Have You Heard About Menstrual Equity?

I’m going to introduce this topic with a teaching story.

Several years ago I had a one-day high school job as an intervention specialist.  Normally I would help other teachers, but this day I had a dedicated classroom where students could come for help as a kind of supervised study hall.  When it was lunch time, some of the students stayed in this classroom to eat, and they were joined by a few friends.  One of the newcomers was scheduled to come in to study during seventh period.  She wanted to alert me that she was going to need my help, but somehow her words came out as “I’m going to need help with my period.”

She never did understand why all the other girls were laughing at her.

I know that menstruation can be a touchy subject.  My mom said her family was scandalized when, as a girl entering puberty, a playmate’s mother asked her if she had started menstruating yet.  The situation was doubly awkward because up to that point Mom had been told nothing.

But today while out running I happened to hear a discussion on the National Public Radio program “1A” about menstrual equity.  The title of the program is “Why Periods Are Political: The Fight For Menstrual Equity”, dated October 10, 2017, and it can be found at http://the1a.org/ .  The discussion involved both stories about awkward situations and progressive ideas.  For example, should feminine-hygiene products be subject to sales tax when other essential items like prescription drugs and groceries are not?  (In Ohio fast-food restaurants, you are always asked if your order is “for here or to go?”.  If you’re taking food out of the restaurant, you’re not charged sales tax.)

With topics like same-sex marriage out in the open, perhaps it’s time to have an honest discussion about feminine hygiene too.  By the way, according to the broadcast, over 5000 euphemisms for menstruation have been identified in languages around the world.

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