I’ve been a bit distant lately, but it’s been for good reasons.
Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity (privilege) to share my research with friends and family, a community shelter, college, university and even high school students. From these experiences I’ve realized there is a dark side to menstrual education – the side of peer pressure, judgment and conformity among, not men, but women.
I’ve witnessed young woman judging each other based on (a) the menstrual product one chooses to use and (b) if and when a girl gets her first period. In the classroom, girls sought approval from their peers before even touching a product like The DivaCup while others were teased for winning a free menstrual cloth pad.
For this reason, we need to be careful about how we talk about women and the choices they make for their menstrual cycle, because young women are watching. We also need to remind ourselves that every woman’s cycle is unique and in the end it is up to each woman to choose the product she wants to use to care for her cycle. In essence, menstruating women need to stop judging menstruating women!
Of course there were many great moments along my journey. Young men shared about how they felt as if they were kept in the dark about this period thing us women get to experience. They were also the most talkative and more accepting of the idea of alternative femcare products in comparison to the women I spoke to. And I was excited about how many young girls were eager to offer their critique on present-day advertisements and femcare products.
Although I can’t go into every high school in the county (yet), I believe that if we start to correct the way we talk about menstruation at home and in our social circles, we will see a change in menstrual talk among future generations.
This week is International Women’s Week. I want to challenge women to celebrate being a woman. Take some time to think about your cycle and the choices you are making for your menstrual health. To the men out there, buy the woman in your life a DivaCup and use the money you save from not buying disposables to plan that family vacation, dinner out or house project you’ve been wanting to do.
As I keep promoting these products to young girls, my hope is that they will take the information home and that the women in their lives will embrace it and maybe even try a product themselves.
Until then I will keep hoping for the day when people ask: “Tampons? What are those?”
Hey, if it happened to cassette tapes and the Walkman it can happen to disposable pads and tampons. You just need to get the idea flowing and the rest is… history.