Last Sunday evening, at the Lower East Side bookstore (and feminist Mecca) Bluestockings, Chella Quint attempted to begin her 5th installment of a performance built from her zine Adventures in Menstruating. However this piece, Here’s The Science Bit, was quite rudely interrupted by Mother Nature, in tweed, presenting a pink and red wrapped box. Mother Nature who typically appears in Tampax adverts, exclaimed “It’s your monthly gift!” Chella seemed pleased to accept it. This confused the woman. “But…but, she stammered. It’s your monthly gift?!” Chella reminded her that she was quite happy taking it, thank you very much, and proceeded to open up the box (wondering why boxes are a running theme in fem care advertising.) For the next hour, as the paper flew and big red bows zoomed around the room, the gifts kept coming from Chella and co-performer, Sarah Thomasin, now donning lab coats.
Chella (a contributor to this blog) and Sarah’s writing on the fem care industry is spot on. Since 2005, they have produced the zine and now a blog which attempt to poke and prod the hawkers of pads and tampons out of their shameful marketing strategies. This evening they re-examined ads from the 1950’s for Zonite, a douche so powerful yet “safe to tissues” (??!) and Modess, a menstrual product pre-wrapped (i.e. disguised) in plain brown packaging. Of course, as Quint pointed out, the only other product to be wrapped in this manner were bombs.
In another hilarious bit, Quint played a Mooncup while Sarah proclaimed “I’m a tampon!” They argued back and forth of their varying abilities to collect and discard menstrual blood. However, The Tampon had to leave the conversation mid-sentence, only to be replaced by another Tampon who had not been part of the initial conversation with Mooncup. This happened thrice over (though of course, this would happen thousands of times over in a 10 year period, the typical lifetime of a menstrual cup, wherein the average woman would cycle through approximately 2,750 tampons.)
To combat the side effect of pop culture’s representations of menstruation, S.H.A.M.E. (Shame, Horror, Ads/Media, Erasure) Quint presented a takeaway for the evening – The Stain. The latest in fashion, Stains are red felt blobs akin to blood stains which you adhere to the front of your clothing (at your crotch) or at the back side. As Chella and Sarah presented their gift they praised the product “The best defense against stains is a healthy dose of shamelessness!” Several attendees wore their stains out the door, proudly walking down the street impervious to shame-induced fear and carried forth the overall feeling of Adventures in Menstruating – high brow and low brow at the same time.