was obviously a signal to put the kettle on for him. What he could do though was wipe the terrified look off his face and stop scanning the water for Sharks.

A uniquely female experience doesn’t have be seen as a curse, or unclean, or a negative.

 Man up. It’s just a little blood.

 

Biological Duty

Having a womb isn’t a good enough reason to have kids

I once dated a guy who informed me it was my biological duty to have children.

Yes. He said that.

Think of my uterus, if you would, as a bread maker that came with my ‘kitchen’.

The kitchen is great, but wouldn’t it be more of a kitchen if there was a rising heap of dough in that breadmaker? Wouldn’t that bread make me happier in the long run?

I mean you can’t have a breadmaker and not use it.

How am I still meeting people in this century who have this take on females and procreation?

I was never someone whose womb wrenched when she held a child, nor have I longed to feel life grow inside me. I’ve always been happy to hand a baby back, and get a burrito.

I’ve had the occasional flash panic, and stood in front of the freezer section in Sainsbury’s, frantically texting friends about embryo storage, whilst cooling my ovaries. But it was no bigger a panic than the undercut/no undercut dilemma of 2014.

I love the little humans.

Not because I have a uterus, but because I find them amazing. The incessant questioning, stubbornness, creativity and boundless energy is something I’m on board with.

We get on well.

As a result, I’m often told to have some of my own. Funny, because I’m also told I’m great with pets, but that ‘A puppy is for life, not just for Christmas’ campaign really did a job on folks. That’s something I should consider carefully.

I’m at that age where all my friends have had, or are having children. Some as I type. I am often told there is nothing like the joy of motherhood. That it’s the best thing I’ll ever do.

I think a more realistic description is that motherhood is a completely different kind of experience from those I have had to date. No one is making it look like ‘the best thing’ when they are wrestling a pound of ‘pick n mix’ out of a screaming child’s hand, handling a flooded bathroom, or being bitten.

My trip to Vegas measures up better.

That being said, the love my friends have for their children is contagious. Their relationships are rewarding. The way their children love them is moving. Good people are being raised in the world and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

But from a distance.

For me.

For now.

 

D-sensitised

I think I am 95% desensitised to penis.

When I was younger and I used to worry that my enjoyment of uber violent films meant that I could find myself in a Die Hard style scenario, and would simply sellotape a pen knife to my back and throw myself into the mix without batting an eyelid.

It was a theory that was somewhat proven when I got held up at gunpoint a few years back.

I refused to give the gunman my bag without some kind of negotiation. My companions had either cleverly shoved their mobile phones into their knickers, or peremptorily handed over their bags, while I rued the day I decided to wear a dress and no underwear, whilst clutching onto my shopping.

The gunman told me not to be an idiot. But why change the habit of a lifetime?

“Because he could have shot you.” The police officer sternly informed me, surprisingly unimpressed by the fact I managed to save my purchases.

I was pretty sure the gun was fake. I’d seen plenty of guns. On screen. The officer kindly unholstered his gun and asked me if it had looked like that. Hmm, his looked fake too.

Whoops.

Penis has become guns for me.

And it’s all thanks to online flashers.

The threat of the 80s flasher, accessorised in a  filthy mac, bumbling his way towards you, then whipping open his coat and waggling his willy at you, has now been brought into the digital age.

The sexual ambush that I have been subjected to on dating apps though amusing, is also quite disturbing. When did it become acceptable to send someone an unsolicited picture of your genitals? Or even worse, a video of you vigorously abusing said genitals?

The idea that you have ‘earned’ viewing rights to the horniness you unwittingly inspired is not as flattering as the sender thinks it is.

If someone tried to flash you in public it would be considered indecent to most.  But social media functions like a blanket of anonymity  for flashers to disappear into once someone hits report, block and delete.

There are no real consequences, other than the reduced chances of offenders ever getting to communicate with that person beyond a screen.

I, for one, don’t want to be sent another surreptitious picture of a penis in an “Oh my gosh you’ll never guess what my dick did….’ fashion again.

If I ever see one in real life again, I’m only going to think it’s fake.