Writer: Steph Yeoh
Edited By: Clarissa Lilananda
Our Review of ‘A Drip, A Drop, A Deluge’
+ Interview with the Author
‘A Drip, A Drop, A Deluge’ by Andeasyand is a charming, illustrated novel made up of vignettes that follow the intimate experiences of being a menstruating cis-woman in Singapore. The vignettes, comic-strip-like illustrations alongside short strings of text, explore the life stages of menstruation for women, from her first period to her last, all the while revealing the comedy, inconveniences and sometimes shame born from periods.
As a menstruating woman, I can recall the embarrassment and physical discomfort of having my period for the first time. I am also familiar with the added disruptions to my life that I still contend with today. In the story Mian Bao, for example, I identified with and laughed at the often innovative ways that women use to conceal their periods at school and work.
In the story Morphine Time, I grieved for the undue burden put on women to continue operating seamlessly in work environments that won’t move an inch to accommodate our unique healthcare needs.
In the vignette Ruby, I smiled at Ruby’s initial blasé attitude towards bleeding, and then instantly resented how she was conditioned by her mother to wash away traces of blood, or to “properly” dispose of used pads. Also in Ruby, I felt angry when confronted with Ruby’s ah ma who insisted that she use a newspaper to cloak every surface she might sit or sleep on. The antiquated trope that periods make a woman unclean needs to be put to bed.
‘A Drip, A Drop, A Deluge’ shines in its ability to bring attention to specific and often hidden experiences of menstruating women in Singapore. I was surprised, however, that in 2021 menstruating women in Singapore are still overly reliant on pads despite the unforgivingly hot and humid weather in which we continue to live, school and work. I was pleasantly surprised to see a chapter on how to use menstrual cups, but I also wish the chapter would further address period solutions that I was unaware of as a teenager, for example period undies, tampons, or the extended use of birth control. These would have made a huge difference to my comfort while in school.
To add to the novel’s merits, I imagine at least one, positive, perspective on periods would have rounded out the menstrual experience. For example, a vignette where menstruation isn’t “the worst day of the month,” but instead a day for doubling down on body empowerment and self-care.
‘A Drip, A Drop, A Deluge’ is a collection of multi-faceted period stories, and an approachable start towards discussing the experiences of menstruating women in Singapore. The novel takes a bold step forward in normalising the common experiences of menstruating people and will certainly encourage fruitful conversations around periods, intersecting with the ways they relate to shame and comfort, stigma and body image, and what more can be done to accommodate menstruating bodies in all spheres of society. I look forward to reading more of Andeasyand’s works; her unique perspective and signature illustrated style which are taking taboo topics to inclusive and broader heights.
An Interview with the author, Andeasyand
In the forward, you mention that awkwardness is now your front seat passenger. Can you explain what you mean by this?
For a long time, I tried to hide the awkwardness that I experience and I still do in some form. If it were a person, I would have stuffed it in the boot and tried to squeeze it close. But over time, with wonderful people in my life who have created pockets of safe spaces, it has allowed me to share my awkwardness with the hope that it helps someone else. It is now often next to me, driving this road called Life. It reads the map on where we are going. Sometimes it guides me to a pit stop and do something nice for myself. Sometimes, we are lost, so we get out of the car and ask for help or talk to someone.
How did you land on the topic of menstruation and who did you work with to add colour to these stories?
I used to draw daily every night, inspired by a significant thing that happened to me that day – that was how I started drawing stuff about menstruation because on difficult days, when that is all I could think about. It started to become my period tracker of some sort. When the Difference Engine Team asked if I would like to illustrate something about menstruation, I said Yes! With anecdotes and stories I’ve collected through the years and interviews with real women (and a couple men!) I started creating a narrative for the individual stories even though all of them are based on real people.
Who first educated you on menstruation? Do you feel that your education on menstruation was sufficient?
I do not think that I was sufficiently educated on menstruation. School briefly touched on premenstrual syndrome. My mum would teach me how to discard pads and such but it’s only in random conversations would I learn about tampons or how periods can affect your daily function. I was in my twenties when I discovered not everyone has terrible cramps or has period poops, that changed my view about things.
In the novel, you highlight menstrual cups.
Is there a reason for this preference?
I discovered menstrual cups while joking to my friend about having a suitcase half-filled with pads for an upcoming backpacking trip. Getting it was life-changing and I thought everyone needed to know about it. When the opportunity came with A Drip. A Drop. A Deluge. I took it. From an environmental and economical perspective, menstrual cup changed my life for the better. From a physical sense, no one ever told me to measure myself. That I could be physically different in a world that is quick to give a quick fix to problems. The intimate information I got out of it from measuring my cervix height to trying on my first menstrual cup changed my perspective on things. I was required to feel if the cup was right for me, to learn methods to put it in and ultimately to know how comfortable I am with it. To be able to say, “No, this does not feel right for me” is a powerful statement for a woman or any person, I think. Especially in a world where we are quick to put labels on anyone. In my conversation with a few women, people are scared of it, even those who have tried on tampons and I think I just wanted to create a primer for the beginner.
Would you be in support of allocating sick days for people
who have periods?
Every menstruating person experiences their periods differently. While I think people should be allowed to take sick days when they’re not fit for it, I am not sure if allocating sick days for period pains is the answer. I think employers need to trust their employees when they’re not feeling well and trust that they want to bring their best to their workplace. Talking about periods is still an intimate thing for some people and I am not sure if every menstruating person wants it to be known.
Do you feel that menstruating people have sufficient support at workplace environments? How should workplace environments be altered, to better accommodate menstruating people?
I suppose it would differ from work place to work place. Perhaps it would help to talk to women in the workplace. They would know best the infrastructure that they need. It also depends on their age and lifestyle they lead. Their needs would differ. There is no one stop solution to creating a supportive environment. It is an ongoing process. That is not to say it is easy, considering that there may be a tendency for menstruating people to adapt to situations.
What do you think non-menstruating people should know about periods? Furthermore, how can non-menstruating people be better allies to their menstruating counterparts?
Non-menstruating people should know that periods affect their counterparts differently and it is often beyond their control. There is no switch to stop the follow or halt the cramps. Sometimes, a little bit of empathy can go a long way. Perhaps instead of being disgusted by it, understanding the shame that can come with it would help and seeing that it is a biological process. I can’t measure how grateful I am when I could ask a male friend to check the back of my skirt.
Were there other aspects of menstruation that you wanted to illustrate but ended up leaving out of your novel?
I would have wanted to illustrate period poverty and the experiences of those who are not cis-women. While I knew of it briefly in the beginning, it was only in the process of research that I truly understood how deeply it affected people and I wished I had enough words and power to give the attention that it deserves. The by-product of not talking enough about periods is that people who are adversely affected by it may not get the help that they need.