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Most every woman has, in her lifetime, suffered the indignity of getting her period in the wrong place at the wrong time. When Democratic state representative Donna Howard was a seventh grader in Austin in the early 1960s, hers started one day in the middle of class. “Back then, we wore dresses all the time,” she told me, “unless it was a snow day, and then we got to wear pants.” When she stood up, the bloodstain showed through the back of her skirt. Her classmate—a boy, whom she noted was a platonic friend (“We were buddies”)—noticed and pulled her aside to quietly let her know. He then escorted her to the nurse’s office, positioning his body to shield her from being seen by others.…
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