This is the second edition in a two-part series. Click here to read the first edition.
The Cup Effect is an organisation raising awareness about the benefits of menstrual cups through CupAware parties in partnership with Bloody Good Period. The parties, mimicking Tupperware parties, are get-togethers individuals can attend or host, to get ‘cup-confident’ and learn all things menstrual cups. The proceeds are then paid forward to arm asylum seekers, refugees and other individuals facing period poverty with cups and cup-confidence. The Cup Effect works with schools, universities and other organisations across the UK, as well as partners in Kenya and Malawi to raise cup-awareness and distribution among low-income communities. Image from the cupeffect.org
Chella Quint, writer, researcher and comedian, founded #periodpositive from her menstrual education project to counteract period stigma. Chella is rewriting traditional menstrual education by working with schools to tear down the secrecy and shame around periods, by empowering students and teachers to be #periodpositive. Her message is that while periods can be painful and annoying and not everyone feels positively about them, menstruating should not be invisible, and neither parents, teachers nor advertising should dictate your experience with your own period. Find out how you can get your school or organisation involved in the movement here.
“I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist. I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day.” Kiran Gandhi
In 2015 musician Kiran Gandhi ran the London Marathon whilst free bleeding. Getting her period the night before, the drummer decided that running a marathon with a tampon would be uncomfortable. Instead, she would raise awareness about period poverty and make the statement that women shouldn’t feel embarrassed about menstruation.
Kiran used the marathon to say I am here, I am a woman, I bleed and I’m not going away. Kiran Gandhi. Image from independent.co.uk
If you haven’t heard of her, Rupi Kaur is a 25-year-old Indian-born Canadian poet, illustrator, writer, New York Times bestseller and Instagram sensation for her vulnerable and thought-provoking poetry about womanhood, identity, empowerment, strength and representation. In 2015, she broke the internet by uploading a series of photographs about menstruating, herself as the subject. Instagram swiftly removed the photos from the platforms claiming ill-alignment with their Community Guidelines. Uploading a screenshot of their response, highlighting Instagram’s double standards which deny the existence of menstruation, the series was returned to her account in full bloom. Rupi’s refusal to back down has helped to pave the way for breaking down the shame, by demanding menstrual visibility and starting more meaningful conversations. Image from rupikaur.com
“Their patriarchy is leaking. Their misogyny is leaking. We will not be censored.” Rupi Kaur
The responses to menstrual activism around the globe have been overwhelmingly positive. This sends a strong message that menstruation and menopause are normal parts of biology, not to be treated with disgust or awkwardness, but with understanding and compassion.
Although symptoms can be debilitating, we’re hushed from a young age, taught to deny the existence of our menstruation at home, at school and in the workplace. This has gone on for too long. A crucial change to our perception of menstruation is needed if we want to achieve gender equality.
Sparks of activism are igniting across the world, and people everywhere are no longer accepting the demonisation of a natural and normal process. We are reclaiming it. We’re in the midst of a menstrual revolution which will provide people with the right tools to challenge pervasive beliefs will help to transform society for the better. Period.
This article is the second part of a two-part series. To read the first edition click here.
Written by guest blogger Alice Chambers. This article was originally published on Victorian Women’s Trust – An independent advocate for women and girls. Since 1985, they have been promoting true gender equality through annual grants, targeted research, education, policy submissions, events and more.