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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.

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