You may have already heard the story. Basically, a 26-year-old Harvard student ran a marathon without a tampon and made it a statement about period-shaming and oppression.
First, let me get one thing clear: I am a woman and a feminist, and I think it’s stupid that there is a lot of hush-hush concerning periods. But really. Aren’t there far better ways to combat said hush-hush? Tampons (or whatever feminine hygiene product floats your boat) are not about secrecy, patriarchy, or objectification. They’re about you. When you think about it, these products are pretty liberating. Because of tampons, we can swim, run, bike, and live like normal people, rather than sitting inside on rags all day. Count all the pool parties you’ve been able to participate in and the pairs of underwear you’ve saved because of modern sanitary care.
Also, this is about hygiene. If someone pees themselves, would they just keep going about their day? No, they’d change their clothes. If someone gets a cut on their finger, would they just leave it there to smear blood over everything because, hey, no shame in bleeding? Of course not, because it’s unsanitary. It’s not oppression to be asked to take care of yourself. You can’t just sit on benches or metro seats or swim in pools with blood everywhere–why? Because blood is a bodily fluid. It’s a contaminant. That doesn’t mean you yourself are a contaminant, or that having your period is gross. Don’t blame patriarchy when people are a little disgusted by the notion of running a marathon without a tampon. Again, I’m a woman myself–and that’s simply unhygienic.
Ms. Kiran Gandhi, the marathon runner, says that she ran for women without access to feminine products. To me, though, that seems like more of disrespect. Many third-world women would do anything for a pad. We’re privileged here. Why not collect donations to support these women? Wouldn’t that be a whole lot more effective than just talking about it and cutting ourselves off to the vital resources that could be used to help others?
Yes, society is still kind of grossed out about periods, and it’s annoying. I still hear people talking in whispers–you know, shh, protect the boys’ ears! Some people still get embarrassed when they need to ask for a pad or something. The way to combat the petty secrecy is to just be natural. You don’t have to stand on a table and scream to the world that you’re on your period, but don’t treat tampons like controlled substances. “Hey, you need a tampon? Here, meet me outside the bathroom and I’ll smuggle it up your sleeve.” Just don’t think that pads or periods are dirty words that need stupid synonyms. You know? Be natural about it. You don’t have to sacrifice your personal hygiene to make a huge statement.
It’s just common, sanitary sense.