The Oscar winning short film, "Period. End of Sentence," explores the stigmas surrounding menstruation in India and how it affects women's daily lives.
Don't deny it, you know that when you're watching the Oscars, there’s a time when everybody gets up to go to the bathroom, grab some more snacks, or even walk the dog. This is the part where awards like Best Short Film (Animated and Live Action), Sound (Editing and Mixing), and Documentary (Feature and Short) are presented. It's not that they're bad or anything, but most people have no idea what they are or they don’t really care about them.
However, these productions are actually some of the most interesting in the whole show, with stories that tackle serious topics from all around the world. For instance, there's Period. End of Sentence, one of the documentaries nominated by the Academy this year. It's a thought-provoking and groundbreaking film about the many taboos and stigmas surrounding menstruation in India (and I’d dare say the world).
In order to explore the subject of menstruation and how women experience it in India, the series takes two paths: the first one being the oppressive ways in which Indian society understands menstruation, while the second one focuses on the story of Arunachalam Murugananthan, best known as the “Pad Man.”
After seeing his wife using dirty clothes instead of pads because the latter were too expensive, Murungananthan set out to create more affordable sanitary towels. Along the way, he discovered that women were too shy or afraid to speak openly about their periods. This discovery convinced him to carry out an experiment in order to put an end to these stigmas. And so, he became Pad Man and created a fake uterus to better understand how women experience their periods and why something so natural was still such a big deal.
In this short documentary, which lasts roughly 25 minutes, we get to see the underground female revolution going on in a small factory in New Dehli, where women learn how to make pads in a country where 62% of women still use reusable pads mainly for economic reasons.
Though the documentary focuses on periods, it reveals some really shocking truths about society in India, which as I said before, also reflects a global reality of inequality. Throughout the short, we can see all sorts of stories about women being oppressed by the patriarchy, like, for example, the woman who wanted to become a police officer to avoid being forced into an arranged marriage and to have the economic means to do what she wants without having to obey her family’s rules.
The subject of menstruation is related to women's dreams and aspirations mainly because it's related to the limitations imposed on women and how they're shamed for a variety of things. In India, as well as in other parts of the world, menstruation is still seen as a burden women deserve to carry, and even as a disgusting divine punishment on our gender. The fact that menstruation-related products are a luxury in India sheds light on why it’s so hard to shatter stigmas and taboos, and why projects like the Pad Man’s are so needed across the world.
The documentary, which will likely take the Oscar home, is a story that needs to be shared and watched by everyone. Let’s just hope it has the visibility it deserves and that it encourages women to stop being ashamed of their bodies, and the world to understand that periods aren't anything to be disgusted by.
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