Listen up boys and girls, it’s time to talk about the bloody elephant in the room. Period chat, get amongst it. And honestly, you can cry me a river if you think that this is “too gross”, “too feminine” or its “wayyyy to much information” for you, because periods exist team, whether you want to acknowledge or not.
For some reason, which is honestly beyond me, the word, the thought, and in fact the general presence of menstruation has been wholeheartedly stigmatised in our society. One mention of the word “cramp” or reference to it being “that time of the month” and almost the entirety of the male population will go running for the hills. Well, not on our watch.
So, here’s the deal: Periods – shark week, the crimson wave, the red army, bloody Mary – whatever name you give your little monthly surprise, are a part of the menstrual cycle. This is a regular and N A T U R A L change that occurs in the female reproductive system, primarily in the ovaries and the uterus, all to make pregnancy possible. Without recounting the whole 50 minute of the awkwardly presented lesson given to us all in year 11 biology by some middle-aged, male science teacher, I’ll go head and just outline the basic premise. Essentially, this cycle is required to produce these lil things called oocytes, better known by their street name “The Egg”. This cycle is centred around the uterus preppin’ itself for the arrival of these pesky little creatures called “sperm”. If these lil dudes don’t make an appearance, the uterus then rejects this egg that it’s been brewing away for a good month. To reject the egg, the uterus basically sheds its lining, sending the egg and the resulting menstrual blood flow through a small opening in the cervix, and out through our good old friend, the vagina. Voila! The period. That wasn’t so bad then was it?
Jokes, menstruation SUCKS. There are SO MANY potential symptoms that come along with our uteruses shedding their linings each month, all of which have commonly grouped together by ignorant men across the world to be known as PMS – premenstrual syndrome. These include: Hormonal acne. Tender breasts. Bloating. Increased tiredness. Appetite changes. And yes, irritability and mood swings. Like, of course I’m going to be in a bit of a shit mood because my body is physically rejecting the cells that had prepping themselves for a good twenty days in order to conceive and carry another human, only to squeeze these cells out the teensy-tiny cervix hole. The only thing that could possibly make this whole excruciating process even worse would be silly, silly boys saying silly, silly things like: “ugh, she’s in a mood because she’s on her rag.” Nuh uh!!! No THANKS. Get this is your heads please @bois: we can bleed for 5 whole days in a row AND NOT DIE, so either be understanding of this whole situation, or just purely leave us alone.
Even worse than people not taking periods seriously, is the whole fricken entity of the NZ government not taking periods seriously. In New Zealand, sanitary items are taxed as a “non-essential, luxury items”. Um what the HECK is this @nzgovernment. Non-essential???????? Luxury?????? Are you implying that tampons are similar to that of champagne, caviar or swiss chocolate? Because boy are you WRONG WRONG WRONG.
And what is this non-essentially business? Do you know what will happen is we don’t have swift access to pads? We will literally bleed all over the place. Blood. From our uteruses. We will bleed all OVER your publicly owned land @nzgovt.
And it’s not just the Government that’s getting our panties in a twist here. In the workplace, and in schools, “getting your period” is seen to be something that is seen to be either 1) hush hush, or 2) yuck yuck. Women often feel embarrassed, self-conscious and uncomfortable “sneaking off to the bathroom” to deal with our “little problem”. And this is not okay! Women should embrace their cheeky lil uteruses shedding their linings, not feel like they need to be ashamed of something that over 50 percent of the whole fricken world has to deal with.The bottom line is, this stigma needs to be wholeheartedly demolished. Tampons and pads are not luxury items, they are a basic need for all of us gals across the world that struggle with menstruation every goddamn month. We shouldn’t be spending extra dolla dolla bill$ on sanitary items when we could be saving for our first home, or for the $4 broccoli from New World (wtf).
So that’s where Dignity comes in. Dignity is a social enterprise that follows a similar “buy one give one” structure to the “eat my lunch” social enterprise that took off last year, except instead of giving lunches to kids in need, Dignity instead provides sanitary items. When businesses subscribe to this social enterprise, they not only provide free tampons and pads in their bathrooms for their female employees, they simultaneously are providing sanitary items for girls in schools too.
These two audacious entrepreneurs have done something magical by targeting the stigma and degradation surrounding menstruation in the workplace, AND in schools. When people get on board with programs like this, it means that both girls and women alike can feel more comfortable and secure in every environment, as our bodies attempt to explode from within every four weeks. They say that not all heroes wear capes, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some cool looking halo’s hovering over these gals.
Fun fact of the day: In Denmark, a common way to describe being on your period is “the communists are in the fun house.” Hell YES.