Morghan’s recent post about feminine hygiene products perfectly set the stage for what I wanted to write about this week!
Last month I came across this great article about two high school coders who have created a fun, online computer game. The theme of the game: tampons.
Before you can play the game (which you can play here: tamponrun.com) you have flip through a couple panels that point out how “unspeakable” something as normal and common as menstruation is, and how ridiculous this is especially when compared with the normalization of guns and violence in our media and entertainment.
The aim of the game is to normalize the topic of menstruation though a silly activity, shooting tampons at attackers. I really appreciate what these girls are doing. They are helping to reduce stigma for women and combating the widely-held idea that our bodies are gross and shameful. In addition, they are reclaiming a platform that of late has been having a little difficulty treating women well (see anything gamergate related): video games.
Much like the difficult process of accepting one’s body as a woman, coping with menstruation can also be an embarrassing and secretive process. However, as Tampon Run creators Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser point out, it is a SUPER normal biological process. Negotiating modern life and one’s period is something thousands and thousands of people are dealing with, and still it is one of the least openly discussed topics. I think a big part of the reason for this is that men and women have been taught to view women’s bodies as mysterious and disgusting—- especially women’s mysterious, alien, and gross vaginas. (I had a bit of an epiphany regarding this when reading this piece on Jezebel about the movie, The Counselor, and the absurd catfish-vagina thing.) People seriously need to get over this, and realize that while women’s bodies are different (than those of men) there is no need to assign them negative value due to grossness or unknown-ness. That is silly and ignorant.
I do not need to talk in graphic detail about my period, the same way I do not need to luridly describe my head cold or food poisoning. But I would like to be able to say, “Geez my cramps hurt,” the same way I say, “Ugh I have such a bad headache” without people freaking out or thinking I’m being inappropriate or too familiar. I would like to be able request sympathy on Facebook “PMS kicking my butt today. Soooo tired.” the same way someone else would say “Flu is winning. Someone save me with soup.” (I have very nearly done this, but have self-edited every time.) I would love to be able to discuss better period-management with other women (and medical professionals) without us feeling embarrassed, uncomfortable, and/or clandestine.
PMS is just as normal as the countless other ailments people experience. Menstruating is a really common experience. It needs to be normalized because it is normal (just like our bodies!).
Begin the normalization with a few rounds of Tampon Run!