I didn’t only research the feminine hygiene industry and feminine hygiene advertisements during my last year at Goucher. I also started a campaign to make menstrual products more affordable, visible, and accessible on campus.
It started with putting tampons in envelopes and writing out briefly a bit about the campaign on the outside of the envelope and then leaving them in restrooms across campus.
Then, I designed flyers to easily attach to the envelopes or free marketing packs I would get from the health center on campus.
I had initially called the campaign, as this blog is called, “Make Goucher Free From Feminine Hygiene” but later realized from student’s comments on the fb page that this was alienating to students who didn’t identify as feminine or didn’t experience menstruation such as trans men and women, intersex, and gender queer people. And even though the wording was challenging the idea of “femininity” it still was not direct enough. One student mentioned to me that he thought i meant to get rid of all feminine hygiene products on campus (which could be a goal as far as removing all DISPOSABLE products and using only sustainable methods, but that also assumes that all students want or can use reusable methods) which certainly wasn’t really my goal since I didn’t want to only advocate for free bleeding but for free opportunity/space for choosing whichever methods work best, whether that’s letting your menstrual blood go as it pleases, using tampons, or using reusable lunapads.
Anyway, here are the flyers I made.
Feel free to reuse/redesign/reword for similar campaigns on your campus/city/workplace/etc.
Additionally, during a feminist festival on campus I had a booth with free menstrual products and a petition for students to sign. Here is the text if anyone wants to do something similar. Of course you would need to edit to adjust stats to current year and your particular school or location. Again, this was before I changed the name of the campaign, so please keep that into consideration.
Free from Feminine Hygiene Petition
According to Jezebel.com,
$6.79 per box at Drugstore.com, at 9 boxes of tampons per year: $61.11
$7.99 per package of maxi pads at Drugstore.com, at 7 packages a year: $59.43
Generally, a woman will use more than 11,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime.
“Feminine Hygiene” is a myth.
“Feminine Hygiene” should not exist.
Menstrual blood is no dirtier than any other body fluid.
Tampons and pads are created to make more money off of people with menstrual cycles. They should be free on campus just like toilet paper and condoms, no questions ask and without shame.
Tampons, pads, pantyliners, menstrual cups, soft cups, and leak-free underwear should not be treated as luxury items.
Goucher College has more menstruating bodies on campus then non-menstruating bodies. According to US News and World Report, Goucher is 66% female and 34% male. And that doesn’t even count bodies that menstruate and identify as male or pass as male, or bodies that identify or pass as female but do not menstruate. These bodies should be accounted for.
Sign here is you think Goucher College should provide free Feminine Hygiene products in campus restrooms:
Finally, here was the manifesto for the campaign. Something I wrote after I had started similar work in Norwich, England, during my year abroad:
Free From Feminine Hygiene Manifesto
It’s not a luxury to get Toxic Shock Syndrome.
It’s not a luxury to feel your insides dry from chaffing.
It’s not a luxury to waddle like an infant wearing a diaper.
It’s not a luxury to have pretty, little special disposal bags with a pretty, coy lady in a dress on it.
It’s not a luxury to have a large designated box to dispose of used menstrual bloodied products.
It’s not a luxury to have brightly colored, flowery, fresh-laundry scented, pure white, phallic shaped time bombs inside of you.
It’s not a luxury to have silky smooth plastic dispensers.
It’s not a luxury to have to pay.
It’s a luxury to feel no shame.
It’s a luxury to have blood running down your legs.
It’s a luxury to smell that treacle-thick, sweet, sweet pungent odor.
It’s a luxury to be able to carry tampons visibly in your hand to the toilet.
It’s a luxury to wear menstrual-bloodied clothing.
It’s a luxury to not destroy the planet with used, indecomposable products.
It’s a luxury to not have feminine-hygiene-product-induced back pain due to anticipated periods.
It’s a luxury to swim, run, skip, skateboard, dance, have sex, bathe with blood.
It’s a luxury to wash bloodied hands in public toilets without drawing any attention.
It’s a luxury to have conversations about your period flow easily.
At the end of the year I gave a presentation on campus about the research, artwork, and activism I had been doing on campus (I’ll have another post soon about the artwork and another to finalize about the research project a bit more). It was also an opportunity to share with students a bit about some integral theorists and writers I had encountered during my year that they might never have the opportunity to learn about. We also discussed in round table fashion what work still needs to be done on campus and imagined a bit what a future might be without the menstrual taboo. Here is the powerpoint: menstrual reform and activism.