With the recent (and utterly shameful) decision of the Commons not to take VAT of tampons and ‘sanitary products’, I think it’s worth dusting off this feminist golden oldie from Gloria Steinem: ‘If Men Could Menstruate.’ It’s utterly hilarious – and to be honest I think that’s the best way to win this debate – by ridicule. No-one can honestly think – if they think at all – that tampons are a ‘luxury’. It could be a human rights issue – but one of the best ways to tackle this prejudice is through humour. As Susan Calman said last night on ‘The News Quiz’, I like to put my feet up in the evenings and treat myself to a glass of champagne, a box of chocolates – and a tampon.’ This led to a hilarious riff on tampons in art and whether they could feature in ‘Bake-Off’, perhaps as mini-swiss rolls: ‘Susan has made a lovely tampon-tray here. Very effective use of jam.’
The fact is, there’s still a huge taboo around menstruation. It’s still hard to talk about in public – harder than faeces, harder than sperm – and even on ‘News Quiz’ the women felt compelled to ask their male colleague if he was all right. Germaine Greer went into this at length in ‘The Female Eunuch’, a copy of which is currently sitting beside me because OH bought it yesterday. I of course have my own copy but where it is, god only knows. My books have still not recovered since moving house.
But those in power take advantage of the taboo to maintain the status quo. So we must not be afraid to speak out on this subject. Fortunately our MP was not one of those who voted against change. But if yours was, why not drop them an email?
And do take a moment to read Gloria Steinem’s thoughts on men having periods: it’s not only hilarious but very thought-provoking.