Last week, I found myself, for the first time since I was like 16, in the unenviable position of being caught short without a tampon. Luckily, I was able to scrounge one from an acquaintance, who gave me a conspiratorial nod and handed me, not a tampon, but a cute little purse. Her…tampon purse. In this diddy little purse were three tampons and some paracetamol. She had packed herself, like, a tampon…kit. I assume this was so she didn’t have to take her handbag to the loo every time she went, but could still ‘conceal’ her tammies.
I guess there’s every chance that this took me aback because, as a messy whirlwind of a woman whose handbag contains the secrets of the Universe and the lost treasure of the Sierra Madre, I don’t organise my tampons. In fact, just last week, a tampon that had managed to come free of its applicator and wrapper fell out of my bag onto the couch, where my cat hastily decided to destroy this new ‘mouse’. But I digress…
Please don’t think I’m not grateful to this lovely lady for helping me out in my hour of need. Seriously, I’d save her life in a fire, as thanks for that kind deed. But it got me to thinking about periods in general. Why does that girl feel the need to smuggle her tampons around in a weeny little wallet when they’re already in ‘handbag-safe’ packaging? Why do Lil-Lets market ‘whisper wrappers’? Why is it such a big huge massive gigantic deal that periods, yaknow, happen?
Why am I even annoyed about this?
OK, the tampon purse, I see the deal. In a bar or your workplace, you might not want to stride to the bog, Tampax Super aloft and bright orange, announcing “I am going in there to switch out my jam rag!” I get it. Personally, I pop a tampon in my pocket before bobbing off to do my shameful business, and that’s not much different. But the whisper wrappers on Lil-Lets really piss me off. You are, I would assume, in the ladies’ loo*. It’s pretty safe to assume, really, that anyone who’s going to OMG hear you unwrapping your tampon is probably also of the period-having persuasion. And even if they’re not (maybe they’re pregnant, or on birth control, or trans, or they simply don’t have periods) they probably don’t actually give a shit if they hear you unwrapping your tampon or your pad or your fricking Mooncup.
The Lil-Lets that have silent wrappers (“so you don’t get that tell tale rustle when you’re in a shared toilet” according to the Lil-Lets site, jeez) also have outer packaging that pisses me off like big style:
Oh wow, isn’t it just so awesome that now we can hide from our menstrual shame in the comfort of our OWN HOMES!? Errrrrr. no. Seriously, I find this more than a little bit ridiculous. If you’re living with a boyfriend, then quite frankly if he can’t deal with seeing Tampax’s big blue box on the bathroom shelf, then I’d question his ability to handle an adult relationship. If you’re worried about your friends, what, seeing your tampon box and judging you, or something? You need new friends.
The whole idea of periods as shameful is as old and disgusting as sexism itself. It’s tied up in the totally messed up notion that women, and the female body in general, are dirty, impure, abject things that are always “less than” man. Quite frankly, I have enough of this bullshit every time the media tells me to wax all my pubes off, or to ‘act like a lady’, so I really, really do not have the time to be worrying if the woman in the next cubicle can hear me unwrapping my tampon, or whether people I trust enough to have inside my house will see a Tampax box by my bog (where I also do pooing and weeing, but nobody freaks out because I have toilet rolls out on display, huh?)
I get that I am probably being a little over dramatic about this, but the fact is that little things like this- tampon purses and whisper wrappers and discreet packaging, they all add up to the idea that your periods are super gross and dirty and you should be ashamed. When I’m on my period, I’m too busy mainlining Dairy Milk, crying at the boyfriend for “NOT UNDERSTANDING MEEE” and trying not to OD on ibuprofen. The last thing I want to be worrying about, is how I should be hiding my secret bleedy shame.
Oh, and you’re paying for that packaging, too, with a mark-up of 5p per tampon, over Tampax…just sayin’.
Becca writes an absolutely top notch blog (where this post first appeared) which I recommend you bookmark immediately. She describes herself as a beauty addict, feminist and faux ginger, as well as a Minajaholic (probably not the same as a mingeaholic, which is what I first read when I saw that). She’s a postgraduate student, an amusing tweeter and a user of excellent similes. I suggest you follow her on Twitter tout de suite.