Complaints about TV ad another indication of how far Ireland must travel on menstruation issue
The only thing more annoying than having a period every month is having to act like it's not happening. This is, unfortunately, a fact of being female.
For as long as the uterus has shed its lining, women have been made to feel ashamed for involuntarily bleeding once a month.
I’ve heard all the stories from my girl friends: the spot of blood left on the toilet seat of a new boyfriend’s bathroom, the most reliable way to smuggle a tampon into the office bathroom - purse, palm, sleeve, or waistband are the solid methods.
Then there’s the male shop assistants giving a funny look when we arrive at the checkout with a box of super-plus night-time pads.
And even if we’ve made great strides in accepting our periods as grown women, most of us hide all the paraphernalia associated with menstruating. Case in point: the fact that complaints about a television advertisement for a brand of tampons has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI).
“Get ’em up there girls!” This was the tagline of the Tampax advertisement.
Yes, it was slightly uncomfortable. But then again, so is the topic it was talking about - the fact that far too many women don't insert their tampons far enough into their vaginas and walk around all day feeling sore.
Finally, here was an ad teaching girls and women how to properly insert a tampon on Irish television and it’s been banned.
ASAI Chief Executive, Orla Twomey, said in the last four-and-a-half years there have been only seven adverts that have had 60 or more complaints.
The ASAI said: "Some complainants considered it to be offensive and inappropriate to talk about such a sensitive topic in the manner portrayed and that the content had been over-descriptive, inappropriately expressed and with excessive detail." I say, grow up Ireland.
In 1978, Gloria Steinem wrote a satirical essay about what would happen if men menstruated. Periods would be celebrated - even praised. Cramps would already have a cure and bleeding an average of five days a month would be a symbol of strength. It’s so true.
I first got my period when I was 12, and it wasn’t until the ripe old age of 25 or so that it even dawned on me to not be ashamed of menstruating.
I don’t think an ad telling us how to use a tampon was ever going to solve all this. But in 2020 we shouldn't have to act like periods are some taboo demon ritual. Information about periods and options for managing them - cup, sponge, pad, tampon - should be widely available.
Obviously, I’m not saying that we all have to go around yelling about our bleeding vagina to whoever will listen. But equally we need to be so careful about passing shameful attitudes on to our daughters. We need to teach them that periods are just part of life, no big deal, nothing to be ashamed about. If all women do that, maybe we can totally end the shame in one generation.
Please, please, stop concealing your period from the men in your life too. Make him do the “walk of shame” to buy your box of pads every once in a while. Mould your son into the man who will buy tampons without shame.
For now, let's all grab some tampons and a few paracetamol and make period pride a thing. Our bodies aren’t gross or disgusting or shameful. Our bodies aren’t “wrong”.
There's nothing to hide. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about and we should be allowed to have sanitary products advertised to us. Period.