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If We Want To Erase The Stigma Of Menstruation, We Need Men To Be Period Allies

I’ve all the time had hassle understanding what the large deal is about durations — principally half of Earth’s inhabitants experiences menstruation, and but nobody talks about it. As a younger woman, I keep in mind being advised to maintain “my time of the month” on the down-low, as a result of apparently the mere considered my uterus bleeding may gross out these round me. If you ask me, the stigma surrounding menstruation is completely ridiculous, however sadly, the remainder of society is not essentially able to hop on board the Periods-Are-No-Big-Deal Express with me.

But now, The Flex Company — a female care firm that invented FLEX, a tampon various that gives 12-hour safety and mess-free period sex — is working to vary that by sparking dialog about menstruation, with the last word objective of erasing the pointless and harmful stigma surrounding periods.

“Our mission at The Flex Company is to create life changing, body positive experiences through the products we make and the conversations we spark,” Lauren Schulte, CEO of The Flex Company, tells Bustle. “Revolutionizing period products is only half of our mission. The other half is focused on engaging people of all genders in dialogue about women’s health.”

Courtesy of The Flex Company

In order to offer menstruation some much-needed visibility, The Flex Company has opened a short lived pop-up retailer in SoHo, Manhattan, the place individuals (not simply women) can study extra about FLEX in addition to the lengthy historical past of interval merchandise. The pop-up, situated at 138 Wooster Street, is open to the general public till June 30.

“Our SoHo pop-up was created to demonstrate that periods are an essential part of our lives — a part that no longer needs to be relegated to the shadowy back aisles of the drug store,” Schulte says. “We designed the experience in a way that people of all genders feel comfortable talking about periods and the history of period products.”

Where Does The Period Stigma Come From?

In a perfect world, everybody can be each accustomed to how women’s our bodies work in addition to snug discussing women’s health issues. But sadly, the stigma of periods goes way back: traditionally, durations have been seen as “unclean” and “shameful” as an alternative of, you recognize, a pure factor that occurs for many women. And it isn’t simply the long-standing stereotypes about durations working towards us: even now, trendy intercourse ed in America does little to normalize menstruation.

“The first moment we become ‘a woman’ we’re taught to hide this very big part of ourselves.”

“Most Americans learn about periods in school, if we’re lucky enough to have sex ed, which many states don’t,” Schulte says. “Boys and girls are separated, and boys don’t learn much about periods. Girls are told to keep their period private and to hide their tampons. This dynamic immediately makes the topic taboo. As adults, we’re still told to hide our tampons. In fact, a lot of the ‘innovation’ we’ve seen with period products has been in packaging — repackaging the same products to make them more ‘discreet.’ So the first moment we become ‘a woman’ we’re taught to hide this very big part of ourselves.”

Courtesy of The Flex Company

Why The Period Stigma Is Harmful

Being discouraged from speaking about our durations has critical penalties — not solely does it unnecessarily disgrace women for one thing that is completely pure, however it can also negatively influence our health, too. Open dialogue is important to foster understanding, so if we do not really feel snug speaking about menstruation — one thing that includes 1 / 4 of our lives — how can we really come to know, respect, and look after our our bodies?

“[The period stigma] leads to a myriad of problems,” Schulte says. “We cannot name or identify our own body parts. We don’t know how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. We are unable to identify a reproductive health issue. If we feel embarrassed or ashamed of our own bodies during our period, that emotion takes a major psychological toll. If we refocused our negative, body-shaming energy toward things that fulfill us, the world would be a much better place.”

Another destructive aspect impact of not discussing menstruation brazenly? It inhibits our potential, as a society, to invent new merchandise that would vastly enhance women’s health.

Courtesy of The Flex Company

“Another harmful consequence is that we’re still using products that are giving us TSS and infections,” Schulte says. “We’ve gone almost 80 years without any true product innovations. Yet I can’t think of a product as ubiquitous and as hated as the tampon. Most men don’t believe me when I tell them that tampons have a terrible user experience. But if we’d been talking about these issues openly over the past 80 years, I believe we’d have better options.”

Why Men Need To Be Period Allies

Although that is at the start a women’s health problem, it isn’t simply women who have to be in on the dialog. The solely approach to normalize menstruation is to ensure everybody, together with (and maybe particularly) males, perceive how durations work, and really feel no disgrace or embarrassment when discussing menstruation.

“If we genuinely want to see menstruation become less taboo, it will be critical to have men as our allies.”

“Our society must be willing to discuss menstruation with boys and men,” Schulte says. “We’ve got to normalize periods as early on as possible. Until menstruating humans are prepared to fully engage men in a dialogue, we will remain in an echo chamber. If we genuinely want to see menstruation become less taboo, it will be critical to have men as our allies. We must come at the issue with compassion and empathy. Rather than chastising men for their lack of knowledge (or assuming they have no knowledge), we can begin by asking men questions to see where they are at with their own understanding… and take the conversation from there.”

Courtesy of The Flex Company

Re-framing How We View Periods Is The Way Forward

As women, we have been taught to be ashamed of our durations and to maintain that a part of our womanhood a unclean little secret. Erasing the stigma of durations is not one thing that may occur in a single day, however step one is, on a person degree, re-framing how we view our our bodies and our durations.

“For people who menstruate, how do we take back 25 percent of our lives?” Schulte asks. “Why should we dread one week out of every month? How do we instead learn to embrace every part of ourselves, including our menstruation? That is a tough nut to crack, but we fundamentally believe that by creating better options of period products… periods can become a part of ourselves that we celebrate rather than fear, shame, dread or hide.”

Courtesy of The Flex Company

So subsequent time you are strolling to the toilet, do not feel the necessity to cover your tampon (or FLEX) in your bra. Don’t be too embarrassed to casually point out your interval in dialog, even when males are round. Call out those that make durations out to be gross or soiled (or who perpetuate the “crazy menstruating woman” trope).

The solely strategy to make a critical change in society is to get snug discussing issues which are thought-about taboo. Ultimately, menstruation is a reminder of women’s unimaginable potential to actually deliver life into the world — despite the fact that it is a bit of bloody, there’s nothing gross about that.

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