Periods aren't offensive, pretending they don't exist is 2 months ago

Periods aren't offensive, pretending they don't exist is

What is "demeaning to women" is that we are still forced to have this conversion.

An advert detailing how to correctly insert a tampon has been banned in Ireland, adding to the lengthy list of ways this country has eschewed its women.

Tampax's lighthearted and educational 'Tampons and Tea' advert received 84 complaints from Irish people, leading to the ASAI making the really quite bizarre decision to ban it due to the debatable "widespread offence" caused.

Complainants (of which there were a staggering 84, remember?) deemed the ad "offensive." They said it was "crude" and "vulgar." They claimed it to be "demeaning to women," narrowing missing out on the incredible irony that gunning to have an advert about menstrual products banned is arguably just that.

In response to the complaints, Proctor & Gamble (who own Tampax) said that they had done a considerable amount of research into the barriers still stopping girls and women from using tampons comfortably.

They found that out of 5,000 women across multiple countries, 30-40 percent of tampon users were not inserting the applicator properly.

30-50 percent of women detailed experiencing discomfort every time or most of the time they used a tampon, while 60-70 percent said that the discomfort came from insertion, "which confirmed the hypothesis that the wrong insertion was triggering the discomfort."

"Although they had acknowledged internally that the copy idea might provoke a small number of complaints," read the response, "they believed that it was in the best interests of their consumers to help them understand how to make the best use of Tampax tampons and to explain how the product should be used."

And it does. At most, the ad is mildly cringey - using a classic daytime TV talkshow format encouraging tampon users to "get 'em up there girls!" while relying on canned audience cheers to encourage young women to do just that.

What the ad is not is "offensive," "embarrassing," or "crude." There is nothing "distasteful" about periods, tampons, or the very necessary education around those two things.

An education that, despite the myriad of information out there, is still needed and - in a lot of cases - not provided.

Recent research from Plan International showed that countless women and girls across the globe are still struggling to not only gain access to information about period health - but period products too.

Interrupted supply chains, product shortages, and restricted access to sanitary facilities were among the issues stopping 73 percent of girls from accessing pads and tampons during the Covid-19 pandemic, with price increases also contributing to the difficulties involved in accessing period products in developing countries.

This issue is not restricted only to the pandemic, nor is it a problem faced only by developing countries.

Here in Ireland, one in five (18 percent) of women said they encountered issues finding information or people to discuss their periods with, while many survey participants stated they did not want to burden their GP with an appointment.

It is blatantly clear that there remains a severe lack of education and support for young women and our menstrual cycles.

This gap in knowledge (and let's be honest, acceptance) is not only counterproductive, it is damaging. Women in Ireland have long deserved better than what this country has served them, but young girls need to know that their menstruating bodies are not "offensive," "crude," and "disgusting."

What is "demeaning to women" is that we are still forced to have this conversion.

Gone are the days of fears around tampons triggering arousal in women, long gone are the widespread concerns around the use of oral contraception, and yet the distaste, the awkwardness, and unwillingness to engage in any helpful education around periods remains.

Getting your period for the first time and not knowing what to do is embarrassing. Struggling to use a tampon or pad because nobody has ever taught you how is embarrassing. 84 people complaining about an informative advert is embarrassing.

Learning to use a tampon correctly is not.