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  • Professor Period to the Rescue!

    By Lisa Smith, Douglas College, Department of Sociology and Menstrual Cycle Research Group “Does anyone have a pad? A tampon!? 50 cents?” I was sitting in the stall of a women’s restroom during the intermission for a concert, when I heard the familiar refrain. As a menstruator (because not all people who have periods are women and not all women have periods), I could relate to the urgency in my fellow menstruators’ voice. Menstrual blood often comes unexpectedly, and despite growing up in a society that has taught bleeders to come equipped and ready for anything, sometimes you forget or don’t have the right bag, or you run out because you’ve given your last pad to a friend! Inevitably, you find yourself in need of a pad or tampon or a pair of new underwear. As a sociologist and someone who studies menstrual equity—the everyday and systemic barriers facing people who menstruate—the irony of this situation was not lost on me. Like a lighting bolt, I sprung into action ready to help. I raced out of the stall (stopping to wash my hands of course!), “I’ve got you!” I triumphantly popped two quarters into the dispenser and turned the crank where I was rewarded with a thick box. I knew that inside that box would be a pad that no menstruator would choose to employ if they had another option. But necessity calls. “Thanks so much!” “These should be free,” I said. “And I’m going to write a letter to the administrator.” “Yeah, for sure. I mean who has quarters anymore?!” In the packed restroom, our conversation was public, and people around us shared knowing glances. We knew this was unfair, but there was an activation of shared camaraderie that comes from mutual support in feminine spaces. So, if we all know that the above scenario is not fair, why are menstrual supplies not treated like necessities, even though they are very much essential to the management of menstruation within a society that expects menstruators to hide menstrual...

    Published On: Feb-19-2024
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