Happy holiday season from Chica HQ! Are you ushering in this year with a better period?
This week, we follow up on our “shark week” story, with some more perspective. (And if you finish reading and find yourself agreeing that a biological function shouldn’t be oppressive, we encourage you to donate to Period Pals, a local youth-run club that promotes positive period awareness and donates menstrual supplies to our homeless community).
Elise: Hello My Queen of Applicator-less Tampons,
Last week we celebrated you bleeding into your pants. We celebrated that your period is flowing heavier. We celebrated that we can choose our period stains to be treated as a funny surprise, a deliberate choice to embrace what our patriarchal culture tells us to be ashamed of. Your first periods were only punctuated by the inner turmoil of adolescent self-consciousness. Your mom was there to host a celebration and provide menstrual supplies. We cringed because we were scared by the thick pads and applicator-less tampons. But our cupboards are always stocked. If we run out, we can immediately go to the store.
We’re so lucky that we can treat our period stains as a celebration. Menstrual insecurity is a serious issue in the United States. Over 42 million women, and the 28 million children who rely on them, live in poverty in the United States (Shriver Report, 2014). Most assistance programs do not cover menstrual supplies and these hygiene supplies are the least donated item at food banks. On top of this, tampons are even more expensive because they are taxed as a luxury. Menstrual inequality is deeply intertwined in our lives, and thus there are many different nuances that create different experiences. This summary of numbers highlights that this matters because there are consequently millions of people who are at risk of falling behind in school or work due to their period.
Are our periods really special or is it just due to our privilege that we can find empowerment through them? Our periods may just be another spin-off of the self-help field, requiring a higher socioeconomic status before it can be enjoyed. Our mission statement is Love Your Period. I am reflecting that this means more to us than just helping those who can afford Chica love their period. We also desire our work to extend to helping others feel comfortable with their periods because they have the supplies they need. Once this base need is covered, more individuals in our community can begin to love their period because it is no longer oppressive.
Cassidy: Hi My Bleeding Badass,
In our last letter, I compared abruptly getting my period in public to peeing my pants a little. The sensation might be mildly similar, but I made the comparison primarily because one might expect the resulting humiliation to be the same. However, if you’ve ever experienced this, you know that getting your period is inherently nothing like peeing your pants. Menstruation is not a rare accident, nor something you can change or control—it is a biological function that at least half of the global population experiences. And it is more than humiliating. It is capable of causing severe physical and mental stress. Plus, why would someone celebrate peeing their pants? That’s a ridiculous ask. Almost as outlandish as asking someone who has limited access to menstrual supplies to “love their period.”
I agree. It’s fucked up that a biological function can be oppressive, and it is even more fucked up that there is a profound lack of empathy for menstruators who cannot simply “try” to embrace or celebrate it. It is not a coincidence that some individuals, like us, feel able to celebrate their period: the lack of access to basic menstrual products is political, and it is an extension of our society’s systematic oppression of marginalized peoples.
I wanted to write this letter in tandem with last week’s because I have a complicated relationship with how I engage with my period. I want to celebrate it, but the contemporary fascination with the sacrality of bleeding frustrates me. If I was being less polite, I would say it pisses me off—the language surrounding this movement is quite frankly narcissistic, saccharine, and solely intelligible to economically advantaged cisgender women who are already fluent in it. This isn’t intentional, but that’s exactly the problem: it perpetuates harmful social dynamics under the guise of innocence. And yet, here I am, actively contributing to the exclusivity of this conversation. Can I practice what I preach if I celebrate my period with the same blissful ignorance?
Sure, our mission is Love Your Period. But, when it is promoted without context, this mission is hollow. I want Chica to grow because when people hear “Love Your Period,” I want them to associate the sentiment with a product and a movement that is universally accessible and is making a tangible difference. It is of the utmost importance that we use our platform to do more than just contribute to the self-help field. And for us to do that, Chica cannot be a luxury product. Fortunately, we have specific steps to make this happen, the first of which is offering sustainably low prices.
Thanks for the reading material! Fingers crossed that our contract manufacturer takes us on full-time,
P.S. If Chica runs for office, our running mate should be Chelsea VonChaz of #HappyPeriod or Nadya Okamoto of the PERIOD. movement. Or maybe they should just campaign and we’ll cater their events.
Image: Kein Magazine