by Torey Donato
When a young girl menstruates for the first time, much fear and insecurity can go into this experience. Confused about the functions of her body, the first bloodstain can be frightening for the first time. Our culture has made us believe that we must “silence” our menstruation and be shameful. Through menstruation product advertisements, one can see the reoccurring theme that our menstruation cycle is unimportant and a hassle and Mother Nature has placed a “cursed” upon us. Our language changes when we speak about menstruation through words, for example, “my days” or “Aunt Rose.” In “Gender and the Problem of Prehistory,” Ruether suggests that “the only way we can, as human, integrate ourselves into a life-sustaining relationship to nature, is for both of us, males as much as females, to see ourselves as equally rooted in the cycles of life and death, and equally responsible for creating ways of living sustainable together in that relationship (Merchant 36).” While many believe in the significance of the cycle of life and death, many do not value the menstruation cycle. In order to connect with nature, one must not only be “equally rooted in the cycles of life and death,” but also the process of learning the importance of the “cycle of menstruation.” However, there are many groups and communities that celebrate a young girl menstruating for the first time. The Kinaalda celebration performed by the Apache Native American tribe, celebrates these “Coming of Age” ceremonies. The ceremony signifies her transformation from a child into a woman (Kinaalda: A Navajo Rite of Passage). “The ceremony is centered around the Navajo myth of Changing Woman, the first woman on Earth who was able to bear children. The legend of Changing Woman purports that the ceremony gave her the ability to have children. Because of this, all Navajo girls must undergo the ritual so that they will grow into strong women who can also bear children” (Kinaalda: Navajo Rite of Passage). The Kinaalda celebration believes that cycle of menstruation is equally important as the cycle of life and death, and therefore the entire community joins in celebration.
One particular woman, Hemitra Crecraft started “Coming of Age” ceremonies for women and girls in her own community in 1994 and created a website on “How to start your own Coming of Age ceremonies” in your own community www.womanwisdom.com). She still continues to have these ceremonies today. The women in the community give words of wisdom, dance, enjoy food, and socialize with one another. Their belief is that beginning of one’s menstruating cycle is a time of celebration and importance, unlike societies perception. These women have made an impact on many girls and mothers, believing “It takes a village to raise a child.”
“Kinaalda: A Navajo Rite of Passage”. Create Space. 7 Dec. 2010.<https://www.createspace.com/293447>.
Merchant, Carolyn. Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture. Taylor and Francis Books: New York, 2003. Print.
“Woman Wisdom”. Woman Wisdom. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <http://www.womanwisdom.com/w_coa_forward.shtml>.