“Puberty cards make it easier”

Really? Do they? Menarchy Parties R’ Us says so. In fact, they suggest throwing a puberty party, complete with Pin the Ovaries on the Uterus game, “Private Days Feminine Disposable Bags” as party favours, and a “Puberty Marshmallow Game”.

It’s all tremendously well-meaning. But I think I’d have had to crawl under my bed for a week and not come out if someone had tried to throw me such a party. (Thanks, SL!)

14 thoughts on ““Puberty cards make it easier”

  1. I find it icky to the utmost to be honest. I am trying to see how this could be liberating though. I quite hate it that there is such an air of “unmentionability” about menses, so it would be good when it’s just something to “celebrate” when it first happens, I guess.
    Would it be an improvement to be able to say that you’re indisposed because of a period as well as being indisposed due to a migraine or something? It will always be something exclusive to women of course. So I don’t know.
    In quite some cultures menarche is celebrated of course, but that means that often from then on, the girls is eligible for marriage and therefore for sex. And just the thought that people really think that a girl can be seen like that just because some biological process started to work fine. I don’t know, if I had a daughter I would not want that advertised.
    Also, suppose that it would become normal to throw this kind of party as soon as menarche happens. A friend of mine was very unfortunate to have menarche when she was only 9, she kept it well secret, it bothered her tremendously. I also know it can be very, very worrying when you only start it very late. What do you do? Fake your party then?
    On the whole, I think that though it is indeed well meant and all that, menarche is very much a private matter and I think I would want to keep it that way.

    Pin the ovaries. Golly.
    Shouldn’t that have the tag “gendered products” too?

  2. I finally found out what the bags are for; they’re just for putting pad or whatever in them. I guess the idea is that you can then discretely throw them away. In their little hot pink covering.

    I can’t remember any of this being any problem – that is, for the month or two before I started getting horrendous cramps. Is there now some simple thing one can do about cramps?

    I do remember my mother recommending vodka, and I have an awful memory of going with a boy to his parents. I don’t think one could say I was blotto, but I was certainly attenuated. I was probably 14. O well…I’ll see if I can forget it. I’ve only remembered it for decades and decades.

  3. I cannot imagine anything that would have been more embarrassing to me at that time in my life than to have the *whole world* know…

    And yes, Hippocampo, I recall at least one of my classmates who “matured early” and was horribly embarrassed by it – and by the behavior of the boys towards her….

    And it is cultural. this is the way it was in our culture and perhaps is now. Is it? Have things changed ?

  4. oh, yuck! i was horrified enough that my mother blathered on about how proud she was that i was “a WOMAN now,” interrupting herself only long enough to make my father go to the drug store for feminine supplies. but i was also 15 at the time, and the absolute dead last girl i knew to reach official puberty.

    beyond that, i don’t think a woman’s menstual status is anyone’s damned business unless she personally decides to share information. dont’ get me wrong, i think it’s important to be able to talk with trusted people on an individual level — it’s a natural process and not a dirty secret. but glorifying a period as the ultimate womanly achievement devalues the things she chooses and works for, no? and on the flip side, i don’t think there’s room in anyone’s life for the snide remarks about PMS [or, at the far end of the spectrum, “change of life”]. our innards are not public property.

  5. I referred to “the way it was in our culture” – I should clarify a bit – I was born in 1941, and lived in an academic community in Pennsylvania.

  6. A proud parent (a professional philosopher, a truly gentle, wonderful dad) proudly announced to me recently that his 14 year-old daughter started her menses. The poor girl was standing next to us, thoroughly, alarming embarrassed. I was also deeply mortified for her. It was one of those awful social moments that seemed to go on forever. My mother and father did the same to me when I was 15. I cannot, just cannot, understand why well-meaning parents continue to do it? Why isn’t not automatically completely private, beyond publicity?

  7. krrr, i’m feeling that daughter’s pain just hearing the story. gah. my own daughter, i’m pretty sure she would have killed me if i’d done that to her, even though she is a very thoughtful soul.

    i’m wondering what these marketing geniuses think would be a good card and party for a boy entering puberty? pin the tail on the beginnings of facial hair? woo hoo for a voice that is less soprano? condoms as party favors?

  8. The funny thing is that when my daughter “started” (very recently) I really did feel proud and happy–the reaction surprised me. I had to force myself to shut up about it! Public discussion–actually, any discussion–was clearly not wanted.

  9. The whole thing strikes me as being more concerned with telling the whole world about it than actually addressing the girl’s feelings. I can remember my own feelings when it happened to me (at age 11) and they were not nice. How can we deal with these feelings and respect girls’ need for privacy?
    Cause in the end we seem to agree on the assumption that this stuff is well-meaning, ie that there is something negative about menarche that we would like to go away.

  10. After checking out the web site and assuring myself that this is not actually some kind of strange joke, my biggest concern was with the equating of mature reproductive parts with womanhood. Is this really what we want to teach our daughters?

  11. i am so glad mine waiting until i was almost 17. my sister was much less lucky at 11. well intentioned or not, this game is cringe worthy, too.

  12. I know…how about retaliating with Pin the Foreskin on the…….maybe not….

  13. Lol, J. The Jews have a name for that part of the male appendage. SCHMUCK! I would not go so far as to use it to refer to the person that designed this game, though. Maybe she was just trying to help remove the burden of shame for young girls?

    Unfortunately, some women who suffer only mild cramps and no mood swings can be as biased about these things as men are. I had a female prof once who stated outright that PMS is a myth designed by men to [insert radfem rant here]. I was floored!!

    Though severe PMS/PMDD is not extremely common, some are troubled by the symptoms. Do the math on some of the dates beside my more inflammatory comments for evidence of how a game like “pin the cramp factories on the freak” may be perceived by a young girl experiencing these symptoms for the first time. If you want to throw anybody a party at that time of the month, the only way to do it is with a (as in ONE) partner or trusted female relative, a gentle backrub and some Mayan Chocolate Haagen Dazs.

  14. i don’t know…it seems like kind of a fun idea, although i admit i would have been completely mortified if my mother had suggested it when i started. but that’s probably because in my family sex and reproduction were topics to be avoided unless absolutely necessary. i wonder if a child brought up in a family less anxious about such matters, and who had friends who were raised in similar circumstances, would react to the suggestion of a party the way that i (and most others of my generation) would have.

    some caveats: of course, it should be totally up to the child (not imposed by the parents), and it shouldn’t equate beginning to menstruate with becoming a woman. it’s a big deal, though, and it doesn’t seem totally crazy to celebrate it. (i guess i’ll just go with any excuse for a party.)

    plus, it seems to me that treating menstruation as a super-secret matter just feeds the ridiculous idea that it’s somehow shameful or disgusting. (i once knew a guy who had a problem even looking at unused tampons. i mean, come on.) anything that might play a role in diminishing this kind of reaction can’t be all bad…i’m not suggesting that people who aren’t comfortable publicly mentioning or celebrating their menstrual processes do so. but for those who would be okay with doing it, perhaps they should– it might be good PR for aunt flo.

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