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It might be cool to be a woman cartoonFirst off, XKCD get it wrong, or is that

right?

My first response to this was annoyance that menstruation would be described as freaky but my second response was that XKCD have hit the nail on the head that this is how most men and many women are socialised to think of it (remember that choice line “never trust someone who bleeds regularly and doesn’t die”?). For some reason we’re trained to think of it as so abhorrent that in an age when almost anything goes in advertising, menstrual blood is depicted as blue water – just like babies urine is in nappy adverts. In fact this strange suggestion that menstruation is like uncontrolled urination (see blue water also used in adverts for incontinence products!) is somewhat perverse – menstruation is an absolutely natural event for most women. It’s absence is seen as a medical and social problem (as absence of menses means a woman is generally infertile). And yet whilst we can show bacteria in toilets and our guts and sneezes we refuse to contemplate making the demonstration liquid any more realistic than blue water (a recent ad campaign takes it a step further by making that blue bumper cars doing synchronised dancing). Why the unreality? Why the need to deal with it so euphemistically? (I’m not suggesting adverts should wave used tampons in viewers faces but surely we can get a bit closer to the truth without making “Outraged of Slough” apoplexic?)

Thoughts people please!

On a very much related note, Women’s Space are asking about green menstruation products (not as in the colour, as in the environment!). Some statistics bring into close relief why we need to be thinking about these questions:

Conservative estimates are that the average woman disposes of between 10,000 and 15,000 tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime. That’s about 250 to 300 pounds of waste per woman.

In the UK the Women’s Environmental Network has a useful factsheet about the same topic.