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Manchester High School for Girls

#PeriodPride at Man High

On Tuesday 3rd September, we welcomed Class of 2003 alumna Emma Barnett back to School to host a talk and Q&A session with our Sixth Form students all about her new book, Period.

By day, Emma presents The Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live on which she interviews the key figures shaping our times - from the Prime Minister through to the philanthropist Melinda Gates. By night, Emma is one of the presenters on the BBC's flagship current affairs programme Newsnight.

Emma Barnett

A weekly columnist for The Sunday Times and former Women’s Editor at The Telegraph, Emma’s first book, Period, will discuss the stigma and societal taboo attached to periods.

Riding the cotton unicorn, time of the month, lady time; all euphemisms for a period, a perfectly natural occurrence for over 50% of the population yet still surrounded by myth and stigma.

With her first book, Emma aims to confront the taboos related to talking about menstruation;

“What better way to start my book tour then by coming here and engaging with the girls at my former School about ending period prejudice together!”

Taking to the stage Emma told of her experiences; from getting her first period aged 10 in the changing rooms of House of Fraser in Manchester and celebrating with a hot chocolate, through to her diagnosis as a sufferer of endometriosis, a painful affliction which affects one in seven women.

Emma Barnett and Mrs Chisnall

Half an hour of periods and politics later, conversation in the School hall was ignited with questions coming thick and fast from our girls. On being asked; “How did you present this idea to publishers?” we learned of Emma’s first meeting with a squeamish publisher who refused to utter the word period. When asked; “What is the most prominent political interview you have carried out?” the girls went on to find out that five minutes before her interview with Theresa May, the former prime minister, Emma had been giving herself one of many daily IVF injections in the loo. Emma’s message was clear throughout the session; 

“Women’s health isn’t straight forward, we need to talk about it, we need to address periods, and if something doesn’t feel right don’t keep it to yourself, let’s start the conversation.”

Before having the opportunity to get their own signed copies of Period, Emma shared her biggest life lesson from her time at Man High; “Don’t temper yourself to fit someone else’s mould. As I entered the real world, I quickly learned that if a woman is vocal and fights for something then there is a tendency that she will be viewed as pushy, shrill or getting ahead of herself. If a man does the same thing however, he is just 'going for it'. Being at this School taught me this shouldn't be the case and that no matter your gender, you should have the confidence to reach for what you want, and not to worry about what others think.”

To find out more about Period, visit: https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008308070/period/