Tuesday, June 22, 2004


I saw a commercial on TV the other day that I liked, which is strange because I never like commercials. It was for some new extra-small-applicatored tampon, playtex or kotex or tampex or whatever. In it, girls presumably in a high school class are passing a tampon to someone who needs one. The teacher catches them and has one young girl turn in the offending article. He looks at it, assuming it's candy, and says to her: "Well, I hope you brought enough for the rest of the class." At this point, all the girls in the class are laughing out loud.

"I brought enough for the girls.", she replies, eyes sparkling with mischief.

I love that commercial. If for no other reason, I love it because I hope that, through seeing it, high school girls will learn that menstruating and carrying the necessary trappings of doing so are no big deal. To me, it was always a big deal.

You women remember those days, right? You dreaded taking your purse with you to the Girls' Room because then everyone would know. You almost died of humiliation if some boy took your purse at recess and dug through it in jest because he might find out. When you had to buy more tampons or pantiliners or pads you cringed inwardly and sought out the only female cashier in the place, even though her line was much longer than the others. Please don't need a price check, please don't need a price check....They will all know!

Heaven forbid.

Really, it's silly. How is it still a "taboo" topic? For crying out loud, I've known people who'll spout off poop jokes, raise one buttcheek and let loose with a trumpetous fart, but shy away from any mention of the unmentionable "period". Silly, silly, silly. Half the population has, does, or will menstruate. If you are a woman of "child-bearing" age, everyone assumes you do. Therefore, it should be Ok to buy tampons. Or say "I have cramps" when someone asks why you need an Advil.

But it's not.

I didn't really make peace with the whole monthly cycle thing until I read Inga Muscio's Cunt in college. Now, I don't see eye to eye with every little thing she proclaims, but I definitely felt empowered by her descriptions of menstruation and her belief that we should embrace the entire idea and make peace with our bodies instead of hating them. Now, I have my Vinnie's Tampon Case that Brandy gave me proudly contained in my purse, and I won't hesitate to put it on a table if I'm searching through the contents of said purse. I say "I have cramps". I go to whichever line is shortest when I'm buying whatever underpants defense I've chosen for that particular month.

I've pretty much stopped using tampons. I don't know that I entirely buy into the whole "asbestos in tampons" urban myth, but I have noticed that since I've stopped using them, I'm less crampy and there's less crap to deal with.

One little thing that irks me--that people say "bleed". Like it's bleeding, like a cut on your finger or a scraped knee. People, I'm not bleeding. I'm sloughing off parts of my uterus. If I had been more or less careful (depending on my family planning desires for that month), the stuff being sloughed off would instead be the beginnings of another human being. Powerful stuff.

Very powerful. Anyway.

I menstruate. I do. And it's childish to be grossed-out by any reference to that fact.

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