Madame Gandhi Interview with Chicago NPR

Check out the full on air interview here!

Do you have any personal experience with stigma around periods in your culture? 

I lived in Mumbai, India between 1997-2000 where I saw at a young age how periods are considered shameful and embarrassing. In India, women are told they can’t interact with other members of the household, the food, the kitchen, and some times have to sleep on the floor. This always baffled me because I felt like if someone is already going through something that is deeply uncomfortable, and they themselves are doing so much already for the house and family, why would you make them suffer further, instead of designing ways to make their lives easier and more comfortable? This was a tragedy to me. In NYC, where I spent most of the rest of my childhood, I noticed that shame and taboo existed just as much. If a group of my female friends were talking about their period but a guy joined the conversation, they would immediately stop talking about it. I thought this was also silly – if I joined a group of men talking about something that would definitely make me feel uncomfortable, I would find they would still keep on talking as if I wasn’t even there. Why don’t we educate men about our cycles, instead of tolerating their disgust with our bodies? That only perpetuates the misogyny and our own oppression. When I ran the London Marathon free-bleeding, I ran to say, our cycles do exist, and it’s biologically beautiful and normal, and we do incredible things on our periods, all around the world, every day. I used the run as a symbolic act to combat so much of this stigma that holds us back around the world.

How do you challenge this stigma through your music?

In my music, I aim to celebrate the very things that make us female and feminine. In my song, “The Future is Female”, I end the second verse by saying “we’ve been bleeding each month till we gave birth to you.” In my recent song “Top Knot Turn Up” I say, “my time is not your property when I’m productive like my ovaries!” So that we continue to celebrate our anatomy, instead of feeling ashamed of it, or experiencing its over-sexualization.

In what ways do you continue to advocate for menstrual equity?

By speaking on campuses, conferences and at companies, partnering with menstrual health organizations to raise money for their work and by writing these ideas into my music.

Your thoughts on tax on tampons/period products.

It is burdensome to tax womxn, the segment of the population that already makes less money, for the most natural part of their anatomy. We don’t consider Viagra a luxury, why would we consider something that is natural and normal a luxury? And for anyone who has never used a tampon…I can assure you it is not a luxury!!!!

Kiran // @madamegandhi