Happy International Women’s day!
Let’s uh… let’s talk about something I’ve avoided talking about for about a decade but suddenly feel empowered enough to put in writing.
Let’s talk periods. I’ve been watching a lot of period related YouTube content for the past few weeks and since it’s international women’s day… let’s talk the problems most women – and some men – face when dealing with their periods then I wanna talk about something I’m super excited about.
First up, homeless women on their periods. Bustle did an excellent video on the realities behind homeless women on their periods.
They use plastic bags. They re-use pads, they leave tampons in for too long because they have no choice. Pads are expensive, tampons are expensive and when you have nothing, the choice is feeling clean and going hungry, stealing or using unhygienic and dangerous methods of blood collection.
Bloody Good Period are a charity giving menstrual products to refugees, asylum seekers and people who can’t afford them. There are so few period products donated to shelters and food banks. They aren’t free. They are a necessity. You can donate via their amazon wishlist or by donating a Dame Box on their website.
Next up, periods are considered the epitome of femininity. Wow, look, you’ve “become a woman,” now and can face all the fun that involves.
This can leave trans men who still get periods at odds with their body. Even more than usual.
It can also leave trans women out, especially when you get TERFs – trans exclusionary radical feminists – bleating on about how being a woman is all about bleeding for a few days every months and anyone who doesn’t experience this is WRONG and NOT A WOMAN.
My peeps, this is bullshit.
I think this is a major problem with how we treat and talk about periods in general. We force womanhood on 12 year old girls who are literally kids. They have a ‘woman’s body’ and may now be sexualised because they can hold babies. We alienate those women who don’t have periods, trans or otherwise and we ignore men who bleed and turn it into a women’s club, complete with flowers and pink wrapping.
How about we… yanno… stop that?
Can we like, not?
I didn’t feel like a woman when I started. I was weirded out and my only thought was “NO ONE CAN KNOW.” And I was lucky, I was able to get pads and as uncomfortable as everything was – I definitely have some horror stories – my period has been a relatively easy ride for me. And it’s not for everyone and that needs to change.
I recognise the strangeness of talking about this on international women’s day – I’m here specifically talking periods while mentioning men who have them and women who don’t but that’s my point. It’s not an all woman thing and it’s not a woman only thing. We need to recognise that.
For people who get periods, it’s totally out of their control. They shouldn’t have to suffer anything more than cramps. They’re mostly unavoidable. Sorry.
Sooooo we’re gonna make a huge leap from the negative to the slightly weird and just gonna pretend it’s not weird, okay. Okay?
In December I bought a moon cup. And it’s the best thing ever and I’ve been so excited and I want to tell everyone but I also know it’s a bit weird to talk about and I don’t talk about periods anyway but I couldn’t keep it in.
So, a moon cup is a menstrual cup – I call it my blood cup – that sits inside you and catches the blood, which you then tip into the toilet. Pretty standard, right?
It’s a bit weird to get in, because you kinda have to fold it tight and then it, like, pops open inside to create a suction so it seals and doesn’t leak. They’re made from medical grade silicone, so it’s completely safe to put inside you, and each one can last up to 10 years. I’ve only just stopped buying pads because I didn’t trust the seal but in the long run they save you so much money because they’re not disposable, and they’re way better for the environment because you’re not chucking plastic bits and bobs away. BTW the mooncup is £15 on Amazon.
I like it for all these reasons – especially the environmental side – but using one has allowed me to actually understand my period and my body more than a pack of Always or Bodyform did. Yes, it goes inside you and not in the neat way that tampons do, so you have to get your hands a bit messy. That’s normal. Periods aren’t unclean, they’re just… well, they’re just a bit messy. Whether you leak out of your pad onto your clean sheets (sorry mum) or Surprise Bitch, you period on a day you were never mean to period, things get messy. At least the blood won’t stain your hands.
Because you actually have to see the blood – you can keep the cup in for up to 12 hours, though for heavier periods I’d recommend a max of about 6 – to empty it, it demystifies the whole situation. It’s easier to recognise there’s nothing strange or weird about your period, or the blood itself when you’re seeing the blood.
But. Use whatever you feel comfortable with, pads, tampons, or a sea sponge. Just don’t write off the reusable products because of a bit of blood.
So here’s to my blood cup, and also periods. Happy International Woman’s Day.