An initiative to educate Indian men about the pain and discomfort of menstruation had participants screaming in agony in the Indian state of Kerala, one of the country’s most progressive states.
Organizers of a campaign called “Cup of Life” set up menstruation simulators at colleges and shopping malls in the district of Ernakulam to let men briefly experience period cramps. The project was launched by Congress party lawmaker Hibi Eden and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to normalize conversations and discredit myths around menstruation, which remains a taboo topic in many parts of India. A significant number of the population still holds on to the belief that women are impure when they menstruate and that they should be kept away from certain events. As part of the campaign, organizers of the #Feelthepain movement conducted simulations and distributed free menstrual cups to participants.
The simulator, which has a pain level that can be dialed from one to 10, could be attached to two people at the same time.
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A video of the simulations shows men experiencing the pain of menstrual cramps for the first time. Meanwhile, the women – who naturally experience the pain on a regular basis – watch as the men wince in pain.
Sharan Nair, a social media influencer who participated in the campaign, said of the experience: “That was really painful. I never want to experience that ever again.”
He noted that while the women who tried it felt nothing, “the guys, including me, were hollering and bringing the place down.”
Like Nair, many of the male participants could barely stand the pain and asked to switch the machine off immediately.
Dr. Akhil Manuel, an official from IMA and a coordinator of the Cup of Life campaign, shared that “Women don’t even flinch at [level] nine while the men find it hard to make it past four, even though the simulator only transmits 10 percent of the actual pain.”
While perceptions may have changed in modern cities, discussions about periods are still often avoided by women who don’t feel comfortable talking about them with others.
According to lawyer Sandra Sunny, one of the event organizers, the simulator is the “easiest way” to promote positive attitudes on such a sensitive topic.
“If you ask college boys directly what they know about period cramps, they’d be reluctant to talk,” she said. “But if you ask them… have they talked about periods with anyone, what makes them reluctant to talk about it – after using the simulator, they are more forthcoming.”