SUSTAINABLE PERIODS, WHAT DOES IT EVEN MEAN?

Thoughts on sustainable periods By Hana Al-Momani.

Womxn around the world will have very different perceptions of what it means to have a sustainable period. For some, it’s flexi-hours at the office, for others, mooncups and organic cotton tampons are the solution. But for women like the very poor in west-central India removing their wombs to maintain their jobs, the concept of a sustainable period is something else entirely. The common ground we do share is patriarchal society’s policing of female bodies. So to really achieve sustainable periods, regardless of status, race or religion, we should start with self-acceptance.

Here’s how:

1). Learn a new, period-positive language

The past hundred years of period talk has been pretty negative: squirms at hearing the p-word, valid emotional expressions branded “hormonal”, blue ‘bloody’ tampons on TV… Comedian-turned-menstruation education researcher Chella Quint (periodpositive.com) talks about advertising’s use of shame to sell period products (by calling a pad a “sanitary” towel we’re lead to see our bodies as dirty). Let’s try to shed the self-hate and be comfortable talking about our periods, without the language of dread that too often comes with them. Juliet Allen’s podcasts do a great job of reframing our cycles.

2). Take care of your emotional health

Many women report symptoms of PMS. It’s widely believed that once a month women become witches before their periods. But in her must-watch Ted Talk, Robyn Stein DeLuca argues that PMS is a myth; all this label does is propagate an image of womxn as erratic and unreliable, limiting our ability to be taken seriously and affect change. The PMS myth does give us an excuse to vent our anger, but wouldn’t it be nicer to express our emotions and actually have them heard? Sexism plays a big role in this, and one that’s hard to un-cast, but by learning to manage and express our feelings, we experience less ups and downs and aren’t so deeply effected by others’ actions. Try reading a second-hand copy of Steiner and Perry’s Achieving Emotional Literacy, and download sexual wellbeing app ‘Ferly’.

3). Read and talk about womxn’s experiences

Nimko Ali, author of What We’re Told Not to Talk About (But We’re Going to Anyway), calls for an ‘oversharing’ revolution. Oversharing is the antidote to the shame that polices our bodies. So comment on that Insta post that asks to hear your experiences!

4). Donate to charities and schemes tackling period poverty

As long as girls’ educations are being disrupted or even coming to an end because of their periods, they are not sustainable. The Red Box Project, ActionAid and Plan International are all doing good work to help girls around the world stay in school. Set up that direct debit!

5). If you can, invest in sustainable products

Some of our favourites are: Thinx (period pants), TOTM (organic tampon subscription), Daye (CBD tampons), Dame (Re-usable tampon applicators) and more!

Ella Grace Denton