Thursday, June 09, 2005

That not-so-fresh feeling...
In honor of Viv's recent menstruation-related post, I felt the burning need to put in my 2 cents. But not without mentioning these first. Tampons, yes. Pads, sometimes. A cup to poke on up there to catch the flow, which I will then have to remove, rinse, and reinsert? Um, no. She likes her tampons because she doesn't have to wash them when she's done. The Diva Cup site says it isn't messy. So tugging something out of your vagina that may or may not be filled with blood, pulling up your pants with one hand, trudging to the sink to give it a wash, and trudging back to the toilet to reinsert...they really think it's not going to look like the shower scene in Carrie in there? Plug it up, I say. Plug it up!

Periods, and talking about them, don't embarrass me. I have a stash of tampons in my desk at work, in the glovebox of my car, and in my gym bag. I have no qualms about saying, "I canceled my waxing appointment today. Oh, why? Surfing the crimson wave."

I never really liked the euphemisms for menstruation foisted upon me as a self-conscious teen: "Aunt Flo," "Monthly Visitor," "The Curse" (I really hate that one) or the whispered (usually from a preposterously old family member), "My Lady Days." And, as I told Viv earlier, I once had a stepmother who called it "Falling off the roof." This is the same stepmother who called her son "it" until he was 4, called me by my sister's name until, well pretty much until dear old dad moved on to the next slutty real estate agent, and she called bourbon "breakfast." Suffice it to say, I've yet to meet anyone else to use that "falling off the roof" phrase. Crazy bitch.

Other than demurely whispering that I had my period, or alluding to crippling menstrual cramps so everyone would get the picture, I leaned more toward the descriptive: "Riding the cotton pony," "flying the red flag," or - when I wanted out of gym class, "girl trouble." For four years, I don't think the coach ever figured out if 1)I had my period, 2)had somehow managed to get a girl "in trouble", or 3)if I myself were in the kind of trouble that would require either an abortion (as long as it was legal), or coat hanger (if not legal). Regardless, I spent gym class reading Ayn Rand and smoking cigarettes behind the field bleachers.

I love my period for many reasons. It's fundamentally female, and therefore feminine. In my early 20s, often intoxicated and not all that smart, P-E-R-I-O-D spelled relief more often than not. No matter how assertive (translation for men: "overtly aggressive bitch"), no matter how successful in the workplace, no matter how many hours spent in meetings and negotiations and corporate climbing that can make you feel vastly androgynous, there was that time at least once a month when I could pull down my underwear and see my girly-ness in all its wonder.

Let's stop being embarrassed. We bleed, for the better part of our lives. If we didn't, we would't have all of these cool hormones that make us all cute and curvy, nor would we be able to produce offspring. I say we become like the Playmates from the Planet Playtex: Fearless and unapologetic.

Let's take the taboo out of tampons. Wear them around your neck, stuff your pockets full, staple them to the walls of your office. A friend, caught unawares, asks you for a tampon? Tell her to go long and make that thing soar. Stand up at the table and announce, "Pardon me while I adjourn to the ladies' room so that I may change my TAMPON. I shall return."

Join me ladies. There shouldn't be anything that happens so naturally and also be so unmentionable at the same time. Period. Period. Period. Exclamation point.


  1. Plug it up, I say. Plug it up!

    (laughs hysterically)

    I'm with you, Kel. Where do I sign?

    Perhaps we should design pendants in the shape of tampons. Or have some of those rubberband bracelets that are all the rage now made that say "PERIOD!"

    And they would be red, of course.

  2. Hmph. I'll agree with you in theory. But considering I'm actually having my Special Time right now, and my two weeks of running have given my feminine organs time to build up some baby-making cushioning, I'm crampy and crabby and OOH here comes my boyfriend!!! ACK!

  3. I agree with you about the plug it up!!! Granted the Diva Cup, the natural Sponge Tampon (which you also have to rinse out, wring it out and put back in), and Luna Pads are perhaps the best items for us, made obviously for women, and are reuseable, thus getting the "Monkey" of paying for disposable products (and thus lining the pockets of male dominated corporate America); what's always the BEST option isn't always the easiest or the most feasable. And granted I've come to accept my flow as an integral part of who I am, and my femininity, I must admit that I would get grossed out if I were in the lavatory at work, some gal comes out of her stall with her pants around her ankles, wrings out all the bloody goodness and rinses her sponge or her Diva cup out in the sink--I know I'd get ill at that idea. Conversely, I'd never do that. I'm too private about my flow.

    At 36, I know that sooner or later, the "party will be over," and so will my flow. So every month I look at it as renewed possibilities, and a validation of "I'm not too old, yet."

    Loved this post... will read on.

  4. Aunt Flo, you say? I loved this - let us unite!!!!

  5. Oh sure, you're all excited about your period now. But you just better hope you never get a uterine fibroid, like I did. Then it's all period, all the time. Hey, I can deal with my period when being on the pill confines it to a neat little five-day window. But I draw the line at embracing it when I'm bleeding heavily for weeks at a time.

    Plug it up? Absolutely. But at one point in the period madness, I decided to go for a walk. I put in the super tampon and stuck on a pad for extra security. Half an hour later, I'd soaked all the way through to my workout pants. Good thing they were black. Good thing I wasn't far from home.

    So I'm all for embracing your period, and the tampons that come with it. Just beware...the crimson wave can turn on you in a hurry.

  6. Just found you, doing a search for "menstrual euphemisms."

    Lovin' your writing and your sense of humor -- I'll be back.

    Oh and tampons make excellent cat toys. Just remove the wrapper/applicator and they are little white mice with blue tails!


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