When it comes to time-travel adventures and women, Hollywood has decided they're very much against it. Unless you're a Time Lord's companion, Jennifer Garner, or Girl Terminator, the past and the future are boys' clubs where women are roofied on arrival.
THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE WAS NOT A METAPHOR.
And that's if women get invited at all. Rachel McAdams, God bless her, has starred in three different movies about time travel and has time traveled in zero of them. Females, apparently, are incapable of handling the pressures of every moment but the present.
Practically speaking, Hollywood might be right for once. As crappy as women have it today, the past suuuuuucked for ladies. And traveling to the future sounds like a blast until you arrive in the charred remains of our once-habitable planet. Possessing a vagina isn't going to help you swim better in a waterworld, and your boobs aren't going to help you breathe whatever passes for air in the distant future.
But for one minute and the sake of this article, let's imagine a future universe where time travel is safe and reliable and no one is worried about climate change because we figured that mess out. Good news, future Lady Chrononauts! I've already written the manual addressing the special problems you (we?!?) are going to encounter as we violate the natural order of time itself.
#4. You Can't Bring Your Tampons
Let's address the bloody elephant in the room right off the bat. When God, in all his sadistic wisdom, blessed women with monthly hemorrhage sessions, he probably wasn't thinking, "Ha-HA! Now I've done it! Women will never face combat or swim with sharks again! SUCK IT, WOMEN!"
Liz Gregg/Photodisc/Getty Images
The Holy Trinity, laughing at the good joke they played on women.
Even after way more than enough time than necessary to contain periods, if not erase them from our bodies altogether, the best period-related technologies the modern world has come up with are cotton vagina noodles and panty diapers. The word on the street is that there are reusable, environmentally friendly menstrual products out there, but I'm hoping I start menopause before I'm guilted into washing out my own insides every month. Here's my truce with the planet: I'll start using environmentally friendly lady-day products if you, as the people of the Earth, let me reenact a crime scene from The Wire every time I get my period. Deal?
I'll just wear this as a sash once a month.
There's a problem for women of childbearing age who want to time travel to the past: You can't bring your preferred blood-handling technology with you.
For one thing, unless you're traveling to a developed country in the last few decades, you're going to a world without modern plumbing. Nothing gets flushed away into the underground water park that is the miracle of sewage systems. Your monthly notification that you aren't pregnant has nowhere to hide in the past. And you can't bring your modern tampons and pads, because that technology doesn't exist yet. We all know that the second rule of Time Travel Club is that we don't leave our modern implements behind. Unless you plan on carrying your used, blood-soaked tampons back to the present with you, there's nowhere to hide them in the past. You can't throw them in the trash; there is no trash. Well, there is, but you can't leave your cardboard applicators and dry-weaved synthetic winged panty liners behind for confused anthropologists to discover among pottery shards later. Which means only one thing: You have to study the period technology of the ... period.
Depending on where and when you land, you can plan on shoving papyrus or sponges up your vagina, walking around with fabric wadded up between your legs, or getting sent to a segregated menstruation hut so you can bleed into the ground like the world's grossest farmer. If you land in your great-grandmother's day you can look forward to wearing something called a sanitary belt, which was a pad that hooked to a belt that you wore around your waist, like this:
On the plus side, you could use it as a slingshot in a pinch.
At this point the question you, as a time-traveling woman, need to ask yourself is this: Is time travel even worth it? If the wonders of what you're seeing in the past are tainted with the memory of chafing wads of grass in your hoohah or constantly squeezing your thigh muscles together to contain wadded up linens so you could go watch the Lincoln assassination or whatever, is this whole game of "hide the blood" worth it?
The more adventurous, Sally Ride-ish among us will say, "YES!" and take on periods as women throughout history have handled them, with dignity and strength and as much discretion as culture requires. The rest of us need to be realistic about how comfortable we really are with handling our own blood and stick to the history books for a glimpse of the past. Ain't no shame in not wanting to sit in the Menses Hut for a week.
#3. I Hope You Like Celibacy!
Andrea Morini/Photodisc/Getty Images
All time travelers should take a vow of celibacy, no questions asked. "I (state your name) will keep all genetic materials in my body so as not to make past or future babies who will Butterfly Effect the universe into oblivion." Easy. Put your name on the dotted line and go have some nonsexual fun.
While we all agree men and women should keep it in their pants when exploring the past and future, we also know that the stakes are extra high for women. Chances are, you're traveling to a world without condoms, birth control, or anesthesia. Syphilis you can handle. Come home and get your antibiotics and never time travel again, you nasty horndog. Pregnancy, on the other hand, is a whole can of worms time travel can't unopen. For one thing, you aren't going to find out you're pregnant until you've got a decent-sized fetus growing in your belly. Bringing an unborn out-of-time human to the present feels like something that shouldn't be allowed. If you can't ride a roller coaster while pregnant, you shouldn't travel through time and space while pregnant. That's just common sense.
But feel free to smoke all you want.
Which means you're now stuck in the past, facing a childbirth experience where you will probably die. Yes, some of our ancestors survived the childbirth experience to propagate the species and get us here today, but A LOT OF THEM DIDN'T, and don't kid yourself about how hardy you are. Right now there are parts of Africa where one in six women die during childbirth.
No one who helps you deliver the baby is going to wash their hands. There's no such thing as sterile delivery equipment. If someone suggests a C-section, it's because your doctors think you're already about to die and they want to save the baby. The very-best-case scenario is that both you and your baby survive childbirth ... and then what? Come back to the present? NOPE. You can't bring that baby and its caveman DNA here. Are you going to stay behind and live in the past forever? NO. That's going to jack everything up even more. No hot peasant from the past is cute enough to be worth these terrible scenarios, ladies. No sex for you.
In fact, let's just plan on no kissing, holding hands, or mouth stuff, either. You are Columbus and the past and future are a race of people with foreign immunities and diseases. YOU DO NOT WANT TO GENOCIDE THEM. Even their body lice is different from ours. The second you start smooching, you're unleashing a smallpox epidemic on your own ancestors, which means you might disappear seconds later. So let's make like a tree and keep our legs crossed while time traveling. Deal? Deal.