No matter how far we may come with menstrual advocacy, the world never ceases to surprise us with moments that make us ask ourselves “what year is it again?”
Ryan Williams, a teen “meninist” in the UK created quite the conversation on Twitter when he weighed in on the Tampon Tax debate with the following tweet:
Tampons should not be free, why does everyone keep saying they should be?? If you can’t control your bladder then that’s not taxpayers problem!
On October 17, 2106, The Mirror Online reported that Williams set up a poll that asked how many people would support his view. To his surprise, 87 percent of respondents disagreed with him, believing that tampons shouldn’t be taxed. A lesson in biology for the Twittersphere: menstrual blood does not come from the bladder and it cannot be held in — when menses begins, there is no stopping flow!
But wait, on November 10, 2016, The Sun reported it was all a hoax, and that Williams was actually trying to promote women’s rights. In an interview with Metro he said, “The Tampon Tax Rant was a hoax to raise awareness for the stupid tampon tax, the lack of sex education and women’s rights.”
Hoaxes that may or may not advance women’s rights aside, there do seem to be more and more conversations and educational moments occurring online that have potential to derail further taboo-driven attitudes about menstruation.
One ground-breaking example is the Period Coloring Book. It’s the creation of Andrea Yip, a public health practitioner and designer. Period Coloring Book takes graphic artistry to a new level — that of body literacy and empowerment. Yip designed the book in response to conversations she had with menstruators, seeing it as a way to open up conversations about the bodily experience. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Yip said:
“I believe that having open conversations about menstruation can help people better understand and celebrate their bodies, and ultimately make more informed decisions about their sexual health..”
Illustrations reference period sex, period panties, and flow, and each page allows for education and self-reflection. As of November 18th, 2016, Yip has received 158% of her crowdfunding goal to bring this amazing period-positive book to print through her Indiegogo campaign.
While femcare companies have long played a part in menstrual education, a new ad campaign by Easy., an organic tampon subscription service in Canada, shows what it really means to menstruate. Alyssa Bertram launched Easy. with a two-fold purpose: 1) to provide an “easy” way for women to access their menstrual products each month and 2) to provide women with menstrual products that contain no added chemicals. Easy.’s recently launched “No Shame” campaign features four posters with scenes that depict the reality of being a menstruator, including a woman in the tub with menstrual blood in the water and a couple changing the bed sheets after a leak. All four images can be seen in this brief video posted by HuffPost. Comments to the accompanying article about the campaign suggests it is hitting a nerve.
In the world of ongoing menstrual research, the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology in Tunisia conducted a small study of 30 women, published in the journal Annals of Endocrinology, that has identified a biological reason for why women crave pasta and chocolate before menses. As reported in the MailOnline:
Researchers believe women’s cravings in the days before their period, the ‘late luteal phase’, may be explained by fluctuating ‘happy hormone’ serotonin – which also accounts for the mood swings. Carbohydrates increase serotonin when our body’s natural levels dip, making bread and pasta an appealing comfort food.
The study concluded that more research is needed about the influence of hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle on women’s eating habits. But in advance of further evidence, a Swiss company has recently launched a chocolate bar that is being marketed as a remedy to period pain. Chocolate with Love’s Frauenmond (women’s moon) bar contains 60 percent cocoa solids and 17 Swiss mountain herbs that supposedly ease period pain.
When she is not writing and researching about the menstrual cycle and woman’s health for Diva International Inc., or blogging for Menstruation Matters, you will find Sophie Zivku trying out new recipes, reading, attempting to knit and spending time with her ever-growing family in Ontario, Canada.