Paid Time Off For Your Period Is Now A Thing At This Company

 Some days, the sensation of a Pokémon battle going on in your reproductive organs is just too much.

Some days, the sensation of a Pokémon battle going on in your reproductive organs is just too much.

But will it be used as justification to keep women from getting promoted?

At long last, it seems that a company is finally ready to acknowledge what women have known for a couple hundred thousand years now: The first day of your period can really suck.

Culture Machine, a Mumbai-based media company with 75 female employees, recently announced a “First Day of Period” leave policy, wherein female employees are allowed to take the first day of their period off, if they feel their discomfort warrants it.

The video below documents some of the women’s reactions after they’re told the news:

Their reactions are endearing AF—so much excitement and honesty. 

But while the women are clearly excited about checking out on the days it feels like a Gremlin is tap dancing in your uterus, you can’t help but wonder if this policy plays into destructive clichés. Ones that would have us believe women are less competent while they’re on their periods.

Stereotypes surrounding women’s abilities and their emotional disposition during menstruation are pervasive, longstanding and too numerous to count (see: Donald Trump or Donald Trump). 

Yet earlier this week, a study published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience found that “there is no consistent association between women's hormone levels, in particular estrogen and progesterone, and attention, working memory and cognitive bias.” 

The fact that this conversation is even taking place represents huge progress in terms of acknowledging women’s experiences in the workplace. But the video leans heavily into the women describing how debilitating their periods are, touching on physical discomfort to mood swings; one woman describes herself as a “dictator on set” when she’s got her period.

Considering where we are as a culture, it’s hard to move away from the idea that a male-owned company giving women time off for their periods isn’t low-key perpetuating a larger sexist notion that because of our biology, women are less capable of executing the same work as men.

To be fair though, the men in the video express a really nuanced understanding; in response to the potential of men in the company calling the policy unfair, Rushir Joshi, head of content, replies that “We don’t understand that pain, and we don’t go through it,” and that if men did, they’d probably (definitely) want the day off too.

But until more men take up a similarly nuanced stance and genuinely take part in a conversation about reducing stigma, the potential for this policy to be used against women seeking promotions or raises runs high. We’ve seen it happen over and over again with women taking time off for maternity leave.

The idea that tending to the biological needs of women’s bodies is a job perk and not a right is something in which our culture is deeply entrenched, and it's proven to be a tough battleground. See: the fact that the US is the only industrialized nation without a federal maternity leave policy

Here’s to hoping Culture Machine’s additional efforts to petition the ministry of human resource development and the ministry of women and child development to apply this policy across India gains traction and the conversation continues.

Word: Deena Drewis
Photo: Daria Kobayashi Ritch