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After spending a few years as the most talked-about female comedian on earth, Amy Schumer’s been laying pretty low lately. There was her badass arrest (opens in new tab) at a protest of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination last fall, but she hasn’t released a movie since last spring’s I Feel Pretty, or a stand-up special since 2017's The Leather Special. Of course, she’s been busy getting married to her chef husband and then getting pregnant—both topics that come up in her surprise new Netflix special Growing. In fact, the big themes of the hour-long special are that Schumer seems thrilled for motherhood, happy about her marriage, pissed about the double-standards women continue to face, and still down to party once she pops that kid out.
Another thing that comes up over and over in Growing? Periods. The Diva Cup gets a bit, as do Thinx, as does the concept of a sort of female, tampon-related, reverse-#MeToo dynamic that’s yet to be explored. Look, lady parts get a lot of airtime here—not quite in the same visceral, body-horror way as Ali Wong’s 2017 Netflix special Baby Cobra, which was both hilarious and an effective form of birth control—but Schumer tackles the stigma and annoyance of periods more frankly than a lot of mainstream comedians might otherwise attempt.
And thank god, because it feels good to laugh about this stuff for once.
After calling the absence of a period during pregnancy the “silver uterine lining,” she goes on to say this about period stigma:
“Right before I got pregnant I noticed how ashamed we’ve all been made to feel about getting our period. Our whole lives we choose it like, ‘Ugh, can’t kick my bleeding habit! I want it! I wanna do it!’ It’s supposed to be, you know, a secret. Like the second you get it, your mom goes, “You’re a woman now! And that’s disgusting.”
And in a particularly riotous bit, she explains those double-standards in detail:
“That’s the most embarrassing thing that could possibly happen to you as a kid, is that someone knows you have your period or sees you have your period. At that age for men, the most embarrassing thing is unwanted erections, right? But then they grow up and show them to everyone!”
Then Schumer mimes pulling out a tampon and hypnotizing her coworker with it. (It’s funnier than it sounds.) She also proposes that, instead of dick pics, women should send tamp pics, and jokes about the embarrassment of asking a stranger for a tampon. I don’t want to give away what she compares removing the DivaCup to, so you’ll have to watch it, but later she talks about her love of Thinx (opens in new tab), the absorbent underwear that let you free-bleed:
This special has everything: Elaborate descriptions of pads, a run-through of every type of period product on the market, and a disassembling of the shame around menstruation—a perfectly normal and healthy thing!—that women get saddled with. She laughs about what pregnancy is doing to her, about trying to stay confident in the face of, well, everything, and mocks the men who claim things are really hard for them in the wake of #MeToo. Schumer even reveals that her husband was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (opens in new tab), handling it in a way that's both stigma-reducing and kind of sweet.
And sure, all of this stuff is discussed through jokes, but that in itself is kind of groundbreaking. By laughing about periods, we’re acknowledging that they...happen to half the population, and that means we’re allowed to talk about them.
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Cady Drell is a writer, editor, researcher and pet enthusiast from Brooklyn.
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