Period isn’t a dirty word, but for a hella long time period poverty has been thought of as an area too murky to dive into. The grim reality is that whilst we’ve been whispering in hushed tones about our time of the month, many folk across the UK and beyond are forced to go without the products they desperately need.
For many years when I had to buy tampons or sanitary towels (or fanny pads, as I called them then, because Scotland), I’d walk into the shop, shove them in the bottom of the basket and then buy a pile of cheap and entirely unnecessary crap to hide them with. If the cashier was a man I might bolt, or if it was a woman who didn’t look too judgemental, I’d squirm my way through and leave with a sigh of relief. The idea they’d know that I bleed from my vagina every damn month was literally horrifying. I was so full of shame it felt like it seeped out from my pores.
In a beautiful twist of fate, I found feminism and I found feminists. I found a bunch of women who were sick and tired of conforming and pretending, sanitising and minimising and were happy as hell to say it out loud. The catch 22 of periods is that even though they mostly hurt like hell and can come with a whole host of other symptoms – I’m talking sickness, the shits, fainting, walking into things – we’re not supposed to talk about it, lest we seem hysterical or incapable. Our anger or emotion can be written off as ‘being on the rag’ rather than, you know, being a human with actual thoughts and feelings.
As I was shaking off the shame and anger, I realised that I didn’t need to let it go entirely, just direct it to those responsible for this bloody mess. I’m damn lucky. I’ve always been able to afford sanitary products (and mostly the pile of crap I bought to bury them in my basket). What about those who can’t?
To me, to say someone is ‘on the rag’ still feels quite dated and yet quite literally across the UK people are resorting to stuffing their pants with tissue, rag, kitchen towels, whatever the hell they can find. Because if you don’t have the cash and free tampons are few and far between then you don’t have a choice.
Period poverty is part of a much bigger picture of poverty and inequality in modern day Britain, and it’s something we need to fix, pronto.
This is not the time to go with the flow. Here’s how you can help:
- If you are in Scotland, Monica Lennon MSP is raising the issue of period poverty in the Scottish Parliament; ask your MSP to support her Private Member’s Bill. Find them here.
- If you have money, chuck some in the direction of charities working to provide short term solutions, like Bloody Good Period who provide sanitary products for refugees, asylum seekers and those who can’t afford them or The Homeless Period.
- Or if you have time and can get active see if your local foodbank needs volunteers
- Get your pals to donate sanitary products to charity or foodbanks, and make it as easy as possible for them to do so
- And finally, be period proud. You don’t have to march the streets chanting about clots (but if you want to I am THERE), but you can let go. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
- Brenna Jessie / @NennaBaston
Top ‘Super Tampons’ image © the marvellous Gemma Correll
Image below from Vecteezy