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Living / Claire Blackmore

Meet The Trailblazers Changing The Perception Of Periods

Let’s take a moment to celebrate the taboo-smashing peeps that through a combination of brave, bold and forward thinking actions, have made huge headway in changing society’s perception of periods. Get ready to be inspired….

 

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Who…

Arushi Dua, the Indian feminist who challenged Facebook

Why she’s amazing…

In an effort to change the taboos surrounding periods in India, Arushi, who was a university student at the time, penned an open letter to Facebook’s Mark Zukerberg asking him to add an “On My Period” button to Facebook.

Arushi said…

In her letter to Mark, Arushi wrote: “I want to highlight the situation here in India about how menstruation is taken to be a taboo. For you are an influential man and in a position to broadcast, convince and make people listen. Sir, you can help make a massive change in this regard.

“In India, women have always been on the receiving end. They have been suppressed and are taken to be lesser human beings than men. I am privileged to have had awareness of this fact and be in a position to fight against it.”

 

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Who…

Denver-based artist, Jen Lewis

Why she’s amazing…

When Jen switched from using tampons and pads to a menstrual cup, she was fascinated by the abstract appearance of her period blood as she emptied it into the toilet. This then inspired her and her photographer partner Rob to embark on their macrophotography project ‘Beauty in Blood’, a series of beautiful images of menstrual blood moving in water.

Jen said…

“One day, when I had some blood on my fingers after emptying my cup, I started to wonder about why society framed up menstruation as something disgusting.

“Beyond communicating a singular message, my hope is to stimulate these conversations and get people speaking openly about all the issues related to menstruation … I hope ‘Beauty in Blood’ communicates that menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of or fear.”

 

Cass Clemmer https://www.instagram.com/p/BWdC16fDCRp/?taken-by=cassclemmer Courtesy Cass Clemmer

Who…

Transgender activist and artist Cass Clemmer

Why Cass is amazing…

Cass menstruates, but as a trans and non-binary person, doesn’t identify as a woman (preferring the they/them pronouns) and is spreading the message that periods aren’t just something that happen to women. On their Instagram feed Toni the Tampon, Cass posted a picture of them having their period, with a powerful poem describing the experience of #bleedingwhiletrans.

Cass said…

Speaking to a reporter about their poem and image, Cass said: “There are a lot of people who have never considered what it’s like to get your period while not identifying as a woman and I have seen a lot of educational and respectful conversations between commenters on my thread that give me a lot of hope for the future, My favorite reactions, however, are and always will be the response, I get from fellow trans and non-binary folks who have written to me to say that because of my poem, they feel less alone in the world. For me, there’s no greater motivation and honor than that.”

 

Who…

Nancy Kramer of the US movement Free The Tampons

Why she’s amazing…

Entrepreneur Nancy launched the ‘Free The Tampons’ campaign with an kick-ass TEDtalk where she outlined her bid to provide free sanitary protection in workplace and public toilets outside the home across America. Her inspirational concept has motivated other countries worldwide to follow suit.

Nancy said…

Asked about her inspiration for the campaign, Nancy revealed: “When my daughters hit middle-school age, the thought they could be embarrassed or humiliated because they didn’t have supplies … I thought that was unacceptable.” She added, “If men got their periods, we would not be having the conversation,”

Who…

Kiran Ghandi, musician and activist

Why she’s amazing…

When Kiran got her period the night before she was due to run the London Marathon, she made the decision not to use a tampon or pad and instead ‘free-bleed’ through the 26 miles in a bid to overcome period-shaming in society.

Kiran said…

“I ran the whole marathon with my period blood running down my legs,” she explained on Instagram. “I got my flow the night before and it was a total disaster but I didn’t want to clean it up. It would have been way too uncomfortable to worry about a tampon for 26.2 miles. I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist. I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day.

“Women from a young age are told that their main value to society is that they must look beautiful, consumable, f*ckable. A period doesn’t fit into this category, so it is made taboo. For this reason, my marathon run was about reclaiming the fact that it is not my job to look sexy for others’ public consumption. My job on the marathon course was about choosing what was right for me in that moment, and completing the 26.2 mile race in the safest and healthiest way possible for my body.”

 

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Who…

Rupi Kaur, the poet and performer

Why she’s amazing…

Her powerful menstruation-themed photo series was created by Rupi to demystify periods – the picture of her leaking in bed made headlines when it was removed by Instagram, twice, for apparently violating the social networking site’s policies. Rupi challenged Instagram, supported by women all over the world, and the image was later restored.

Rupi said…

Of her work, Rupi explained: “I bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. My womb is home to the divine. A source of life for our species, whether I choose to create or not. But very few times it is seen that way. In older civilizations this blood was considered holy. In some it still is. But a majority of people, societies, and communities shun this natural process. Some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. The sexualization of women. The violence and degradation of women than this. They cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. But will be angered and bothered by this. We menstruate and they see it as dirty. Attention seeking. Sick. A burden. As if this process is less natural than breathing. As if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. As if this process is not love. Labour. Life. Selfless and strikingly beautiful.”

 

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Who…

Swimmer Fu Yuanhui from China

Why she’s amazing…

The swimming sensation caused a stir at the Rio Olympics when she came fourth in a relay and revealed to a reporter poolside that she’d got her period the day before and didn’t feel her best. Women around the world applauded her for this upfront and honest approach to competing whilst having a period – breaking a massive sporting taboo.

Fu said…

Post race, Fu spoke frankly about her performance: “It’s because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired – but this isn’t an excuse. I still didn’t swim well enough.”

 

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Who…

Arunachalam Muruganantham, known as India’s ‘Menstruation Man’

Why he’s amazing…

This man’s story is epic. After learning that his wife would use filthy rags and newspaper when she got her period, Arunachalam, a poor farm labourer, set about inventing a low-cost sanitary pad making machine that would change the lives of women in rural India forever. Along the way he was ostracised by his community and family for daring to tackle such a taboo – he even had to test the sanitary pads by wearing them himself – but his persistence paid off. Arunachalam raised huge awareness around the unhygienic struggles faced by women in India and can be credited for a sanitary pad revolution in the country. His simple machines went on to be used by over 1300 rural villages, where women would make the pads themselves and sell or barter them in the community – creating jobs and sanitary protection for thousands of women in poverty.

Arunachalam said…

“Nobody was ready to talk to me about the issue, so I wore my own sanitary pads and made a uterus made out of a football and goat’s blood. I understand why my mother left me at that time. It might have been horrible to find out that her son was studying sanitary pads used by other women. People used to think I was a pervert and possessed by black magic because I used to conduct research on used sanitary pads. So I left my village and tried to find out how big companies make sanitary pads. The whole idea was not just to make sanitary pads, I wanted to reach out to most part of India so that women start using these pads. Also, I wanted to create jobs for rural women.”

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