How do a culture’s or society’s values and beliefs affect gender equality?
“I Am Not Untouchable. I Just Have My Period.” is a four-minute film that touches on themes of cultural beliefs and gender. It profiles teenage girls who live in Surkhet, Nepal. In small villages like Surkhet, the practice of “chhaupadi” — forbidding girls and women from participating in daily life during their periods — is common. These girls tell their “menstruation stories” in an effort to speak out against the cultural practice and end the stigma against menstruation, both for themselves and future generations.
1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.
2. After watching, think about these questions:
• What moments in this film stood out for you? Why?
• Were there any surprises? Anything that challenged what you know — or thought you knew?
• What messages, emotions or ideas will you take away from this film? Why?
• What questions do you still have?
3. An additional challenge: What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?
4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)
5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.
6. To learn more, read “I Am Not Untouchable. I Just Have My Period.” Cheryl Strayed writes:
The first time I heard the word “chhaupadi,” I was standing on a rooftop in Surkhet, Nepal, in November 2017, surrounded by teenage girls. They were students at the Kopila Valley School, where my husband, Brian Lindstrom, and I had spent the previous week leading workshops in writing and filmmaking, which led to our video Op-Ed above. Some of the girls had asked to meet with us after school to talk about their lives; we’d barely finished with introductions when one tearfully told us that she’d been banished from her home and made to sleep in a cow shed when she began menstruating. This is the way it was for many girls and women in Nepal, we learned, as the other girls told us their stories.
• See all the films in this series.
• Read our list of practical teaching ideas, along with responses from students and teachers, for how you can use these documentaries in the classroom.
• Our next Film Club will take place on Thursday, April 4.