Period. End Of Sentence, And The Liberation of Womanhood
Menstruation does not signify disgrace or a lack of intelligence. This is why Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi partook in such a noble pursuit to bring to life an amazing montage Period. End of Sentence.
The 25-minute long Oscar-winning documentary is riddled with the task of uncovering centuries upon centuries of oppression, toxic masculinity, social conditioning, misinformation and ignorance associated with menstruation. Rayka also tackles the idea of the classic double-edged sword that themes and stories of the marginalized often involve— the foreseeable risk of presenting herself as an overbearing spokesperson of underdeveloped consciousness, in turn muting the voices of the people the film wishes to shed light on.
Period. End of Sentence teeters on both sides beautifully by showcasing a story of liberation from the perspective of those that are fighting for it - the women. With this, a group of courageous women band together to find a solution to manage their periods, but they identify the problem first.
The documentary is set in the village of Hapur, (the outskirts of Delhi, India) beginning with a montage of clips where women, men, and school children are questioned about their knowledge on periods. The young girls have difficulties concealing their laughter and are too shy to look at the camera to even say the word ‘period’, the village elders call it “bad blood" that tarnishes women, and an "infection" that should be wiped off with mangy rags. The deep-rooted ignorance is so engrained in the society that a perplexed group of boys ask if this period is the same thing as a bell to signify the end of class.
Afterwards, a cost-efficient pad vending machine is placed in the village, and a group of women come together to operate the machine. In the comfort a small brick hut tucked away in a corner of the village, the women create a subtle revolution, one pad at a time.
The documentary’s goals are more than just the de-stigmatization on what periods are, it also yearns to give women a sense of support. The women go from door to door to demonstrate the products' prominance over mass-produced sanitary pads. Potential customers have reservations; it was unheard of for them to have a product that catered to their menstruation needs. As the camera zeros in on their anxious eyes, one brave raises her delicate hand in order to express her interest in purchasing some pads. Encouraged by this bravery, every woman raised her hand happily.
Although the clearly embarrassed men pretend to be ignorant, calling it "Huggies", the women unapologetically promote their 'Fly' pads. In providing employment opportunities, the venture also gives them a sense of purpose as they were once unaware of their potential for change.
Not only is the film a culmination of all the social issues and taboos existing in societies, but it also presents solutions to the problems. With more men making an effort to help out their female co-workers at the factory, they are no longer shying away from participating in the greatness of the project. Period. End of Sentence ends with a sense of hope.
At the heart of the documentary , Period. End of Sentence pays homage to womankind. Perhaps, the term period would only be used to conclude a sentence, and not to stop a woman’s dignity, education and freedom . Talk about the girl power we all crave and deserve !
Cover image via Mama Mia