Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Menstrual Sex — Well, Not Quite

June 19th, 2012 by David Linton

Some months ago we published a piece titled “Menstrual Sex: the Last Taboo in Advertising?”  It was an analysis of a magazine ad for Softcups, a disposable menstrual collection cup, and it generated some interesting feedback.  Some reader took exception to the analysis, pointing out that the device and the add didn’t actually deal with menstrual sex since its purpose was to create a situation that eliminated any need to actually encounter menstrual fluids and therefore not having to deal with any of the social or psychological taboos nor with any aesthetic reservations the parties might have about having sex during the period.

Taking into consideration those thoughtful comments, I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at another ad in the same series.

The tag line for the earlier ad was, “12 hour leak protection so you can sleep.  Or not.” And it showed the legs of a couple lying on top of each other with the women on top glimpsed through an open door, creating a voyeuristic sense of witnessing a private, erotic encounter.  The companion ad uses a similar approach, this time revealing a young couple kissing and holding hands seen through a narrow opening in a pair of thick curtains.  They are back lit by a window and might even be thought to be hiding behind the drapes.

The ad is a semiotician’s delight.  Everything surrounding the couple reads “old fashioned.”  The drapes are dark and tattered; a mantel on the left has a gilded picture frame above it and a small china tea pot on the shelf; to the right is another formal picture frame, floral wall paper and the edge of a deer’s antlers mounted high on the wall; the bottom of the picture fades into darkness.  However, at the bottom edge is a box of the Softcup product, angled in such a way as to appear to be emerging from the dark room.

In addition to the headline, “Do everything you would if you didn’t have your period. We’re not just talking about swimming.” The body text drives home the notion that this is a new product for a new generation that is less squeamish about sex during the period than the original occupants of the room: “The next generation of period protection.”  It goes on to mention “mess-free sex” and the rest of the copy stresses that the cup will contain the menstrual flow so that you can go about your life just as though you didn’t even have a period.

And, ironically, that’s just what turns the ad into a reaffirmation of the anti-period sex stereotype.  Though posing as a hip, new product to appeal to young women who presumably are not hampered by antiquated notions of when in the cycle it is OK to have sex, the ad implies that, just like the long tradition in pad and tampon ads, you can go about your life as though you did not have a period.  In other words, it’s another appeal to “keep him from knowing.”

7 responses to “Menstrual Sex — Well, Not Quite”

  1. Lisa Leger says:

    Does anyone know where to find some messy and erotic menstrual sex scenes? I’m looking for books, short stories, online posts, vampires – anything. The fact that its so hard to find is revealing…

  2. […] Read full article… Filed Under: FemCare, Hormone Health US News, Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Tagged With: Fem Care, Holy Hormones Honey! The Greatest Story Never Told, Period Protection, SMCR, Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, Women's Health […]

  3. Excellent commentary David. Thank you for making us aware of yet another that shames women into not accepting their menstrual cycle as a normal and healthy function of their body.

  4. Sorry dropped a word. Please read as ‘making us aware of yet another product that shames…..’

  5. Jacqui says:

    I seem to be way off-message here, oh well. This seems to me a case of 2 steps forward 1 step back. As commented in the previous article, yes it brings menstrual sex out of the closet, but then slams the closet door before it’s right out! And I feel that in the menstrual advertising desert, that I at least want to praise these guys for putting the words menstrual and sex together. This is a major taboo, and one maintained by women as well as men. If this product allows women to conceive of having sex where they would have normally made embarrassed excuses, then that’s still a positive step. This is not saying that women should be sexually available either, but that they can listen to their sexual desire if it’s there during menstruation. Perhaps it would be a step closer to then saying ‘what the hell, let’s try it without the softcup, the sheets need washing anyway…’ I figure they should be given points for trying. (though I would then remove the points for the appalling use of photoshop)

  6. David Linton says:

    Jacqui, A very thoughtful response. Thanks. Yes, I agree that there is something positive about even suggesting that sex and menstruation are not incompatible and perhaps ads like this open the door for thinking about the possibilities. Despite the continuation of the secrecy theme (which often builds upon shame and taboo) and all the images in both of the Softcup ads that suggest a ort of sneakines, at least it does put the topic into the mix.

  7. Max says:

    Lisa, you can find some stories about menstrual sex on the Literotica website by using the search function.

Readers should note that statements published in Menstruation Matters are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.