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Menstrual product revolution

Menstrual activism

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Menstrual lib and the colour of menstrual products
Beech leaves
elettaria wrote in menstrual_lib
I recently posted a silly poll on menstrual_cups about the latest development in menstrual cups: cups in different colours. It brought out several women asking the same question. Why should we care what colour a menstrual cup is? Why are so many people feeling passionate about the issue? The discussion developed to cover menstruation taboos as well as the menstrual product industry in general. As I'm fascinated by gender, anthropology, and colour, I thought I'd explore this a little further. It's a bit like the question in the Vagina Monologues, "If your vagina were to go out, what would it wear?"

Anyone can reply, whatever menstrual product they use, whether they love their periods or hate them (or both at once), whether they are aching for a pink and purple marbled cup with spangles to be produced or think the whole idea is a lot of nonsense and the original versions are the best. For all questions, I'm not just interested in a simple answer, but also how you feel about the whole business, how you relate to it personally. If you have conflicting opinions, go on and explore them. Since the answers are likely to be long, please be kind to those of us with visual problems and put paragraph breaks between the sections!

1. What's your favourite colour? How do you feel about it? Do you feel it expresses your personality in any particular way?

2. If you could magically have a menstrual cup that looked however you want it to, how would it look, and why do you make that choice? I'm thinking of colour in particular, but if sparkles or stripes are your thing, tell us about that too.

3. Same question for cloth pads, if you've ever used them or plan to. If you already have cloth pads, how involved did you get with the fabric selection (e.g. the company picked a pattern for you at random and you didn't care, or you sent the pad-maker some of your own fabric to use)?

4. Do you feel you have ever been affected by taboos about menstruation, and if so, how?

5. What attitudes do you hold towards your own periods? How have these changed?

6. Have you found that taking up reusable menstrual products and/or joining an online community that discusses menstruation and menstrual products has changed how you feel about your periods, your body, feminism, or anything else, and if so, how?

7. How would you like to see menstrual products marketed? Do current marketing methods bother you at all?

Cross-posted to menstrual_cups.

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1. My favourite colour is currently turquoise. It varies a bit, as can be seen by my choice of computer wallpaper (which is currently blades of grass, and was an orange sunset before that), but it's usually something that reminds me of the natural world. It's a very vivid, vibrant colour, and there's a freshness about it, like breathing sea air. I sometimes find it invigorating, sometimes fodder for meditation, although the nearest I get to meditation is usually staring at colour in some form, often online window-shopping for quilt fabrics.

2. I'm still dithering over this. I've had cloth pads with blue and green on them before, and the blood produced an awful, dead colour, so I'm staying away from the blue spectrum. And I still can't bring myself to like pink because of the way it and little-girliness are forced down women's throats. I'm thinking orange. It's a colour I've only grown to love quite recently, and like turquoise, it's vibrant and joyous, making me think of orange flowers with the sunlight glowing through them. It's also more connected to the body than blues, if you look at chakra theory the blues are for around the head and oranges/reds relate to sexuality and the groin/belly area. Not that I believe in chakras, but I find some of the ideas sympathetic. In fact, I think an orange cup marbled with a bright, deep crimson would be my favourite. It would be something very personal for me, held within the most intimate part of my body, not for anyone else to see or use but making me grin once or twice a day. (Before anyone thinks I'm nutty on the subject, I should point out that I'm only getting a new cup because my current one irritates my urinary tract, and I'd decided on a Ladycup because of its size and softness before discovering they come in various colours. I am becoming increasingly obsessed with colour, though.)

3. I had to switch to pads a few months ago, and hated the fabrics most pad-makers were using. They usually ranged from the girly to the juvenile. Then I found Luna Wolf, who is using fabulous batik fabrics. I bought a pad or two, loved the quality, and ended up sending her some quilting fabric of my own to use for the rest of the fabric, all batik fabrics where I had more than I reckoned I'd be likely to use. The fabrics were generally orange-toned for the daytime pads and purple-toned for the nighttime ones, so that I could tell them apart easily, although I also find purple more restful and orange more cheering. The colours work well with reds and browns, and I tend to notice how the blood fits in with the fabric pattern, so that I feel I've got something pretty there, rather than something in clinical white which has been soiled and must be thrown away instantly. Considering that periods remain a nuisance in many ways and that I'm prone to migraine and depression around that time, it's good to have something that makes me grin.

4. I was raised Reform (UK) Jewish and ended up in a Liberal community. Neither denomination practices sexual segregation or menstruation taboos, so I have always found it shocking and disquieting on the occasions when I've been to an Orthodox synagogue or function. The odd thing is that I didn't know for years that the practice of seating men and women separately stems from the menstruation taboo. Many people don't, and a myth has grown up that it's to prevent people getting distracted by sex. Or rather, preventing men from thinking of sex, it's the women who get hidden away, evidently our sexuality doesn't matter. Either reason has the same effect on me: I am made to feel dirty and a source of pollution, and not worthy of having a voice in religious matters. In mainstream, secular society, the taboo is less evident, and mostly shows in the way that women are taught that menstruation is something we shouldn't discuss, while many men don't know much about it and end up making nervous bad jokes; the overall teaching is that menstruation is disgusting. It's something that only bothers me from time to time, but I still hope that the taboo will continue to be eroded.

Do you have sources for the origin of machitzot being menstrual taboos? It's just that I've heard other explanations and I'd find the menstrual taboo idea odd, given that niddah can't be passed on to men and most issues of tahar are a bit mute now that we don't have a temple. I mean women can go into the men's section if you're not praying, so it's not as if our menstruation is contaminating the sanctuary. There's no halacha against menstruating women touching Torahs.

As for Reform not practicing menstrual taboos, if that's your term for taharat hamishpacha then I certainly know Reform Jews who practice it in some form, including myself.

5. I have a love-hate relationship with my periods, like many women. I get really nasty PMS and menstrual migraine, no one likes those. On the other hand, I once spent a couple of years without periods, and realised that I missed them. Being cyclical is a fundamental part of who I am, and while I could do without the extremes, it doesn't feel right to me to be without a certain amount of fluctuation in my body and feelings every month.

6. I've found it liberating. It made me think more about my body and pay more attention to it, and my attitude towards my own bleeding became a little more positive. Using a menstrual cup makes periods far less of a nuisance, you can even have (non-penetrative) sex without the blood getting in the way. The self-discovery is what makes the online communities so interesting, it's great seeing women teaching themselves and helping each other to know their bodies better and to succeed over the bloody nuisance factor.

7. I'd love to see them marketed more openly, and with the attitudes you find on these sorts of online communities, ranging from realistic to joyous, rather than the coy euphemisms used at the moment which cover the message that menstruation is disgusting. There are jokes about how how using a tampon will make you able to ride, swim and do rock-climbing, for instance, and when I had to send my boyfriend out to get me some disposable pads a year ago during a UTI, he had a dreadful time telling them apart as they used flowers as some strange code for absorbency. And of course, I'd like to see reusable products becoming more popular. It would be great to walk into a mainstream shop and see a bright, colourful display of cups and pads in all colours and patterns.

1. I don't think I have a favourite colour. It used to be purple but I like lots of different colours and tones.

2. At first I was going to say clear whitish i.e. current Mooncup colour, but then I looked at the Ladycup website and started finding myself tempted. My main concern would be how good the colours looked after a few months of blood staining. Maybe purple to match my silicon sex toys.

3. Some of my cloth pads only came in one type of fabric and some of my pads were free samples so I didn't get to choose at all. A couple of my pads I chose from the range of fabric patterns the maker had pre-made.

4. Well, one of the most embarrassing moments of my life was when I was 12 and had just started secondary school and got a bit lost and asked a staff member how to get to where I was going to and as I walked away my disposable pad fell off onto the floor and the woman thought it was a sock and went to pick it up before realising what it was. You know, I couldn't even tell that story to anyone for years it was so embarrassing but now I'm not really bothered and am typing about it on the internet. Then again, I'm now the girl how is evangelical about reusable menstrual products and have painted in my menstrual blood. I probably wouldn't have done the menstrual painting if it weren't a taboo, I thought it would be an amusing thing to do and appal my friends with my hippy beatnikness.

5. At the moment I don't menstruate because of the form of contraception I use. I've sort of forgotten what menstruating was like. I probably won't menstruate again until I come off my current contraception to start a family, so when I think of my future menstruation I'm excited to think about it prospect of becoming a mother and the way I'll be able to practice the purification routines surrounding menstruation in preparation for the sacred act of conception. I remember the feeling I had when I immersed before my wedding, the excitement, holiness and eroticism of knowing that I was purifying myself to be ready to have sex with my husband. I couldn't help but smile, especially on the bus home thinking if only the other passengers knew.

6. I'm not sure. I've always been pretty open and laid back about this sort of thing. My menstrual cup made periods less hassle and it's made me talk about menstruation more because I'm evangelical about it.

7. I'd like to see menstrual products marketed in a matter of fact way, which doesn't shame women into buying products and isn't too coy to say what the product is for.

To answer your initial post before you started posting, it makes marketing sense to put out cups in different colors or designs. As consumers, we like choices. We like being able to pick things that are visually appealing and that suit us and that make us even more individualistic. Think about it: why should we care what color our toothbrushes are? Why aren't they just all white, or clear, or whatever's natural/cheap to produce? The simple answer is that if the options are out there, we're more excited to buy a toothbrush than if they all looked the same. Ooh, I can get this fun one with the unique curve and the purple sparkles! It suits me! What personality it has! For a while, before the newness wears off, it even makes it more fun to use the product. It's not necessary at all--but people like it and it will affect their buying habits.

1. Red. Ironically, the shade of red of the blood I pour out of my menstrual cup. I think it reflects my passion, intensity, and vibrancy.

2. It would depend on the kind of color. If it's a bland solid, not so cute, but if it was more pearly or something, then maybe I'd consider it. Probably a pearly blue.

3. Personally, I loved being able to pick which liner I bought, the pattern and color and material. If only white cotton had been available, that's what I would've bought, but yes, I admit it, it did make me want the product even more when I saw the different selections and got excited over which one was the prettiest. Does it matter what color fabric my blood pours onto, when no one but me will see it? Of course not. But picking something that fits me instead of a standard item makes me happy.

4. Slightly, but I got over it. The taboos I was mostly affected by were: Not supposed to talk about it, supposed to be embarrassed. It's gross to have sex on your period. These are all things I've had to overcome. From the beginning, though, I almost had to make myself feel what I was supposed to feel because I just didn't. For instance, I was ecstatic to get my period and I knew from peers that it was supposed to be a big pain. They all dreaded it--I was thrilled, particularly since I was 14 and a half and all my friends already had theirs. Even now I enjoy getting my period, and it's not something I can explain or expect others to understand.

5. See 4.

I'm not really interested in answering 6 or 7.

1. I don't have a favourite colour really, although I do fill my home with green. Colours have a very emotional effect on me. If I surround myself in a certain colour, I'm going to feel happier, more relaxed, or maybe anxious or depressed depending on that. For this reason, I'd love to have a menstrual cup that makes me feel happy when I look at it. Periods aren't easy to experience, but I'm finding that through the process of learning about bleeding herstory and through the use of cups & re-usable pads, my attitude towards my period has changed a lot. Consequently, I don't suffer as much when I bleed because I don't hate it anymore.

2. Someone mentioned clear yellow with rainbow sparkles - I'd love that, it sounds happy! I like the clear silicone too, but for some reason I'm really into the idea of a sparkly cup. Can't really justify it. I have a couple of silicone sex toys with sparkles in them and I think they're very pretty.

3. I've only used organic cotton, uncoloured pads. I like my bleeding rag to look like a rag, since, unlike the cup, it stains, gets worn and in general, looks like a rag. I'm fine with that, and I don't use pads often.

4. YES. I think that if there were no taboos around periods I would be able to say to my boss: "Boss, I'm not feeling well. Can I go home an finish this tomorrow?" After a few months, it would become apparent what the cause of my illness was, and I just can't do that now.

5. I used to hate my period. I hated that time when I wasn't "normal". In the last few years I've learned that I don't have to be "normal" all the time, and in fact, all month long I'm going through a varying phase of normal. Being more sensitive around my period IS normal. I accept myself more for how my personality cycles, and I'm much happier for it. Cutting myself some slack has made a big difference.

6. Yes. I found out about menstrual cups & cloth pads from my friends, but I would never have been able to succeed with cup usage without the menstrual cup community. I'm so glad it exists because using cups has made a huge difference in my life.

7. "Have a happy period!" pisses me off. Don't tell me what kind of period to have. Yes, I see the irony. :)

I really hate the pads & tampons section of grocery & drug stores. It's HUGE. Compared to my teeny cup that's going to last me many years, all those disposable pads & tampons look like horrible bleached waste. It bugs me that the majority of women still believe they need these disposable products, and so many of these products are centered around hiding the fact that we're bleeding so we can pretend everything is "normal". Perhaps some of this angst linked to me feeling duped by the disposable product industry for so many years.

I just started looking into using a cup and am wondering how it is when changing from pads. I've used tampons once but never have and am wondering if using a cup would be the same or easier. I'm a little worried that I'll buy one and then not be able to use it. Any thoughts?

the whole thing is silly

I think the whole thing is kind of silly. I like having my period, but I don't care what color my pads are since they are going to be bled on. don't get me completley wrong, I wouldn't mind pads with pretty designs on them, but since I just started using cloth, and have a tight budget I'm limited.

The whole thing with color on cups seems pointless, since it's going to be inside of you anyways and it's job is collecting blood. It's not like you're going to take it to work, pull it out and say, "Hey I got a new moon cup, it's blue!"

First off, not many people (at least where I'm from) have even heard of the moon cup or are aware that people still make cloth pads. In fact, when it comes to periods in general, it's only talked about amongst women, and men will leave the room (which shows a lot of immaturity, I think).

I really wish that society in general would be more open about the subject, because periods are normal for women and getting them is (to me, anyways) a sign of health and fertility. Natures pregnancy test, when I get mine it's like, "Yay, I'm not pregnant right now!"

But I suppose there are some people in this world who need every single thing in their lives customized, and companies can make money on that. I also wish that more people in this world wouldn't cringe at the thought of cups or cloth pads.

"You have to touch the blood with your hands." They whine.

"Not if you do it right," I want to tell them, "besides, what are the odds of you getting poop under your fingernails when you wipe yourself? Pretty good, huh? And then when you wash your hands it goes away."

I'm so sick of close-minded views on things having to do with reproduction and periods. I invite the Red Ghost every month, and bear with the bloading, cramps, and stuff, knowing that I'm healthy and still fertile.

1. What's your favourite colour? How do you feel about it? Do you feel it expresses your personality in any particular way?

My prefered color changes depending on my overall mood. Some days i feel pink other times blue, lately ive been feeling purple :). I like that my color changes with my mood, i feel better suited and it gives me variety.

2. If you could magically have a menstrual cup that looked however you want it to, how would it look, and why do you make that choice? I'm thinking of colour in particular, but if sparkles or stripes are your thing, tell us about that too.

Hmm i think i would have to have them in multiple colors/patterns. As i said my preferance changes with my mood. I think good old plain purple and cotton candy pink are good standby's. They are pretty colors, sweet almost and i need that when im on my period its somehow comforting to see something pretty in all the yuck. For patterns i like tone on tone marble, sparkly fireworks would be really cool and festive :), maybe flowers i havent decided if i would want that on my cup..... Oh but little chocolate bon bons on a frosted but clear cup would be awesome!

3. Same question for cloth pads, if you've ever used them or plan to. If you already have cloth pads, how involved did you get with the fabric selection (e.g. the company picked a pattern for you at random and you didn't care, or you sent the pad-maker some of your own fabric to use)?

I just started using cloth pads and i made them at home before deciding to invest (which i plan to do). All i had were old T-shirts, sheets, and towels so nothing pretty or interesting. They are a nice periwinkle with shiny matching stitching.

I really want to make some with patterns while i wait to have the money to order (Im still fiddling with my patterns). I think moons would be cute, or food items, hearts would be great, also cute things like rubber duckies :D. Im not usually one for cutsie things but well im the only one who is going to see it and i need something to cheer me up! There are so many fun possibilities, though i think i will stick to plain backing. Knowing myself i would put them on upsidedown (i want to waterproof my next batch) :p.

4. Do you feel you have ever been affected by taboos about menstruation, and if so, how?

Oh yeah. Here the media teaches you that while your persiod shouldnt stop you you really shouldnt aknowledge it either (positivly anyway). Your period is a disposable hassle. You can stop it or regulate it with hormones, use internal protection so you dont have to feel or see it (ok i am partial to internal but you get the point), and you really shouldnt talk aout it unless your on it.

5. What attitudes do you hold towards your own periods? How have these changed?

I used to be of the "its a disposable hassle" group. I wanted to put it a tampon not think about it for 6 hours, do it again, then come home shower slap on a pad and go to sleep so i dont have to deal till morning. I wanted to be far away from my blood, i hated seeing it. Four years ago the thought of scrubbing a cloth pad would have been a HUGE "Ewwwww!" moment.

Then i got older and developed a better sense of my body and myself which lead me away from mainstream things like medication, chemicals, and quick fixes. Then i developed alot of health problems which made me even more aware and as soon as i was able i got back on the "health/hippy" bandwagon.

My health forced me to change my diet, stay away from artificial additives in food and cosmetic items and reconsider how my persiod affected the larger picture. After getting rid of everything else toxic or disposable in my life (including people) i felt the need to extend that to my period. 7 - 10 days of disposables filled with non renewable/recyclable resources is alot of waste. I prefer to keep things simple and that ment changing to resusable products that for the most part can even be recycled (if they arent already made from recycles material as well!) after im done. Ok img oing to quit rambling now...next :p!

Opps gotta split it!

6. Have you found that taking up reusable menstrual products and/or joining an online community that discusses menstruation and menstrual products has changed how you feel about your periods, your body, feminism, or anything else, and if so, how?

Well i sort of "discovered" cloth pads on a message board. Even though i obviously knew disposables werent always available and alot of less developed countried rely on them for their main source of protection i didnt quite connect that to me being able to use them. Once i figured out that it was an easy, enviornmentally minded option i could even make at home i was sold....well except for gettin gover that touching blood thing lol but that didnt last long :). I think i kind of covered everything else above ;)

7. How would you like to see menstrual products marketed? Do current marketing methods bother you at all?

Yes! As i mentioned above marketing tells us that our period is a disposable hassle and to deal with it in the least ivasive way possible even if that means damaging the earth. I would lke to see more alternatives out there. Heck there are more alternatives that mainstream! Mainstream is different shaped pads in different sizes and tampons of different absorbancies. In alternative we have cloth pads with patterns, color, adjustable absorbtion, shapes, sizes and so many other options, cups in every shape, size, and price (colors too), and cant forget sponges or other alternatives to tampons (like baby socks! lol). And even those are just the typical alternative methods! Gee i think that was an oxymoron.... :p?

I want to see people have options thats the bottom line. I also want to see ALOT more enviornmentally minded marketing, even if its for disposables. Every step helps and you cant start till you have the knowledge :).

Good post :D thanks!

1. I like different colors, but I'm particularly fond of chartreuse-- there's something about the way it stands out against other colors that appeals to me.

2. Florals. I'd like a cup that had flower patterns on it, in just one or many colors-- it doesn't matter, primroses would be cute or magnolias.

3. Same as above. I have a lot of control over this part because I sew my own pads and liners so I look for fabrics with flowers, the more mod or retro the better.

4. Not really.

5. I was ambivalent about my periods for many years. In someways I still am, but I do appreciate them much more. I try to use my menstrual cycle as a reminder to be more creative (something I don't always make time for otherwise) and now I look forward to my period.

6. Yes. I don't feel so alone and alien. I live in a rural town where few would dare to wear cloth pads let alone openly discuss them (or display them as I do at local craft fair-- it's encouraging to discuss things openly without the other people involved saying "Oh" and "Ew" and look at me like I've grown a second head. To give credit where it's due it was my son that found the communities here on LJ that I've joined.

7. I'd like to see menstrual products marketed without shame or apologies. I'm so sick of phrases like "Discrete protection from embarrassing leaks" and "internal protection you can trust" It's sloughed off endometrium with a bit of blood, not alien blood that eats through metal floors, do I really need to be protected from it? I'll say that's my one disappointment with some cup and cloth pad vendors is that they offer "protection" (seriously, my uterus is not harboring some kind of mob henchman that's going to come out my vagina and break my knees if I don't pay up every 28 days), ditto for words "control", "manage" and "handle"

Even if the vernacular sounds a bit cheesy (or forced) some positive associations would be good, words like "celebrate", "welcome" and "embrace" appeal much more to me than "discrete protection"

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