Friday, July 12, 2013

Tampons are NOT anti-feminist, you flapjack.

Look, as most of you know, I'm a lady. I have lady parts. Those lady parts bleed once a month for about four to five days because my uterine wall is an asshole (and also wants to make sure that I can have behbehs). As a matter of fact, I'm on day four as we speak. And yes, I use tampons because I think that pads are gross. I'm lucky in that I can use them, because I am friends with several women who cannot due to various reasons. There are also women who prefer pads to tampons just because. So whatever. Who the fuck cares?

Apparently, The Daily Beast does. I spent so much time arguing aloud with this article that I actually woke my husband up all the way upstairs. My childhood (and well, adulthood, too) was filled with fun conversations that involved all sorts of body functions - just part of the bliss of having a colon and rectal surgeon as a father and a nurse practitioner as a mother. So perhaps I never understood the stigmatization of my menstrual cycle because I never had to deal with it. My father would go buy me tampons like it was no big deal, and both of my parents gave me the "this is what's going on with your body" talk. Any boyfriend that I had was never, "OMG EWWW YOU HAVE BLOOOOD?" Yes, I've even had awesome sex when I was having my own personal shark week. That was my first problem with the article.

When the author, Soraya Roberts, brings up two people - Giovanna Plowman and Carina Ubeda - that have eaten a tampon or painted with her menstrual blood (respectively), I pretty much screamed, "That is because it's fucking disgusting!" I'm a bit more lenient with Ubeda, since as an artist, I can see where she's trying to be ... artistic, but still. I'm not going to buy a painting that has human blood on it, regardless of its origin. I would have the same reaction if a man ate his butt plug or used his semen to sculpt an exact replica of the Millennium Falcon. It's GROSS.

Moving on. I'm going to skip the "but periods aren't in movies and TV" section because, well, unless it serves as part of the plot, it's kind of unnecessary, and step directly into the history of tampons, which were kind of like what access to The Pill was like just a few decades later: freedom for women. Like I said above, pads are not the most fun to wear, especially if you don't want to feel like you're wearing a diaper. And as someone who has severely heavy flow, this happens pretty frequently, and I can just not even imagine what it was like for women who had to wear cloth as a sanitary napkin. At least pads are designed to be absorbent. I am thankful that I live in a time where I can go to a supermarket and pick up a box of Tampax Pearls.

While all of this information was ... well ... informative, then the author just kind of goes off the deep end. Like, I'm not even sure she knows what point she's trying to make.

This quote from Sharra Vostral made me so mad I had to get up from my computer:
The assumption is you have to touch yourself, and kids, and especially prepubescent or virginal girls, should not be doing that ... If you're a virgin, you're supposed to use a pad. Otherwise, you should use a tampon.
OMG, YOUNG WOMEN KNOWING AND UNDERSTANDING THEIR BODIES AND THEIR SEXUALITY BEFORE ACTUALLY HAVING SEX WHERE ARE MY PEARLS FOR THE CLUTCHING. Fuck that. I was using tampons by the time I was twelve, and I didn't even have sex for the first time until I was 19. Now, I don't know if Vostral was saying that this is the assumption or that she actually believes this absolute crock of shit, so I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that she's just reporting what she's heard. But the fact that this is actually something that people in general think bothers me waaaaaay more. Who's business is it if I choose to wear a tampon or a pad? WHO'S??

Grumble, onto the next part, which actually brings me a lot more rage. And I quote (it's long):
Tampons aren't a bloody mess; pads are. They put your fluid on display, they can smell, and you can't flush them down a toilet - in short, they are visible. 'Part of the stigma is the need to hide [the menstrual blood] right away and not feel it against your body,' [Ingrid] Johnston-Robledo says, and adds that she thinks women who are more comfortable with their bodies 'would be more likely to use products where you really have to look at and interact with your fluid as opposed to clogging your body with a tampon and just tossing it into a toilet.' She considers pads the middle of this continuum, with a menstrual cup being the polar opposite to the unobtrusive O.B."
You, my lady friend, are making some pretty big fucking assumptions about women who use tampons versus women who use pads. So a woman who uses a tampon isn't as "secure" in their own body? How about maybe I actually just don't want to

Basically, this, along with Xbox assholes being all "OMG A LADY IS NOW A BIG WIG UGH I DON'T WANT TO PLAY BAKING GAMES," has just pissed me off for the rest of the day. And honestly, I don't even know what this Roberts is trying to do with this article. She doesn't really make any sense, since tampons really do seem to be more empowering than sexist and "keep the woman invisible." While I agree that menstruation is looked at by many people, men and women included, to be a taboo subject - although I do not count myself or the majority of my friends in this group - this is not the way to go about it. Education is important; boys and girls alike need to know more about how their bodies work so that way they don't freak out (this has never happened to me, so I'm just guessing that some people respond this way??) the first time they realize that, yes, Virginia, women do have periods and, yes, they need to have some way to keep the blood from going everywhere.

The only positive thing I brought away from this article is that I now know of Genesis Be and my new favorite song, "Tampons and Tylenol." So, thanks for that, Daily Beast. You fail everywhere else, though.
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