I started Bloody Good Period over a year ago to provide menstrual supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can’t afford them.
So, there are generally two things that happen when someone hears the name Bloody Good Period. Either they laugh, and congratulate me on my average punning ability or they cringe, and ask, couldn’t you call it just, you know, Bloody Good? Do you have to say period?
Yes. We have to say period. We have to say menstruate and we have to say blood clots and womb and vulva and vagina. It is too late in the game to talk about the curse, to whisper it’s that time of the month or for politicians to pretend that this silence and euphemism around menstruation is not the symptom of a structurally sexist society.
And while we’re at it, we don’t have space for those companies who deal in taboos, stigmas, and shame and couch the fact that half the people in this world bleed out of their vaginas every month.
It is too late, because there are young people attending school with socks sellotaped to their knickers. And young people not attending school at all because they can’t bear the insecurity of stuffing their knickers with loo roll.
Because there are asylum seekers, who have travelled halfway across the world to escape trauma, who now have distressingly heavy periods from the stress of displacement and are left to deal with them alone. No sorry not alone, but with a paltry £5 a day to live on. Asylum seekers who are forced to use scraps of fabric in place of pads - who are left confined to their homes for a week each month. One woman seeking asylum in Leeds told us that during her period she was too afraid to sit on her sofa in case she leaked and was evicted for being unhygienic by an unsympathetic landlord.
In the past year we have given out around 300,000 period products to those who can’t afford them and that need is not going away.
We are contacted by new asylum seeker drop-in centres, homeless shelters and food banks asking if we have period supplies they can distribute to their users every single month. There are organisations and projects like ours popping up all around the country because there is a demand – an unignorable urgency – for greater menstrual care for the most deprived people in our society. And while menstrual cups can be an incredible alternative, they are not the solution for people sharing bathrooms without locks, and with strangers, and without proper education about how to use them.
But this isn’t a new need. Periods, period poverty, it isn’t a new issue. Earlier in the year, I got chatting to some older ladies about the tampon tax. I said, isn’t it ridiculous that it’s 2017 and we’re only just talking about it? Now, there’s nothing like an 2nd wave feminist to shut you down. They said, babes, we were protesting this shit in the seventies! Feminists have been talking about periods since before you were born!
It is vital that we do not believe ourselves to be the first to protest this shit, because if we congratulate ourselves too much, and allow the media to whip this up into a frenzy, then it will be dropped quicker than Always dropped that blue liquid in their adverts the second they heard you all coming.
This cannot be old news by this time next month. If periods become secret again, then period poverty will become secret again, and the only ones left thinking about it will be the people bleeding into fucking socks.
This change is coming from grassroots activism so I want to draw attention to some of the other companies and projects you need to know about in order to truly change the conversation around periods and period poverty.
If you use tampons and pads, you need to get on board with Freda. Freda are facilitating all of our donations for this event, and unlike the big companies, will not profit from period poverty. You also need to know about Proud Pads, Flo, Yoni, Callaly, Mooncup, Lunette, Lily Cup! You need to follow Flow Aid, Fourth Wave Feminists.
And you need to come to CupAware, where we demystify menstrual cups with our incredible partners The Cup Effect. These are organisations and companies who give a serious fuck about your vagina and not just their bottom line. If you haven’t heard of them, follow them on Twitter NOW and support from the ground up.
But most of all, be informed and bloody angry and do everything you can to ensure no one ever has to wear a sock in anything but their shoe ever again.
Written collaboratively by Gabby Edlin & Lily Howes