There is a resounding consensus that 2015 was “The Year The Period Went Public” and so far, 2016 has appeared to be a year of continued period positivity.
From the national discussions about sales tax on tampons to the growing demand to rid sanitary products of toxic chemicals, it is safe to say that periods have been making headlines. Given this newfound momentum, many of the conversations have pivoted into actual advocacy movements.
Here are some of the most promising developments in social media menstrual advocacy.
When you stumble upon the homepage of the #TheHomelessPeriod’s website, you are immediately met with a moving video testimonial from Patricia, a woman who was homeless for 6 months. Patricia discusses the hardships that come with being a homeless woman on her period, an experience that she and all other homeless women go through every single month. The Homeless Period movement was kickstarted by three friends who met during their internships in London. The project’s asks are two-fold. On a more immediate level, the movement encourages its followers to donate a box of sanitary products to local shelters or foodbanks and to share their efforts on social media using #TheHomelessPeriod. Oli, Josie and Sara’s longterm hope is that #TheHomelessPeriod will lead to changes in legislation, specifically in a mandate that would make it possible for homeless shelters to make tampons and pads available.
This campaign was launched in response to Donald Trump’s, Republican presidential candidate, comments regarding Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly.
“She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Trump said in a CNN interview. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Trump later tweeted that he had been referring to Kelly’s nose, but the damage had already been done.
The Free The Tampons campaign begun in 2013 after its founder, Nancy Kramer, delivered a presentation at TEDxColumbus. Kramer wanted to create a movement that would drive the demand for free, accessible tampons and pads in restrooms located outside of the home. The advocates around the movement speak out to business owners and people working in public policy to combat the many barriers and concerns that keep public restrooms from supplying pads and tampons. The #FreeTheTampons social media campaign is dedicated to educating the public and raising awareness to empower others to help create this much-needed change for women nationwide.
The #HappyToBleed campaign was launched by a group of women who were outraged by a sexist statement made by the head of the famous Sabarimala temple in Kerala, India. The temple chief stated that he would only allow women to enter the shrine once a machine was invented that would detect whether they are “pure” – not menstruating. Because Hinduism views menstruating women as not pure, a woman is not allowed to enter the temple or touch any idols while she is on her period. Throughout the world, Hindu temples display notices near their entrances that explicitly tell menstruating women that they are unwelcome inside the temple.
College student Nikita Azad was particularly annoyed by the sexist remarks of Sabarimala’s temple chief. In an open letter written by Azad, she expresses her belief that the temple priest’s comments reinforce misogyny and perpetuate the taboo that surrounds menstruation. By creating the Happy to Bleed campaign, Azad hopes to protest against the gender discriminatory practices that remain prevalent in society.
Image Courtesy of Getty Images.