The price of having a bloody fanny
“You okay?” I asked.
My workmate’s frown had been fixed for much longer than usual. Brow knotted, she clipped back, “Fine.”
A few minutes later, the lack of her standard perkiness had me worried. I waited until we had a degree of privacy. “Honestly, what’s up?”
She looked back at me, face blank. “What? Nothing. I’m just…”
“Work related or…?” I wanted to say ‘lady days’ but growing up in a household filled predominately with women meant that I possess a shrapnel of tact. Instead, I shook my hand at my abdomen and said, “Fanny stuff?”
The eloquence of man is but virgin land to me
I’m fortunate to work with very awesome people. She laughed and nodded. “Yeah, just kinda shitty and I don’t know why. It’ll pass.”
“Right on,” I said, and we left it there. I reflected on my history working with this particular staff member. After two years, I could count the number of times she’d been in this mood on one hand. I inquired – using my masterful way with words – “How often do you period it up?”
She told me that by being on the pill, she was able to control it so she only ‘surfs the crimson wave’ once every three months.
“That safe?” I asked.
“My doctor recommends it. Plus, tampons are expensive.”
Smug white gold
I didn’t know that. Why would tampons be expensive? Wait a minute, how could tampons be expensive? They’re a necessary commodity for a massive percentage of the world’s population due to circumstances outside personal control.
What about pads? Surely pads are cheaper.
No way. More expensive.
Frankly, this is backwards. Technologically, we can store tens of thousands of songs, videos, pictures and documents on a mobile phone and video chat synchronously with someone on the far side of the world. Scientifically, we’ve drafted the human genome and have split the atom. Politically, the world is stable. The summarise: we’re in good shape.
This is my contention: if menstruating is outside of a person’s control, the cost of managing the effects and symptoms of said menstruation should be covered by the state.
This idea has been touched on and talked about many times before, but being a man, I’m in a position to give an objective view of the issue. Let me spin a yarn:
I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. It’s an arthritic genetic predisposition that means my spine is trying to fuse itself together, causing crippling pain unless managed. The way I manage my condition is through exercise and the indulgent use of prescription anti-inflammatory medication. When I was diagnosed, I saw a number of specialists, had x-rays, blood tests, a proposed MRI scan, countless referrals from doctor to doctor, ophthalmologist (eye doc) to rheumatologist (bone doc), and the cost of all of it was covered by the state.
Thank you NZ tax payers!
This is because my affliction is not my fault. I didn’t fuse my spine together deliberately, it’s due to the odds of the universe and genetics.
If we use that very simple edict, shouldn’t all menstruation costs be free? Women don’t decide they’d like to add the XX chromosome while they’re a malformed zygote, right? Females don’t choose to bleed their uterus’ lining through their vagina often causing severe pain and limiting productivity, do they?
It’s not like shaving your face. If I like, I can let my beard grow. That’s my choice. Sure, ladies could let The Red Baron through the floodgates and flow freely if they like, but that would quite possibly ruin their jeans, ostracize them from any water cooler conversation and spoil their chances of a second date with that cute guy who finally asked them out.
This photo may appear to be in bad taste but the story of Carrie and her period humiliation is a classic example of menstrual fear and humiliation induced by a misogynistic society.
In short, it’s not really a viable option. In order to prevent such a grisly scene, ladies must use tampons or pads or the pill… or a mooncup (which we’ll get to later – get excited for that).
Allow me to present some ballpark (very ballpark) figures based on a walk through three of my local supermarkets and txting friends.
1 menstruation cycle = 20 tampons (give or take depending on your flow – heavy flow means more moolah)
1 pack of 20 tampons = approx $6.00 (again, depends on a myriad of variables)
1 year of tampons = $72
1 menstruation cycle = 14 pads
1 pack of 14 pads = $6.49
1 year of pads = $78
Between $15 and $50 a month (This one is really tricky as variations of hormones affect each person differently. We’re all a unique snowflake, yay!)
1 year of the pill: $180 – $600
Some ladies have little choice here. They might have extremely painful and debilitating periods causing them to stay home from work or school and the only alternative is popping pills of hormones at a designated time every day.
BEING A MAN
(In the case of vaginal bleeding, anyhow)
“But what can we do?” I hear you cry. We’re just a small country at the bottom of the earth who make world acclaimed films and music. We can’t affect world politics.
The sultry miss to your right might have something to say about that.
I’m going to lay down two suggestions, each is a progressive step toward a stronger, more just society.
Kate Sheppard appears on our $10 note and is our most famous suffragette
1. Make all tampons and pads free.
This would cause a sweet wave. Imagine if we were the first country in the world to do this?! We’d be hailed!
Imagine the headlines:
New Zealand first to do something that America could’ve and should’ve prioritized over Obama Care.
Countries would follow our example and in ten years we’ll all look back and marvel at how backward we were, making people pay to manage a physical impediment out of their hands.
The cost is minimal. Our tax can cover it. If anyone cites cost as an issue, remind them that it’s a healthcare cost. If our country can shell out for my spine (which I’m very thankful for), I’m sure it’s shelling out for a lot of other people’s cases, so it can shell out for this too. It’s in the name of creating more productive citizens.
It’s not enough to make feminine hygiene products tax free (it’s ludicrous they’re taxed as it is), they should be 100% free for all women, no matter the flow, vagina size or number needed.
2. Use a mooncup.
The many faces of Mooncup, the modern day minge-friend – I had to work hard to refrain from photoshopping happy faces on them.
You insert these soft, amenable funnels into your vagina to catch the blood. From what I hear it takes some practice but once you get the hang of it, much like riding a bike, it becomes a second nature and they’re more comfortable and induce more confidence than tampons or pads.
These little beauties are next level awesome. Allow me to list the ways in which they rock the party:
– They hold three times the blood of a tampon which means much less trips to the toilet.
– They’re silicon-free, hypoallergenic and contain no dyes, plastics, toxins or bleaches (It’s like clean eating for your vagina!).
– They’re tremendously economical. One mooncup will last years and years and years.
And best of all…
– Price. Around $50 will purchase a wicked wee mooncup for your soon-to-be comfortably clean yoni. That works out as cheaper than one year of tampons or pads and you can keep one mooncup for decades.
– Bonus point: They have measurement markings on it so you can keep track of your bleedings (I tried for a long time to come up with a better term but ‘bleedings’ is by far the best). This is helpful for medical reasons, I guess, or if you felt like keeping a chart for fun like we do for Erection Size Graphs.
Financially and menstruationally free!
I’m personally in favour of both. Use a mooncup, tell your friends to use a mooncup and save the environment one tampon at a time, but while doing so, let’s storm the Beehive Parliament Building and demand free feminine hygiene products.
All together now, FOR A BETTER AOTEAROA!
Check out Mooncups here.
Tony Ryall of the National party is New Zealand’s current Minister of Health. If you’d like to join the plight, address a letter to him (you don’t even need a stamp):
Mr. Tony Ryall MP
Private Bag 18 888, Parliament Buildings
Or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
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