Written By: Kimberly Davis
Yes, this is yet another period piece. But while I’m comfortable talking about periods, did you know that menstrual cycles still remain a taboo subject in most countries? Including the United States.
People who menstruate each month have long since been taught to be ashamed or keep quiet about this naturally occurring process. At pool parties, someone may sit on the sidelines because they “feel sick”, or they may run to the bathroom to “fix their makeup”. All of these reasons pop up to avoid saying the truth: “I have my period”.
Menstrual taboos exist all around the world, and these taboos often hold people back from education, work, and more.
During the 2016 Olympics in Rio, swimmer Fu Yuanhui announced that she was on her period when she swam and she revealed a major misconception about periods in her country. After Yuanhui’s comment, the Guardian reported that many in China took to social media to say that they were unaware that someone was able to swim while menstruating without leaving blood in the pool.
Why is this? Because tampons are rare in China due to health concerns around them, and the notion that using a tampon means someone is no longer a virgin since the tampon will tear the hymen. Of course, an intact hymen is not a sign of virginity, and there should be no shame attached to having sex. This taboo runs so deep, that in 2015, no tampons were manufactured in China but 85 billion pads were produced in the country.
More than 137,000 girls in the UK missed school in 2017 due to the lack of affordable menstrual products. According the Always (the menstrual product company), 7% of girls will skip school because of their period or because of a lack of correct menstrual products. Beyond not having the correct products girls in the UK also wear. what few products they do have, for longer than they should putting their health at risk.
Ah, the good ol’ luxury tax. As of 2018, some states still tax menstrual products under the “luxury tax”. This tax is often applied to items that aren’t a necessity, and are instead a luxury, will be taxed as such and will not be exempt, while items such as food and some medications are tax free. Menstrual products are a big part of many people's lives (certainly a big part of mine), and the cost of them often prevent some from accessing them. People like the homeless, who will be faced with either spending what little money they do have on food or pads.