Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Responses To #JustATampon Show That Tampons Sadly Aren’t Just Tampons

The Responses To #JustATampon Show That Tampons Sadly Aren’t Just Tampons

The Debrief: They’re pretty funny, but also pretty grim…

Periods. Most women of a certain age get these natural things every month for a few days. And yet still, each month women in the UK have to fork out over 5% VAT on sanitary products like tampons and, yes, sanitary towels. And while we might face the sort of low-level shame that means we feel we have to hide a tampon in a sleeve or aggressively bunched-up fist on the way to the toilet, menstrual stigma across the world is devastating.

As well as being shunned by their communities, girls in certain countries and areas aren’t allowed to go to school when they start menstruating, tampons are forbidden by religious conservatism and in areas where toilets are scarce, they’re at risk of sexual assault when going to and from toilets (something you need to do a little more than normal when you’re ‘on,’ right?)

That’s why V.Point News, along with Plan UK as their charity partner, have started the #JustATampon hashtag. The idea is, you take a selfie with a tampon, text ‘TAMPON’ to 70007, then upload the image with the hashtag. The money then goes to a year’s supply of tampons for a girl in Uganda – one of the countries where menstrual stigma (or taboo, whatever you want to call it) gets in the way of women’s education, independence and livelihoods. And it's been going pretty well, people Tweeting and Instagramming stuff like this:

One of the first people to take up the hashtag was newscaster Jon Snow, holding a teeny-tiny non-applicator (there’s a whole other article on why taking a tampon out of its applicator to Tweet a photo of it might be counterproductive if you don’t like the idea of one day pushing the dry-yet-sticky cotton stick inside yourself with just a finger or two). And one person wasn’t very happy about it.

Enter Bruce Everiss, who responded with: ‘Many other necessities of life are taxed.’

Someone – a man – then explained that, well, ‘Because it's a necessity of life that only women have to pay for. So tax on being a woman.’

Bruce responded: ‘Good. There are plenty of man taxes.’

When someone then asked what these were, he simply responded:

He’s since said ‘Beer,’ which we honestly didn’t know you needed a willy to drink, and is now trolling various women with ‘Time of the month?’ memes.

As well as this bizarre outburst from the sort of guy who you just know has a BT Internet email address, there are other people chiming in with ever more proof that a totally natural function that women go through for about a quarter of their working lives really is still stigmatised:

Like this guy who would only ever go near a tampon if he could use it to soak up HIS blushes as if HE’s the one who’s suddenly come on in the middle of a long car journey:

Or this guy, who, again, equates beer with natural bodily functions that serve to keep the human race (mostly) alive:

Like, this person who wants to compare periods to, say, shitting, instead of, say, sneezing:

Or this guy who’d rather we all free bleed:

Or this woman who seems to get and not get that part of this campaign is to tackle stigma both here and abroad:

Or these guys who think that vaginas are simply there for them and their wants and desires:

Oh, and this guy, too:

And this prick as well:

And then there’s an editorial at The Spectator, which we won’t link to, which says: ‘Young do-gooders handing out tampax as if it’s a form of foreign aid miss the point: the problem isn’t education about sanitary products, but the fact that there isn’t a Boots on every corner. Like the older condom campaigns against HIV or the more recent FGM scares, it seems that the West is more obsessed with controlling what happens in the knickers of the developing world than talking about the wider political problem of continuing poverty in the 21st century.’

Which completely fails to see that it’s been proven over and over that, even if you’re just going to take a capitalistic, money-focused point of view on this issue, the more women in education and then work, the better a country’s economy.

Just like the bare-faced selfies for cancer research, you can take a photo with a tampon or not take a photo. What’s important – if you care about menstrual health and women’s education – is that you donate, by texting TAMPON to 70007 to donate £3 to Plan UK.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

All Hail The Arrival Of Period-Proof Underwear Which Means You'll Never Leak Again

Every Question You've Ever Had About Your Period, Answered

David Cameron Can't Say 'Tampon' Out Loud

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Sexism, Periods