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Periods don’t stop women from becoming leaders — negative stereotypes do

OK, so we thought we’d busted all the crazy period myths out there. We all know you can go swimming during your period, yes? That it’s OK to have sex during your period? That it’s equally OK to exercise, wash your hair and drink cold water during your period?

One of the myths that is less cut-and-dried is the belief that women are always moody and irrational during their period. Yes, lots of women experience some level of PMS when they’re menstruating, which may include moodiness, irritability and irrational behaviour. PMS is a real condition that can affect women of all ages to varying degrees.

Having said all that, millions of women across the world manage to cope with symptoms of PMS month after month. More than cope: They run households; they kick ass at work; they make important decisions affecting the lives of many. They fight for their countries; they save lives; they make an enormous, invaluable contribution to the world. And they do all that without taking a break to bleed.

More: What getting your period at an early age means for your health as an adult

We need this to be the message we send women about their periods. Not that they should doubt their abilities to do one or more of the above. However, an Australian executive coach has caused controversy with an article on HerCanberra.

One of Sarah Macarthur-King’s tips to menstruating women is to avoid making any “critical decisions,” and if you absolutely can’t avoid doing so, get someone you trust to check it over to make sure you’re, um, sane. Unsurprisingly, Macarthur-King’s article, titled “PMT: How to manage your emotions in leadership,” caused such a stir on Facebook that the link was taken down.

We can’t comment on the personal experiences of Macarthur-King or her clients, and yes, some of the critics of her article took her words out of context. But it’s massively insulting to declare — or even imply — that women cannot be “consistent and professional” during menstruation.

“‘Psycho’ is not a leadership quality,” Macarthur-King tells us. She’s absolutely right, but that has nothing to do with gender, and by using language like that in an article about periods, she’s simply reinforcing the negative connotations that already plague women in leadership.

More: Sorry, but female empowerment has nothing to do with your relationship or lack thereof

Before you go, check out our slideshow.

Powerful quotes from women
Image: Jeremy Woodhouse/Holly Wilmeth/Getty Images

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