Most of us are familiar with the classic comedic scenario of a man who gets trapped into buying tampons for his significant other and then has no idea how to do it. This isn’t a fabricated incident—in fact, many women struggle with having boyfriends, husbands, or just guy friends who squirm at the idea of being in the feminine product section. While some find humor in this, the real reasons behind men’s reactions to the request of buying tampons aren’t funny at all.
This fear and confusion that some men experience when they’re around feminine products is a huge factor in the stigmatization around periods. Women are told that the subject of their bodily functions is a major taboo, and any mention of it makes them immediately unattractive. The resistance that a lot of men show in buying tampons or pads for their partners is one that perpetuates the idea that women cannot be vocal about any experiences that are deemed unattractive by men. When men distance themselves from the subject of menstruation by calling it “gross,” it leads women to believe that our periods should happen in secret to protect men from anything that leads them to believe our bodies do not solely exist for their pleasure.
When you are with someone who is quick to shut down any conversations around a normal process of your body, it can sometimes put stress on the relationship. If your partner’s only concern when you are on your period is whether or not you two can have sex, there is a major issue. In a relationship, particularly one of a sexual or romantic nature, it’s important to be open with your partner about your body and therefore, yourself. Not being able to be open and honest with your partner during this time can put some emotional and physical barriers on the relationship. When you ask your partner to buy your tampons, you’re putting your trust in them not only to respond to the news that you’re on your period with maturity, but also that they can listen and respond to what you need during this time.
While getting your partners to buy your feminine products certainly benefits your relationship with each other, it may also have a larger impact on the way your partner views periods and women in general. When you’re honest with your partner about your experiences with your period, they may be less likely to make snap judgments about other women, avoiding the “emotionally unstable woman on her period” stereotype that ignorance about menstruation can create.
It may also be helpful if one day you and your partner decide to have children, as you have already established a relationship where you can be open about the way your body changes and reacts to things. If you become pregnant, the fact that you are able to talk to them about your physical and emotional needs related to your body may make the process easier for both of you. Additionally, if you one day have a daughter who gets her period, your partner will know better how to handle it and the weight of the conversation will not only be on your shoulders. It may also make your children of any sex more open in asking questions and being able to talk with both of you about the changes in their bodies as they mature. When they know they won’t be met with embarrassment, confusion, or shame, the entire family will be able to communicate better.
When someone truly loves you, they should love every part of you, including those that aren’t nice and clean. All of this is not to say that any man who doesn’t know how to buy you tampons is a misogynist, but rather that their reaction to the question itself can tell you a lot.
If you have a partner who refuses to learn even the basics about your experience with your period or flat out refuses to buy your tampons out of the fear of being caught with something so “feminine,” it could be a sign that they are uncomfortable with the parts of your identity as a woman that don’t directly benefit or appeal to them.
Having a partner that you can be open and honest with about your period is a sign that you can trust and communicate with each other. Many men may truly want to help their loved ones when they’re on their periods, but simply don’t know what they can do and are afraid to ask. So ask the men in your life to buy your tampons—you may be pleasantly surprised by their answers. Even if you do have to go over with them the differences between regular and super, you’ll be glad you did.
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