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"When I See the Blood..."
March 2, 2004 9:16 AM   Subscribe

"Urban Armor," or "kickass alternative menstrual gear." Project of a "fight the power" type activist-feminist movement against industrial distortions of menstrual culture. (No surprise, I suppose, that I saw links to this on flyers at an art college.) Previous MeFi discussion on "menstrual culture" here. And when the monthly flow has ceased, other forms of kickass alternative gear are available.
posted by brownpau (78 comments total)

 
I'm all for redefining menstruation in positive terms, but the artwork on this gear is so tired. Squiggly drawings of women in big boots no longer stir in me feelings of righteously appropriated power, but rather with disgust at the lack of creativity. Given how out-of-date the artwork it is, I find this product line cynical and exploitative.
posted by squirrel at 9:25 AM on March 2, 2004


I'm disgusted
posted by mert at 9:30 AM on March 2, 2004


There's no demographic so alternative that it doesn't become just "a demographic" soon enough.
posted by clevershark at 9:33 AM on March 2, 2004


I consider myself a feminist, but I don't get the whole "menstrual culture" thing. I mean, menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of but I don't think it's a manifestation of my connection with the Moon Goddess either. It's just a design flaw.
posted by JoanArkham at 9:33 AM on March 2, 2004


I'm all for redefining menstruation in positive terms,...

Why? I'm not saying it should be stigmatized, but come on, it's a boring body function. Every female mammal mestruates. I don't see why it needs to be ennobled. Taking a dump is a natural function of life as well, but I don't see some buncha twits with too much time on their hands coming up with new fecal accessories, let alone "poop culture."
posted by jonmc at 9:35 AM on March 2, 2004


Good point, you don't see "urine gangs" roaming the street in the hours of darkness either :-)
posted by clevershark at 9:36 AM on March 2, 2004


It strikes me as marketing drivel. Clevershark and squirrel nailed my impressions of the product. I menstruate, and I don't understand the urge to "celebrate" the event either. Frankly, I'd prefer that someone just pass me the vicodin and leave me alone.
posted by dejah420 at 9:41 AM on March 2, 2004


Design flaw, Joan? I LIKE the fact that my uterus cleans itself out when no baby shows up to use all that food and bedding. It's like a monthly "big trash" pickup for my body. I think of it as a design feature.

That said, you don't see me wearing a big silver labrys or these cheesy panties.
posted by pomegranate at 9:48 AM on March 2, 2004


(No pun intented on the cheesy panties.)
posted by pomegranate at 9:48 AM on March 2, 2004


I was actually doing some surfing on behalf of my daughter, who just started having her moon. So I offer this to the discussion in the spirit of, um, well fun, I guess.
posted by Danf at 9:55 AM on March 2, 2004


"Y'know, the trouble with puberty is that it robs people of their childhood-"

"-That's true. But on the plus side, it creates a new consumer demographic."
"Have you got anything we can market?"

"Oh, I'll think of something..."
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:56 AM on March 2, 2004


In all seriousness, I really want to hear from a woman who has used one of those keeper cups. I can't even imagine what an experience that must be.
posted by archimago at 9:56 AM on March 2, 2004


But wouldn't it be better if the lining never built up in the first place, unless you were pregnant? Too bad DepoProvera made me crazy, or I'd still be blissfully period-free. (Sorry for the TMI...)
posted by JoanArkham at 9:58 AM on March 2, 2004


for more culture, also see: menstrual dreamer (nsfw)
posted by Hackworth at 10:01 AM on March 2, 2004


I have heard several positive reports on the Keeper. I had an American friend in Germany that had been using one for years and loved it.

From the makers website.
posted by jopreacher at 10:05 AM on March 2, 2004


urine gangs
I am not.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:12 AM on March 2, 2004


Instead of flushing your blood down the toilet, you can dilute your cupful in a jugful of water and make a wonderful, natural fertilizer for your plants. You may want to select a special watering can for this magic brew and try it once a month. Sincerely, you will notice your plants get very perky!

Mmm, taste the pathogens...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:12 AM on March 2, 2004


I agree with JoanArkham about menstruation as design flaw. In fact, there's evidence that the fewer menstrual cycles you have, the better.

And consider me another feminist who thinks all this sisters-of-the-moon hokum is annoying and tired. I'd rather eat broken glass than wear a handmade reusable menstrual pad.

Though I would like to see the smashing of the Tampon Monopoly, and would be willing to lead a Tampon Liberation Army if anyone's interested.
posted by cowboy_sally at 10:12 AM on March 2, 2004


I've heard people rave about the Keeper, but I don't leave foreign objects in my body, thanks.
posted by agregoli at 10:17 AM on March 2, 2004


I think these kinds of things promote acceptance of your natural body functions, which is good. You've gotta be in touch with your body to use them, and perhaps it'll help you understand your rhythms better by being more aware of what your body is up to. That said, if you go the sea-sponge route, be sure not to sneeze. For real, yo. ;) (also, I recently noticed pantiliners for thongs at a London grocery store -- how could those possibly be effective?)
posted by fotzepolitic at 10:17 AM on March 2, 2004


"That's why the woman I shall love will be able to menstruate as fully and freely as she desires. Even if her monthly flow should build in intensity to a raging rust colored torrent! An unbridled river of life giving blood flowing from between her legs! An awesome cataract plunging off the edge of our couch. I wouldn't be fazed! No, no, even if coureur de bois would come up stream, battling the rapids, and singing a 'jaunty song'! I would take no offense, rather I would ford across that mighty womanly river, and fetch herbal tea and Pamprin. And then I would mop her brow and admire her fecundity. For I...Have A Good Attitude....Towards MENSTRUATION!"
-KITH
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:19 AM on March 2, 2004


In all seriousness, I really want to hear from a woman who has used one of those keeper cups. I can't even imagine what an experience that must be.

Okay! I didn't like The Keeper brand menstrual cup very much. It never felt very comfortable (the stem part of the cup always irritated my bits a little) and it always leaked a little, no matter what. I did, however, order a Diva Cup (which I read about here on MeFi) which is made of a different material and has a slightly different design. I also apparently aged out of the smaller sized cup, so I'm hoping that the larger size plus the design differences will make my Diva Cup experience better than my Keeper experience. I am due to start my period on Monday, so I'll be sure to keep any interested MeFites posted.

I do, however, love my Glad Rags and hate the occasional times that I have to resort to disposable pads. It always feels like plastic strapped against my crotch. I guess that's because it more or less is plastic strapped against my crotch. I'm hoping that the Diva Cup works and that I never have to use disposable pads again.

(I don't like tampons--just personal preference--in case anyone suggest them as a alternative.)

On preview: The blood thing does work for plants, or at leat the house plants I have used it on. And I don't think of myself as a moon-goddess type, either, or paint with my menses or anything. If you met me on the street you'd never guess I'm a Glad Rag girl.
posted by jennyb at 10:19 AM on March 2, 2004


When I was at NYU there was a girl on my floor who made horrible paintings with her menstrual fluids. By that I mean that she was a terrible artist, not that painting with her own blood was inherintly horrible.

I think, ultimately, that the only message her "outrageous method" conveyed was what fotzepolitic said- that because so few people understand exactly how menstruation and its cycles work (and I'll admit, I'm a man who's totally ignorant of most of the details) we are, just like homosexuality and Islam and Japanese culture and a whole bunch of other things we don't understand from lack of knowledge, confused and/or unsettled by it.

I don't think the girl meant that kind of subconscious mockery of ignorance in her work- like 90% of the art in this world that is self-serving garbage, she wanted to be one of the several hundred thousand "artists" who ironically were staking a claim to "unique individuality" as if that let her get away with having no talent. But her work reminds me of what jonmc said up above- if everything she made was done in feces instead of vaginal blood, there would be no sense of discomfort- everyone would have just seen it as- no pun intended- shitty.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:29 AM on March 2, 2004


jonmc say "Every female mammal mestruates."

this page say: "there are approximately 270 different different species of primates. Only thirty-one species of primates menstruate."

Here's the full quote:

"Biologists estimate that there are between ten million and thirty million different species of life-forms on earth today. Of these, four thousand are mammals. Only one among the four thousand experiences significant blood loss on a regular basis. If conception does not occur, a fertile human female sheds the lining of her uterus along with approximately forty to eighty milliliters (several tablespoons) of blood every four weeks. A few other mammals--for example, hedgehogs, bats, shrews and elephants--show signs of menses, but for all of them it is a relative nonevent. Primatologist Alison Jolly estimates that there are approximately 270 different different species of primates. Only thirty-one species of primates menstruate. All of these but one, a human, lose an insignificant quantity of blood."
posted by ericost at 10:32 AM on March 2, 2004


Um, painting with menstrual fluids? Excuse me while I go and vomit. What's next, Moon Goddess Monthly Spirit Gargle?

Its waste. Same with urine, same with poo. Dispose of it, don't celebrate it.

By the way, a friend has the Keeper and is absolutely mad for it. She says she'd never go back to anything else.
posted by fenriq at 10:40 AM on March 2, 2004


All of these but one, a human, lose an insignificant quantity of blood.

Yep. Design Flaw.
posted by JeffK at 10:43 AM on March 2, 2004


Sorry, woodsy owl, my bad.

My point still stands. It's a body function like sneezing or farting. It requires neither stigmatization nor ennoblement.To practice either of those is a sign of either weird body phobias or serious megalomania.
posted by jonmc at 10:46 AM on March 2, 2004


do read the link that cowboy_sally posted if you have the time, it's a fascinating story. It also reminds me of this finding published last year, that women don't necessarily ovulate once per month:

The team carried out daily, high resolution trans-vaginal ultrasound examinations on 63 women with normal menstrual cycles who were aged between 18 and 40. Over six weeks, the women's individual follicles were measured.

During the study, 50 of the women ovulated only once, but six ovulated twice and seven not at all. The next stage of the research will be to find out why some waves lead to ovulation while others do not.

posted by badstone at 10:47 AM on March 2, 2004


I do not understand women who hate tampons. Thank god for tampons. Specifically, thank god for OBs, which are well designed to actually absorb in a spiral through the whole tampon, not just randomly in splotches down the side or something. If tampons regularly dry you out, you're probably using a size too large for your flow.

I imagine women started this whole bloodsisters / moon goddess nonsense in the modern world because periods have been somewhat stigmatized, being a generally unpleasant waste excretion process that only women go through. Everybody poops, as that children's book explained in order to show that poop, even though it's yucky, is okay. Menstrual blood is yucky, and not everybody does it; only grown women (so implicitly maybe it's not okay, maybe women are dirty, etc).

What I think is interesting is the idea that in the future women won't have periods, that the technology will get better, the side effects lessen, and eventually women will get a shot or whatever so they won't be fertile, and then get another one, or whatever, when they decide they want to have a baby. No accidental pregnancies, no blood and mood swings and all the rest of that - but in a way it almost feels like we'd lose something - not something worth keeping, really, but something nonetheless. It's weird how fixing things sometimes makes them less interesting somehow... I dunno. Like in the future people probably won't need glasses - they'll get laser eye surgery and be done with it. And that's great, but there's something about glasses I would miss. I know, I'm writing from a time when these are part of my life, so losing them would seem noticable; people in the future would find it less of an issue, the way most modern people don't mourn the loss of the horse-drawn carriage, or candlelight. That is, we'd get used to it, and appreciate the convenience.
posted by mdn at 10:53 AM on March 2, 2004


Though I would like to see the smashing of the Tampon Monopoly, and would be willing to lead a Tampon Liberation Army if anyone's interested.

I don't know what any of this means, but count me in!!!
posted by subgenius at 11:05 AM on March 2, 2004


Somewhat recent MeFi thread on the Keeper (and it's competitor, the Diva Cup) with a lot of personal testimony here.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:06 AM on March 2, 2004


I see menstruation differing from urination, etc. only in a cultural way. Biologically, it's the same; I agree with most of you.

But only women menstruate, and the act is therefore very political. Political in that the way we construct its meaning in the gender identity negotiation expresses values that ultimately influence policy.

Put another way, because we live in a gender-polarized world, the issue of menstruation cannot be removed from the larger discussion of gender identity. So I can't support dismissing it as signifying no more than urination.

I generally like portraying menstruation as a positive icon of womanhood. In the context of institutionalized, virtually global misogyny, female iconic self-empowerment seems like a good idea.
posted by squirrel at 11:07 AM on March 2, 2004


But these particular products suck, nonetheless.
posted by squirrel at 11:07 AM on March 2, 2004


I always see this on the "feminine products" shelf at the store. While I have never been tempted to purchase it, I am slightly tempted by the free sample offer. However, the worst case scenarios keep running through my mind and I can't help but think that if this really was a practical solution, I would have it chatter about it in places other than Metafilter.
posted by necessitas at 11:10 AM on March 2, 2004


I knew someone who referred to her rather heavy monthly period as -- and I kid you not -- "blorting."
posted by brownpau at 11:12 AM on March 2, 2004


squirrel, I don't buy that. First of all "act" implies volition, and menstruation just happens. It's a bodily process that existed long before politics.

But only women menstruate, and the act is therefore very political.

And only men have penises. Does that make peeing standing up political? I understand that menstruation is a part of being a woman. In sixth grade they showed all us guys a movie. I have a mother and three sisters. I've had a few girlfreinds. I am familiar with menstruation and all the equipment pertaining thereto. I imagine most post-adolescent men in the civilized world can say the same. Politicization of this is needless.

Ultimately, all this stuff is basically harmless tomfoolery, but it's tomfoolery nonetheless.
posted by jonmc at 11:23 AM on March 2, 2004


actually I have two sisters. brainfart, sorry.
posted by jonmc at 11:24 AM on March 2, 2004


because we live in a gender-polarized world, the issue of menstruation cannot be removed from the larger discussion of gender identity. So I can't support dismissing it as signifying no more than urination

Especially when men describe a less-than-demure woman as being on the rag or having her time of the month.
posted by archimago at 11:27 AM on March 2, 2004


I've got to say, the female urination phallus seems like an accident waiting happen. Something tells me it is does not work as flawlessly as the entertaining instructional animation would have us believe.
posted by necessitas at 11:32 AM on March 2, 2004


on the rag or having her time of the month

Do men actually use those phrases? Maybe I travel in more refined circles than I realize, but I don't think I've ever heard them in a non-ironic way.
posted by 4easypayments at 11:39 AM on March 2, 2004


And only men have penises. Does that make peeing standing up political?

jonmc, I would argue that the penis is indeed political: it's an object around which a large part of male identity is formed. You and I probably have different criteria for what makes a happening or object political, which is fine by me.

(Your point about "act" implying volition is a subject for an interesting debate, but one that I don't think this thread requires.)

4easypayments, believe me, menstruation continues to be used as a way to degrade and confine women. You're lucky to have avoided some of the work environments I've inhabited. Many "jokes" betray the real fear and disgust that our society projects onto women.
posted by squirrel at 11:44 AM on March 2, 2004


What I think is interesting is the idea that in the future women won't have periods, that the technology will get better, the side effects lessen, and eventually women will get a shot or whatever so they won't be fertile, and then get another one, or whatever, when they decide they want to have a baby. No accidental pregnancies, no blood and mood swings and all the rest of that - but in a way it almost feels like we'd lose something - not something worth keeping, really, but something nonetheless.

``Even the Queen,'' by Connie Willis, deals with exactly this issue from the point of view of the first or second generation of women who didn't normally have periods. It's funny.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:46 AM on March 2, 2004


Political in that the way we construct its meaning in the gender identity negotiation expresses values that ultimately influence policy.

That is either obscenely witty or profoundly stupid.

I'm not entirely sure which.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:46 AM on March 2, 2004


Men do indeed use the phrase "on the rag" and the like to refer to a less than perfectly happy woman, and quite frequently. Ask any woman you know - I'm sure they've heard it referred to them at least once. And it makes us mad, as it's a very unfair and ignorant thing to say.
posted by agregoli at 12:03 PM on March 2, 2004


Care to make an argument, or just snark and run? Let me know if you want clarification, Ynoxas. Most people don't think in these terms; I do mostly because I spend so much time studying gender and identity.
posted by squirrel at 12:04 PM on March 2, 2004


If we want to eliminate discourse such as "on the rag" and "time of the month", we need to educate women first to stop saying "I'm PMS-ing" and the like to excuse their own behavior. I know it's a true medical condition for some, but not for most of us. As long as I'm babbling about education, I cannot believe the number of men and women who think they can't, or just plain won't, have sex when a woman is menstruating. So yeah, I think the whole issue is worth talking about - relevant.
posted by rainbaby at 12:11 PM on March 2, 2004


I personally never use those phrases, and think they should be eliminated. And I've had sex several times during my period.
posted by agregoli at 12:14 PM on March 2, 2004


(Menstrual art is *so* 1994 Whitney Biennial.)

Seriously, though. There's nothing intrinsically political about a biological function. People make it political. Raising awareness and being more open about something as mundane as menstruation is, IMO, a very good idea. But the tie-dyed goddess candle-anointing/anarchosyndicalist silk-screening crowds make it seem like any woman who's open about her period is a fruitcake. That's exactly what I don't want people to believe.

And I agree with rainbaby. It's not just men who are uptight and parochial about menstruation. It's women themselves. We need to cut that shit out.
posted by cowboy_sally at 12:15 PM on March 2, 2004


Yeah, but once again, it's talking about a bodily function, which no one seems to be good at.
posted by agregoli at 12:18 PM on March 2, 2004


"on the rag or having her time of the month..."

Do men actually use those phrases?


Yes, a lot. As a sometimes grouchy/loudmouthed woman, I have often been told that my problem was either that I was "on the rag" [or insert crabby euphemism of choice] or that all I needed was a good fuck. I am serious. Neither assertion was true.

I think one of the problems with menstruation as a cultural phenomenon is that some people understand it, medically and socially, and some people don't. And, since people tend not to talk about it openly, it can be hard for people without solid information to learn more about it. I see it more as an analog to gay pride. Taking something that was formerly horribly stigmatized and try to make it a more positive thing. Of course, some people go overboard, but in general it helps random observers see the topic of discussion as fair game to talk about and not be ashamed of.

Jonmc, you seem to know what's up w/r/t menstruation, at least physically, but I know a lot of men my age who either don't understand it, or just generally have a negative/icky/taboo feeling about it. Or who just say "Why do you want to talk about THAT?!" when I bring it up as some sort of conversational tangent. I know very few men who can have a relaxed conversation about tampons, PMS, or ovulation without getting a little green around the gills and looking like they desperately wish to be someplace else.

Similar to the "fart in bed" discussion in Ask Metafilter [and the more recent inverted-yoga-while-having-your-period question] people have vastly different conceptions of what menstruation means to them, much less what it's all about, so it can be useful to talk about it once in a while. That said, these products are not something I would ever use, but then again I roll my own. Nice post, brownpau.
posted by jessamyn at 12:21 PM on March 2, 2004


Especially when men describe a less-than-demure woman as being on the rag or having her time of the month.

Personally, I've only ever heard women use these phrases about each other in recent memory. Maybe its because I live in San Francisco or maybe its because its just because the women I'm friends with are all pretty tough, realistic types who can actually admit without shame that they are not tip-top during their period and that they don't expect other women to be either. Maybe it's a bit like black people caling each other "nigga", and by taking ownership of these phrases, they are empowered.
posted by badstone at 12:29 PM on March 2, 2004


But when someone uses this term about another woman, it's dismissive. That's why I hate it. If I have a valid complaint and concern and I'm told it's just a hormonal issue I'm having, I get pissed. That's unfair and I don't have to like it. Also, I hate when women pass issues off on their periods or being hormonal. Sometimes it might be a contributing factor - most of the time I hear it, it's an excuse.
posted by agregoli at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2004


Like jessamyn, I was thinking about the fart-in-front-of-my-girlfriend post in AskMe too. I was absolutely floored that there are grown men who've never farted in front of their wives/significant others. Why are people so damned uptight? We evacuate and eliminate. We're human.

We've come a long way from the menstrual huts but not *that* long, I guess. I appreciate anyone who wants to talk more openly about menstruation, and as a society we owe it to ourselves (and our kids) to do so. But I fear that websites and products such as the ones mentioned in the post just propagate society's misperception that women in touch with their bodies=lunatic fringe. I'd like to see tampons advertised thus:

[fade in on a box of tampons]
Announcer: "You get your period. Deal with it. These come in three sizes."
[fade out]

I hate when men insinuate that angry or emotional women are "on the rag." But clearly these men have anger issues stemming from their inordinately tiny penises.
posted by cowboy_sally at 12:42 PM on March 2, 2004


I know very few men who can have a relaxed conversation about tampons, PMS, or ovulation without getting a little green around the gills and looking like they desperately wish to be someplace else.

Well, at least some of that is gonna be because there is really no way for us to relate. We can't imagine what it's like to ovulate or bleed from an orifice monthly because we don't have those parts. Just like you ladies can't imagine what erections, ejacualtions, jock itch, or a kick in the nuts is like. It's an unbridgeable divide.

As far as talking about it goes most mens concern with it basically centers around conceiving children or the avoidance thereof and/or our partners health. Which we should all know about and be comfortable with. Other than that it's not much of a concern to us. This stuff seems more along the lines of "let's hang our used tampoons from the Xmas tree as a symbol of our godessness," which just makes it all look silly.

I cannot believe the number of men and women who think they can't, or just plain won't, have sex when a woman is menstruating.

That's just dumb. But you can get weird around that too. A biker-type buddy of mine once referred to oral sex on a menstruating woman as "gettin' his red wings."

It's a weird world.
posted by jonmc at 12:44 PM on March 2, 2004


I have my period every 23 days and it is horrible and i need two days off during it.

When my superiors at work become comfortable with me explaining that I 'have' dysmenorrhea, and give me adequate time off, in my view everything will be ok.

The menstrual cycle isn't like pooing or farting because you menstruate for DAYS straight and it can be seriously debilitating.

[On preview]
I have had a lot of women tell me that menstrual pain was imagined and that if I were to get in touch with my inner goddess then it would basically go away. That is just dumb, and really dismissive of differences.

Also, most women have no idea when they are ovulating.
posted by goneill at 12:56 PM on March 2, 2004


it cuts both ways though. some women are downright abusive when they are having their periods and then the next day they get to dismiss it. it's the women's equivalent to the "boys will be boys" excuse for the inexcusable. the real problem is, that the variation in intensity from woman to woman is so great. agregoli wants her period to be ignored as a social factor so she doesn't feel "dismissed". other women appreciate it if you take their period into account when you deal with them. (on preview, like goneill.) since society in general has such a difficult time talking about periods out loud (in the same way that we have trouble talking about how good or bad today's pooping went), women inevitably have a hard time establishing with those around them how they want to be dealt with.
posted by badstone at 12:58 PM on March 2, 2004


I guess, so everyone's different, so there's no changing the attitudes.
posted by agregoli at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2004


I guess, so everyone's different, so there's no changing the attitudes.


Well, maybe there should be some kinda modern ettiquette book for this sort of thing. We should be able to talk about this stuff when neccessary, but there's a time and place for everything.

I'll never forget, back in my bookstore days, when a female co-worker standing next to me at the info desk, apropros of nothing, said in a stoner drawl: "I havin' a reealy nasty period!" After blinking a few times, I asked her, "Excuse me, but are we sleeping together?" "No," she said. "Then why are you telling me this?" She also would occasionally discuss cases of diarhhea too.

Listen to your inner dialogue, people.
posted by jonmc at 1:16 PM on March 2, 2004


Yes, women may occasionally be controlled by their hormones. However, at least we aren't the only ones. Almost everyone knows a guy who 'thinks with the little head,' to use the popular phrase. Guys can be controlled by their hormones just as much as women, people just don't think about it in the same terms.
posted by stoneegg21 at 1:20 PM on March 2, 2004


As a sometimes grouchy/loudmouthed woman, I have often been told that my problem was either that I was "on the rag" [or insert crabby euphemism of choice] or that all I needed was a good fuck. I am serious.

See also: hysterical and/or hormonal, as not-so-subtle epithets along the same lines. Displays of emotion that displease men often elicit such responses, even when those displays are entirely appropriate for the situation at hand.

Also, (and this is, of course, strictly in my experience) women who dish these phrases out at one another aren't taking back ownership of words, they're buying into the attitude and atmosphere of male-dominance, in which such phrases are used as attempts to keep women boxed into certain roles.
posted by Dreama at 1:20 PM on March 2, 2004


But I fear that websites and products such as the ones mentioned in the post just propagate society's misperception that women in touch with their bodies=lunatic fringe.

As mentioned above, I use products similar to the ones in the post (although without the overtly political graphics printed on them) and I think it's unfair to lump the users of these types of products in with the "lunatic fringe/mentrual altar/blood art" group. It may have been your personal experience that anyone who choses to use Glad Rags or Luna Pads or menstrual cups is a fruitcake and that well balanced women only use tampons or disposable pads, but isn't getting over that stereotype part of making the leap from lunatic fringe to "women in touch with their bodies"?

There are more than political reasons for not using tampons (although the first step toward "smashing the tampon monopoly" would be to eliminate dependence on their product, no?) or disposable pads, such as comfort (a very subjective criteria, however) and economics. It's also possible to attempt to take a more environmentally friendly approach to the use of resources without living in a tree for a year.

I personally could care less what anybody else uses to soak up their blood (beyond a general wish that our society in general generated less trash). I'm not going to wait outside the Tampax factory with the bucket I soak my Glad Rags in to make some sort of MENSTRUAL-POWER PETA-esque protest anymore than I'm going to paint with it. Which is my whole point: non-disposable period gear does not automatically equal lunatic fringe, and assuming so only supports the concept that a woman comfortable with her body is somehow suspect.
posted by jennyb at 1:21 PM on March 2, 2004


Which is my whole point: non-disposable period gear does not automatically equal lunatic fringe, and assuming so only supports the concept that a woman comfortable with her body is somehow suspect.

I didn't mean to imply that I think the Keeper was on par with the pseudo-mystical and -radical menstrual gear. For no particular reason, I've never used one, but I think it's a great idea.

I don't think that women who use reusable pads or sponges are particularly insane, either. I just wish the marketing for the products weren't so inaccessible. *I* find it alienating, and (despite how I might come across ;-) I'm openminded and very comfortable with my body. Which is why I think it does little to make mainstream society more accepting of menstruation.

(Personally, I was a fan of the tampax all-cotton unbleached digital tampons they had for a while in the late '90s, but [like all things I like] they were discontinued. I felt them to be a decent compromise btwn. economy and environmental/political awareness.)
posted by cowboy_sally at 1:52 PM on March 2, 2004


How about we make a deal. We'll stop saying that insanely grouchy women are on the rag when y'all stop accusing us of thinking with our dicks, or having "pissing contests", or whatever the currently acceptable man-bash is. Or, you know, just suck it up, and admit that sometimes we're right, and sometimes we're wrong, but pretty justified in extrapolating from previous experience. It has nothing to do with subjugating or labeling women, we're just trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and that seems like a pretty reasonable explanation.

FWIW, it's been my firm conviction for some time now that women got off easy, only being hormone-mad once a month, instead of 24/7, like most post-pubescent men are... A (female) friend of mine once told me that she was glad that more women weren't "running things", because they'd just go crazy once a month and mess everything up. I countered that men are crazy 30 days a month, but we're just more or less used to it by now.
posted by majcher at 2:03 PM on March 2, 2004 [1 favorite]


All I can really say about this discussion is that it's probably a good thing for me. So thanks. As someone who grew up uber-reserved regarding personal functions (through limited fault of my parents, who don't seem to understand how I turned out this way), it's kind of difficult for me to get my head around just what I'm supposed to be thinking about this sort of stuff. My first response, is always "eew." Gross. It's blood and gunk, oozing from your body in largish amounts throughout the day. I find the concept of feeding your plants your own menstrual blood to be kind of disturbing, and I'm pretty sure at least one of my two boy roomates would utterly freak out if I began such an activity, and perhaps ask if I was becoming a "nazi-fem-bot" (his immediate query when he walked in on me listening to Tori Amos instead of my usual sad-boy-rock).

I also become very disgruntled when one of them implies that a girl is less than charming due to hormonal activity, although I feel free to write off my own emotions at times due to such things (I'm still establishing the right or wrong of that dual frame of mind.). It's true sometimes, but still...*shrug* Don't wield it as an asshole.

That said, I went into the site with a pretty open mind, I think (besides the "eew, do we have to talk about periods?" mentality.). Yeah, it's marketing, but I just happen to like cute things. Leopard print? A bit of a cliche by now, but the idea of well-made fabric things with attractive prints that don't inspire the immediate sterility of a plastic pad is kind of nice. The same product in white would probably not attract me, due to staining issues. And they have silver snaps. Part of me really digs that. Screenprinting? That's cool, too. I've never been a fan of fancy panties, but I'm kind of liking the idea of these. Reusable is something that I'm aiming for in my everyday existence, so I see a lot of good things in this product. So it's a marketing gimmick. I'm susceptible to those at times, and this one seems to have very few adverse effects besides just striking some people as trite.


I feel I need to lose at least 25% of the stigma I have against menstruation, and items such as that, even if they're massmarketed, help. I'm not quite to the point of elevating the period into a sweetly unique and wonderful glorification of the womenfolk and goddess mentality, but it bothers me that I can't just accept the actuality of an internal function that affects my body in both positive and negative ways. An openess regarding bodily matters really helps wierd little people like me who still have trouble peeing and talking to someone at the same time. The guy roomates are helping with that one, too. Nothing like carrying on conversations about rent money through a bathroom door.

So this was good. All of it.

I'm still sort of bothered that I'm talking about my period. On. The. Internet.
posted by redsparkler at 2:18 PM on March 2, 2004


we're just trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and that seems like a pretty reasonable explanation.

And that's also a pretty reasonable explanation for their rejection of our formulations and explanations of them and their behavior. And they're free to reject theories from their own gender as well.
posted by squirrel at 2:32 PM on March 2, 2004


I'm still sort of bothered that I'm talking about my period. On. The. Internet.

Eh, go with the flow.


...I'm so sorry
posted by Mick at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2004


Sorry can never take it back, Mick.
posted by squirrel at 3:00 PM on March 2, 2004


I met the woman who runs Lunapads. As it says in her story, she got very ill (TSS I think) from using tampons and decided to DIY an alternative. Now she has quite a successful business with retailers in a few countries... oh, and you'll perhaps find the language and design on her site a little less ermm, new agey than the other. There are some good articles in the resources section as well.
I've had a few girlfriends stop using chorine-bleached tampons, a couple on advice from their doctor. Personally, I try to avoid 'em by using the cotton ones, and the flannel lunapads at night. They're sorta cozy, you know, like a blankie.
posted by spandex at 4:13 PM on March 2, 2004


I have had a lot of women tell me that menstrual pain was imagined

Oh the memories..... My mother is an R.N. who never had a cramp in her life and apparently she never, ever spotted the sheets either.

Aah the bliss of discovering midol at age 18.

And now when the sheets get spotted, my SO just smiles and tells me to relax-- this is my house he reminds me and not my mother's. And he knows that the best relief for cramping is a good orgasm.

Side note: I was part of a test group for a cervical cap that was to be the next big thing to replace diaphragms. Their main selling point was that the cap could be left in for days and not have to be removed/replaced every few hours. They could also be used to dam the flow during one's period. They just had one huge drawback...the horrifying smell when they were finally removed.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:23 PM on March 2, 2004


Yowza. This thread is heating up. I knew someone who tried the cervical cap, and I heard from her later that she had read something bad about them, specifically about blocking menstrual flow. Wish I had a link for it. You're right though, about the cramp cure. Best to use that medicine preventatively, and repeat as needed.
posted by squirrel at 6:10 PM on March 2, 2004


I favor the "pitch a tent in the backyard and dig a ditch" method myself. Ack Ack! Ack Ack!.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:12 PM on March 2, 2004


I didn't mean to imply that I think the Keeper was on par with the pseudo-mystical and -radical menstrual gear. For no particular reason, I've never used one, but I think it's a great idea.

Peace out, kind rainbow blood sister! Heh.

You can find unbleached digital tampons at many co-ops, health food stores, and natural grocery stores, too. They aren't as easy to find (and probably not as cheap) as the Tampax ones, but they're out there.

They just had one huge drawback...the horrifying smell when they were finally removed.

Just when I think I'm "totally comfortable with my body"...
posted by jennyb at 4:17 AM on March 3, 2004


rainbaby - I'm one of those who plain won't have sex with a woman during her period. It's not that I think my wife's unclean or anything - I just don't like the look of blood on my dick. I know that I haven't injured her, or done anything to hurt her, but I don't like that image. It always looks like the aftermath of an angry rape, and it makes me nauseous to even acknowledge that kind of thing happening in the world, much less getting a nice reminder during the afterglow of orgasm. I know it's irrational, but I don't think it's ever going to get corrected.
posted by Irontom at 7:05 AM on March 3, 2004


why are people offended by the idea of men who wouldn't want to have sex during your period? I don't like to have sex during my period in general - it's messy, it's stinky, it's just not the best time to do it. I mean, I only have one or two heavy days, and after that I'm okay, but on those heavy days - I dunno, what's wrong with not wanting to play with bodily waste?
posted by mdn at 1:54 PM on March 3, 2004


(TMI warning, but I have to respond to the last 2 comments) Mark me down as a woman who'd be furious if a guy ever refused to hump me while I was bleeding. I'm super-extra-horny then, and I dig leaving my mark on a boyfriend and seeing it afterwards. It's just blood, for crying out loud. Keep a towel handy and get over it.
posted by fotzepolitic at 3:21 PM on March 3, 2004


what's wrong with not wanting to play with bodily waste?

Nothing, as far as I'm concerned, and men have the right to be squeamish (just as women do), and they also have the right to say "no" to sex for any reason at any given time (just as women do - I very much doubt that a man's saying he'd be furious if his girlfriend refused to have sex with him during her period would go over very well, so why would the reverse be acceptable?), I don't understand being furious about it any more than I'd understand being furious with someone who didn't want to stick their tongue down your throat when you've just woken up in the morning and your teeth and tongue are wearing little sweaters - some people mind, some people don't, it's not a moral failing or a lack of love or attraction either way.
posted by biscotti at 3:31 PM on March 3, 2004


"I'm super-extra-horny then"

So, you can demand sex as an entitlement, regardless of your boyfriend's feelings about it? Would you be okay with that attitude from him as well? Finally, does everyone get to make these demands of their partners, or is it just you?
posted by Irontom at 6:00 AM on March 4, 2004


It's just blood, for crying out loud. Keep a towel handy and get over it.

well, if it's just a little red when you're through, that's one thing; on my heavy days I have to change super-plus tampons every few hours, and having sex would be sticky, slimy, smelly, and generally menstrual-themed. Now, some people are into that; I know a couple who took pictures of themselves covered in her menstrual blood and thought it was totally hot. I am personally not into that. I don't think it's reasonable to be furious at someone for not being into that. Yes, it's blood; it's not some abstraction of blood, it's thick and red and smells like blood, only more so, blood mixed with uterine lining that's gone bad, it's bits of flesh, basically.

On my light days, it's not a big deal for me; a little leftover blood is okay. But if a guy felt that even a tiny bit of blood would just make him uncomfortable, I wouldn't force the issue - I mean, I'd discuss it, make sure we both understood one another and what was being suggested. I guess I'd recommend talking about the details rather than feeling hurt or angered by someone's preferences.

And as biscotti & Irontom have pointed out, no one is entitled to sex from their lover. Both sides can say no thanks.
posted by mdn at 8:55 AM on March 4, 2004


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