Growing up we are told stories of heroes saving the day with their courage and strength. The take away is that muscles are a euphemism for manliness. As I have gotten older I see more and more that we have misunderstood the message.
But the challenge with those stories is that many times the main characters were larger than life characters and you never felt like they would fail. As Marcus Aurelius puts it: "no challenge in the competition, no honour in the victory".
The message is not that a man needs muscles and to win fights to be a man. A man needs to be brave in the face of his fears. It's the behaviour that is important, not the outcome.
As the great Billy Connoly once said: "you are only brave when you are scared".
So for the men reading this, let's be brave, do something that scares you. One idea that you can easily do is ask an amazing woman in your lives about their period.
I know, I know, that has already freaked you out. If we want women to listen to our issues we need to reach out and discuss and understand theirs.
We have more in common than we have that separates us. I have not had a period so I can't speak specifically on what it feels like, but I have had discomfort from eating bad food, feeling unwell, car sickness, so I understand the general feeling.
I have known, and I am sure you all have, many wonderful, intelligent, vibrant women. What I didn't know is that they suffered in silence during their period, there are many different things that can affect this but the common ones were Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
1 in 10 Kiwi Women has Endo so you know at least a few women who endure it. It is an inflammatory disease that causes period pain, pelvic pain and in bad cases infertility. There are different levels of Endo and some require surgeries to try to remove the inflamed tissue.
PCOS is a hormonal condition that causes infrequent periods and affects their skin, hormones, fertility, as well as their mental and emotional wellbeing.
Did you know that the signs we are taught as a heart attack are only for a male heart attack, females have different symptoms and so many doctors misdiagnose women when they are having one.
Periods and "women's issues" are only scary and taboo because we don't talk about them. Once we talk about them and put some light on them they are just part of the human experience. The idea that we don't discuss something that is integral to human life seems bizarre to me.
Just like any cohort of people, there are going to be those in real pain during their period and there are going to be a very small number of people that take the piss. Having an honest conversation about how someone is feeling shows compassion and bravery. To have that uncomfortable (for now) conversation also means that those people that are lying get shown up more easily.
I think it's better to support those that need it with a risk of some people getting away with something than not supporting those that are in a true time of need.
So step up to the plate, talk to your mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, cousin, friend, ask them what their periods are like. Ask them if they need anything. Tell them you are there to listen. Ask them to express how they are feeling when they are going through it so you can try to understand it and better support them.
Be brave, it's the manly thing to do.