When reading her post and thinking about how I'd like books to be more realistic, and it occurred to me how few fantasies - YA or adult - mention teenage girls and women having their period. Or at least, that I've read. Mention of periods are needed in a lot more in all books, not just fantasy, but I can name more books outside of fantasy that include periods than I can fantasy novels.
I can think of only two examples. The first is the is the most recent book I've read, Drown by Esther Dalseno, a retelling of The Little Mermaid. When the mermaid becomes human, she wakes up one morning to discover her sheet is covered in blood. Mermaids don't have periods, so she has no idea where this blood has come from. She searches her body for some wound, but finding none, she goes to a housekeeper with her sheets in panic and confusion.
The second is The Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb, the third book in The Liveship Traders Trilogy.
I will be revealing some spoilers in talking about why periods are mentioned in this book, so don't click below if you plan on reading the series and don't want it spoilt for you.
One of the characters is Malta. She has been kidnapped along with the Satrap (king of Jamailia) and is being held on a ship with no escape. The Satrap's concumbine, also with them, is injured, and she tells Malta to hold some rags to her wound to bloody them, and then put them in her underwear. She also teaches her the word in the kidnappers language that basically means she's on her period. The reason for this? The kidnappers won't rape her if she's on her period as she'll be unclean.
Otherwise, in the books I've read, there's no mention of periods, in any description. Female characters involved in quests, running from danger, in massive fights of the physical or magical kind, or making political or strategic military plans. Never once do they have to worry about doing such things with cramps, or getting their period suddenly without having tampons/sanitary towels and a spare pair of knickers on them, or needing to quickly find a toilet because they need to change whichever product they're using.
One would assume these women don't have periods. And perhaps they don't - in urban fantasy, some characters are paranormal creatures, and so for those characters, I'd let it slide. I could accept that vampires don't have periods. We could argue that completely made up worlds in high fantasy are made up, and therefore the characters aren't necessarily human as we know humans, but I think that's a bit of a cop out. If the characters' bodies act similarly to humans' in every other way, why not have their female characters have periods?
Some might argue we never see or hear of characters go to the toilet, so why do we need to see characters on their period? Because periods have more of an affect on women and their bodies than simply going to the loo. There are mood changes, there can be pain and discomfort - extreme pain and discomfort for some, and, just generally, it's something that's apart of our daily lives for around a week every month.
Also because there is still a stigma around periods. As a society, we don't really talk about periods. Not really. And when there's talk about keeping "female hygiene products" out of view so any men who are in the bathroom don't have to see them, there's a problem.
I'm not expecting books to go into great detail about periods, but it would be nice to have a mention of a woman having to fight an enemy while battling with cramps, or how she's having a less than great day on her quest because she happens to be suffering with PMS (Though don't be sexist! Don't have women be moody or grumpy BECAUSE she has PMS. We can be moody or grumpy without having PMS, and those assumptions that women are on their period because they're not being nice, quiet, docile little ladies are so, so offensive!), or just something. Some mention.
Because women do have periods. And I think books, especially fantasy, should reflect that.
What do you think? Have you read any fantasy novels that feature periods? Please give me your recommendations!