One question for you – why do scented sanitary towels exist?
This question was provoked by Caitlin HT’s fantastic poem about periods, combined with Vagenda’s fantastic article on old wives’ tales. I was musing over ‘women’s health’ and our attitudes to ‘the painters’ all darn day (fun!) but the notion of scented sanitary towels had me hooked. How did this idea get past the ‘Dragon’s Den’ level of the production process? How did no one in the board room stop and say ‘wait…do periods actually smell? Must we febreeze our women?’. Perhaps no one in the board room has ever had one.
(Perhaps they are just heeding the wise words of Brick Tamland and I should stop complaining)
In my ten years as a menstruating woman (I’m not sure why that feels like a confession…?) I have never – not once – had any of my friends lean over and say awkwardly ‘hey…Jule…I can smell your blood’. This has not happened. Perhaps my friends are polite. But equally, in my twenty two years as a person, I have never smelt another person’s menstrual blood (we won’t go into the issue of nightclub toilets here…I’ll just say it would take more than a scented panty liner.)
Selling products like scented sanitary towels marketed with flowers and other ‘fresh’ symbols perpetuates the biblical idea that a woman who is on her period is unclean and should be ashamed, and that she should do everything within her power to hide this fact from the world.
It is alarming enough as a young woman to start spontaneously bleeding, but to then be told you need to keep this as SECRET as possible or people will sniff you out is tantamount to bullying. Besides which, scented sanitary towels have a migraine-inducing scent and will probably induce a excruciating bout of thrush, resulting in even more shame and confusion. Is this really how we are treating what is, in fact, a natural and healthy process? We have a rover on Mars and yet I still blush when I’m stockpiling on my SANPRO.
In summary – it feels like high time that multi-national corporations stopped trying to perfume our genitals and pretend we love roller-skating and white jeans whilst we secrete a mysterious blue liquid and instead we all focus on making the world a better place for everybody.
Starting with a rap about mooncups.