By Ava Rognlien
Period poverty as a topic of conversation can often be brushed under the rug because talking about menstruation is not normal. It’s as if the word period has a big scarlet A on its chest! It’s difficult to successfully address period poverty and menstrual equity when as a society we can’t even successfully discuss the elephant in the room. I often think of how the mainstream media depicts menstruation, and it is no wonder we have perpetuated the shameful culture around periods for so long. If you’ve seen Carrie, the Horror movie, you know exactly what I mean. Even think about how the word, vagina, has been shifted into this word with so many negative connotations when it's really just a body part. So say it out loud right now, "vagina!" It's not a bad word!!
Menstrual inequality is seen across all countries, yet we have such a hard time talking about it. Misinformation is a huge part of this problem and this miseducation is actually extremely harmful to all menstruators. If we are not given the right tools to understand and talk about our bodies, we do not feel safe in our own bodies.
Through my research on period poverty, the first solution presented is usually to normalize menstruation by discussing periods with community. And at first, it didn't seem like direct concrete action, but after reflecting I realized how much our voices make a difference when enacting change. Especially in terms of education, it is so important to teach younger generations about menstrual equality to normalize what happens in menstruators' bodies. If you recall what you learned in sex ed or lack thereof, there are many ways we could reform sexual education to be more inclusive and not silence menstruators. It's also vital to educate non-menstruators, and ensure that everyone understands the natural process of menstruation. I know all too well, the tactics to hide my tampon on the way to the bathroom. Check out this website that celebrates period blood through artwork.
Having uncomfortable conversations is hard, but in order to shatter the taboo around periods we've got to start somewhere. This how to talk about menstruation article from Clue gives us some excellent ways to start those uncomfy conversations.
The more people that discuss menstruation, the more people can become aware of what we need to shift in terms of policy and culture to ensure equitable menstrual products for all. This guide from the ACLU provides a variety of tools for advocates and allies. It provides how to respond to common arguments, letters to legislators, and a general overview of menstrual equity!