Talkin’ Periods. Enter Exclamation Marks!

First thing’s first – Happy Mother’s Day! Hope you spent quality time with your mom, called her, wrote a letter to her, or at least thought about her. To all those women who’ve struggled, sacrificed their wants, and exemplified unconditional love: I salute you!

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Periods. This isn’t the grammar police knocking down your punctuation doors. And it’s definitely not the Avon lady. Someone else is stopping by – your Monthly Friend (who apparently needs a condescending nickname).

It’s time to talk dirty – period dirty. Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis, there will be blood…just not the kind you were expecting. And no bowling pins are involved.

Before I go into how women perceive their periods and the media’s strong influence, let’s see how menstruation has been referred to as colloquially.

Redrum, Redrum!

Cher Horowitz from Clueless gets off the hook when she gives Mr. Halli the excuse that she was ‘surfing the crimson wave’. Crudely, having your period is also known as being ‘on the rag’. And then there are the nosebleed science textbooks that call the first period oh-so-fun names like menarche. (Zzz)

Even the word ‘period’ has negative connotations. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Stop. Right now. Stop. You’re in your period. Stop. (It’s like an annoying telegram!)

Women, when you’re in ‘That Time of the Month’, what do you think of? Cramps? Bloating? For some reason, girls are taught from a very young age to fear and loathe getting their periods. They’re told that it’s messy, painful, and uncomfortable. Special over-the-counter medications like Midol have been formulated to help women get through it.

For many years, females have been ashamed of this normal bodily function. Instead of celebrating this, we’re taught to essentially hate it.

Miracle on Elm Street

In television commercials, we see people in lab coats pouring blue liquid over pads to show us how well they absorb.

There are also women who testify that they’re able to play sports and resume normal activities when they’re in their periods because of pads or tampons.

‘Period’ical

Many years ago pads were bulky…like wearing a pillow between your legs. Now they’re ultra thin and even come in petite, regular, and long  lengths. Tampons have transformed over the years, too, with a sleeker silhouette and with the invention of applicators.

Ever since I got my period and became a member of this ‘secret society’, I’ve noticed the packaging of pads and tampons. Years ago wrappers were usually pink. How stereotypically girly! Now, you might think that wrappers aren’t important. After all, you just throw them in the garbage anyway, right? Wrong. There’s been an evolution (and a revolution) that speaks volumes of a feminist movement.

After seeing pink and discrete wrappers all the time, I found it interesting when one day, Always started putting out pastel wrappers in non-traditionally feminine colours. Interesting! I sensed a change, and it was one I liked.

Rainbow Brite

Fast forward several years, Marty McFly. A few months ago, when I walked down the aisle for feminine-hygiene products in the pharmacy, something caught my eye. It was a rainbow. It was vibrant. It was U by Kotex.

Bright yellow, blue, pink, and green wrappers in fun boxes? They stand apart from their competitors because instead of trying to remain discreet, they’re flashing us!

Traditionally, talking about periods or drawing attention to your period isn’t very ladylike. I love how U by Kotex throws this out the window. (Not talking about something just leads to misunderstandings and even unnecessary fears.)

Check out the awesomely sarcastic 46-second U by Kotex commercial:

And here’s another goodie. At just 31 seconds, it does a great job at poking fun of absurd tampon commercials:

Fellow Canadians, you can get a free U by Kotex sample. (I requested mine.) And if you’re American, go here for the freebie.

What do you think about the U by Kotex commercials? Are you also intrigued with how this company took a blatant stand against commonly unchallenged gender stereotypes? Will you be supporting this by switching brands? Or do you think that it’s just another marketing strategy to make money and that it has no other agendas?

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5 responses to this post.

  1. I like the new U by Kotex commercials because they’re funny, mostly because they are pretty true as well. I like their idea of opening up the idea of menstruation in society. It’s ridiculous with how many obscene things happen around the world that are openly talked about or broadcast, yet when it comes to periods, we are such a hush-hush world about it. While I’m sure in some countries they are more open than others regarding the topic of periods, it is still a very taboo thing.

    I have always been a big proponent on guys being educated on menstruation, whether they are going to have menstrual cycles or not. As a heterosexual male, I believe it is important that we take the time to understand what females go through, especially if we plan on being with one or marrying one in the future. We also play a very important part in our female partner’s life – so why not be more involved and knowledgeable? It’s not going to kill us in any way. The whole reason why I created my blog was to really break the taboo of a MALE talking about menstruation and also, hopefully passing on practical/simple knowledge to them to help increase their understanding and openness of the topic.

    The bottom line is although I’m a fan of the “Break the Cycle” campaign and stuff, I also believe that they’re not “totally driven” by goodwill and changing the attitudes on menstruation, but rather, is a marketing ploy. By no means do I think it’s “wrong” because Kotex is out to MAKE MONEY, just like any other business… they’re just doing it in a way that is both “helpful” while being able to get “free publicity/stunt”. Looking at how many people have talked about the new “U” line and their new campaign, they’ve gotten better advertising than they could through professional services/media. Nevertheless, the products are definitely not amazing enough to pay a higher price compared to the original Kotex products.

    Reply

    • Posted by Mary Shaw on May 10, 2010 at 7:46 PM

      Thanks for weighing in on this issue (in such an articulate manner, too). I find your view very different and refreshing. It’s not every day that I come across a man who’s willing to try to understand a woman on that level. And I completely agree with you that instead of it being taboo for a guy to talk about menstruation, it would do men some good if they took the time to learn more about the opposite sex.

      I’ll be checking out your blog because it intrigues me to read the male perspective on periods. And I was wondering if you’d let me interview you and be in the spotlight for my “Featured Feminist” section. Every so often I’ll feature a feminist who may or may not be popular, but who has made a difference to bridge the gap between gender inequality. Not sure if you’ll check back to see this reply, so if I don’t hear from you in a week, I’ll e-mail you about this.

      Reply

      • I always check back to posts I’ve written just to see if the blog author or others have responded! I love connecting with other individuals, whether like-minded or not. After all, not everyone “agrees” with my ideas and the fact that men should be involved and knowledgeable of menstruation. I was very hesitant about starting my blog initially, but with the anonmity that the internet can provide, I felt it was easy enough to share my thoughts/perspectives without normal in-person societal repercussions.

        You have no idea the honour and privilege I feel right now to be asked to accept an interview! I would be more than happy to provide information you may require. I love to give my insight when it comes to menstruation (or even other things, lol), even if at times it is TMI, haha. Nevertheless, feel free to set up something with me by email or whatever method that would work well for you! I’m in EST (-5 GMT) time zone if that helps you with coordinating!

      • Posted by Mary Shaw on May 13, 2010 at 8:00 PM

        Okay, great! I’ll write up a bunch of questions and e-mail them to you later. Thanks for accepting! I’m so excited to hear your answers.

  2. I’m quite excited myself, lol.. I rather enjoy people asking me questions which invoke me to think XD Can’t wait to see it, mulling over my email every moment 😀

    Reply

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