In the 1500s, it was commonly believed that menstrual blood could cause fruit to fall from trees, make iron rust, it could kill crops, and cause dogs to become rabid. While these myths have been proven wrong, there are still a lot of false conceptions surrounding menstruation that society still adheres to. Myths like: you can’t get pregnant while you’re bleeding, that it’s possible for a tampon to get lost inside you, or that PMSing is made up and women are just acting out for attention. It is disturbing that women, as well as transgender and nonbinary people who menstruate, are paying a price for our natural functions because of a lack of societal knowledge surrounding females and reproductive health. Myths I should add, that only exist because of a history of a lack of women in roles of power.
There is a severe discrepancy between the percentage of the global population that is menstruating and the amount of knowledge that is accessible. Without information, and a language to explain it, it is impossible to be truly informed about what is happening to your body. Girls, natural bleeders, are told that when they get their period for their first time, they enter “womanhood” (Also! False gender construct! Just because you bleed, doesn’t mean you’re a woman!). But how are we to expect young bleeders that don’t understand the ramifications of their natural functions to become strong and competent adults who are able to take care of themselves? Not only that, but this transition can often be traumatic, and often because of the misunderstandings young bleeders hide their first periods, instead using rolled up toilet paper or destroying their underwear, instead of getting access to sanitary products that could prevent infection or worse.
This access to physical products is not available to most. Homeless bleeders, and bleeders below the poverty line cant afford the cost of menstrual products. This is because of a tax placed on sanitary products, deeming them as a luxury item. It is no luxury to deal with a heavy blood flow coming from an already overtly sexualized place, to have to stay home from school or work because of cramps that leave you immobile, to have migraines and headaches that prevent you from thinking, or to have uncontrollable mood swings, just to name a few symptoms. This Tampon-Tax refers to a state-sales tax that is put on menstrual products in 37 states, because tampons and pads are not considered a medical necessity. It is a medical necessity when bleeders are rendered unable to take care of themselves because of a once-a-month naturally occurring process that literally allows life to exist. Tampons should not be a prize. Pads should not be a prize. Everyone that needs it deserves access. If Fruit Roll-Ups get to be tax free, shouldn’t something much more necessary have the same rights?
If you are able to afford these products, you might notice that the boxes give no information about what is actually in pads, tampons, or other items. That is because it is not required for major companies to disclose this information. Bleeders leave tampons inside of them for hours, yet there is almost no research on the long-term or immediate health effects. Toxic shock syndrome is a very prevalent phenomenon that peaked in the 1970s when manufacturers created a super-absorbent tampon with out having a single study of the health effects—without understanding the internal exposure it has on the body. The only reason these were eventually remodeled is because of a 1980s New York Times article that revealed 63 women had died from toxic shock syndrome, out of the 642 women that had reported problems. Warning labels were then adhered to boxes, but we still don’t get to know the ingredients. Women and other bleeders should not have to die to know what they’re putting inside of themselves.
All of these issues stem back to the original misunderstanding of the female body. Without representation in major political conversations, direct needs are not being conveyed, and are ultimately ignored. Men, people who don’t themselves bleed, are the ones calling the shots on what information is accessible, and what products are affordable. In what world is that right? It is through this gender bias in our laws and society that bleeders are suffering, even dying. This is especially disturbing when you look at statistics and start to realize that the average bleeder has her/his/their period for 2,535 days of their lives. That’s almost 7 years of time where you have to consciously think about where to get access to supplies, and potentially miss opportunities that could better your situation.