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Tampon tantrums

By Steve Korver Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 14:39
“The only blood I shed is my enemy’s!” … Swiss Army tampons! … Tampon activism! … Sustainable tampons! … These news flashes and more in this week’s Sex in the Press.

The Tamponator

"The only blood I shed is my enemy's."

These are the words of Furiousa, the warrior chick from the blockbuster movie Mad Max: Fury Road, as she gives credit to the absorbing power of her tampons for her ability to kick ass.

Unfortunately, this scenario is just a parody (‘Furiosa of “Mad Max” can even make tampon commercials look badass’.)

Tampon tantrum

“It might sound like we're stating the obvious, but for most women a quarter of the month, every month, is taken up with your period. That is almost a quarter of your life, ladies!” according to ‘Tampon Run is the best new computer game. Period.

So why is something so ‘normal’ still so rarely discussed?

This stigma around menstrual cycles inspired two young American girls to create the game Tampon Run where you get to throw tampons at the heads of little men. “Think Super Mario meets Temple Run”.

“Just don't run out of tampon ammo, 'cause then you're on your own.”

Tampon activism

“Men’s restrooms have everything men need, women’s do not. Tampons and pads should be treated like toilet paper. It’s the same,” says the founder of #FreeTheTampons, a movement that wants to make free feminine hygiene products available in all public bathrooms.

“And it’s not just females who understand the importance of making sanitary products accessible for all: 15-year-old Jose Angel Garcia of Miami has implemented his own hashtag activism, with #RealMenSupportWomen. The high school student now carries pads and tampons in his backpack as a resource should his female friends be caught without one,” according to ‘Bathroom inequality: TP Is free but tampons aren't’.

Meanwhile, thousands of women and men from around the world are taking selfies while posing with a tampon, as part of the very successful #JustATampon campaign. "Donations will help tackle discrimination faced by girls globally, not just around menstrual hygiene but other issues they face including child marriage and female genital mutilation," according to the initiators.

Swiss Army Tampon

Besides damming the flow, tampons have another 1001 uses (very much like condoms).

For example, you can save a life by inserting a tampon into a bullet or knife wound. (‘The Swiss Army Tampon: a life-saving wilderness survival tool’.)

Environmentalists are currently using tampons as a cheap way to test rivers for pollution (‘Glowing tampons help detect sewage leaks'.)

Soon scientists hope to use tampons to screen for endometrial cancer – which accounts for 6% of all cancers for women (‘How tampons might one day help detect cancer’.)

Tampons can also be used to start fires (‘Woman lights tampons aflame, throws them at S.F. building’.)

The real enemy

While fabulously useful, tampons do have another problem, besides being overly stigmatised: ‘Disposable tampons aren't sustainable, but do women want to talk about it?’.

In short, tampons and pads take a lot of resources and chemicals to produce, and centuries to degrade.

“Today tampons are used by over 100 million women worldwide, while pads, which are much more widespread on a global scale due to a cultural aversion to tampons in many regions, comprise a multi-billion dollar industry.”

Other, more sustainable, feminine hygiene products are entering the market, such as re-usable ‘period panties’. In addition, organisations such as Be Girl are working with women in communities around the world to come up with their own locally based solutions. But without being backed by huge marketing budgets, these efforts remain niche.

“The paper feminine hygiene industry has done a very good job of convincing women that their period is something [which] should be out of sight and out of mind, something they shouldn’t talk about,” says one activist. “Think about the advertisements we see – it’s all about silent wrappers, discrete and smaller products that are easier to hide or dispose of, and concealing the fact you have your period. Without opportunities for positive period talk, women and girls may not have the opportunity to learn about or even ask about other, more sustainable options.”

Who’s the enemy now?

Let’s talk tampons. Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.

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