As far as possible, I avoid “coming out” or using any sort of label to explain myself, for a few reasons. Coming out stories make me roll my eyes. So you’ve been “out” for 10 years? What, does that make you realer than me? Queerer than me?
I tell friends and family when I’m dating someone important, but I’ve never sat anyone down and explained that I don’t identify, and why that’s a deliberate choice. I don’t explain that I don’t use the word “bisexual” because it usually means becoming suspect, or not being taken seriously. I don’t explain that using the words “lesbian,” “gay,” or “queer” makes me feel like an impostor, or somehow disconnected. I don’t say that I really only say “g-a-y” when I’m trying to make it perfectly clear that I’m not into you. I don’t explain that I say “dyke” when I really mean “fuck off.” I don’t say “I fall on a spectrum” because there is no sliding scale of queerness.
I use different words in different situations, which really goes to show that they’re not for me, they’re for you, so that you feel sure of what I am or how you should relate to me. But, I don’t want you to feel sure. I don’t give a shit if you’re confused. And I don’t want to be part of your club. You think you know me now, because I gave you a word? Can you trust me now? Don’t bother.
I realize this may sound terribly cliche coming from someone on their period, but something is pissing me off, and I swear it’s more than PMS.
I have been noticing it more and more. It follows me to work and it’s even sprung up in my own bathroom directed at me by a box of tampons.
The thing I’m talking about is PERIOD SHAME. (cue lightning, scary music, etc)
You know, the driving force behind the use of blue liquid as a stand-in for menstrual blood in pad commercials. The thing that enforces separate girls’ and boys’ health classes in elementary school. The thing that keeps male-bodied people in the dark (and hell, a lot of female-bodied folks, too!) about what the hell is a period anyway? You know, the thing that makes us say things like feminine paper and sanitary napkin, and call it a period, because even naming it is too shameful. And, the thing that keeps my co-workers handing me tampons like we are spies exchanging top-secret documents.
The Tampon Slip
My discovery of this little maneuver is a result of my chronic forgetfulness. Without fail, at least once a period I find myself at work sans tampons and asking a co-worker to supply me to the end of my shift.
Okay, you should know now that I work in a diner where I am required to wear an apron. Well, more like a pouch. Anyway, yes, I wear a pouch at work.
On two separate occasions, with two separate co-workers-turned-tampon-dealers, I have found myself privy to the oh-so-discreetly-executed Tampon Slip.
I could be standing at the computer, punching in a customer’s order, holding a tray of drinks, or standing around doing absolutely nothing (I do this a lot) when I feel the teensiest movement in my pouch pocket. My co-worker-turned-tampon-dealer has slipped a tampon into my pouch so subtly that even I barely notice.
And there you have it, The Tampon Slip.
Why is The Tampon Slip necessary? Why does it need to be carried out with such attention to discretion? Couldn’t they just hand me a tampon like they would hand me any other regular item?
Okay sure, maybe I’m very busy, or maybe my spider hands are full of plates, drinks and credit cards. Maybe. But most often, I am willing to bet that The Tampon Slip is meant to save me from PERIOD SHAME.
If my co-worker-turned-tampon-dealer handed me a tampon like a regular item, anyone could see and know that I have my period (SHAME!) or that they carry tampons and therefore could also have their period (SHAME!) and probably a whole slew of other shameful assumptions based on absorbency, brand, etc.
The truth is, my co-worker-turned-tampon-dealer can’t hand me a tampon like any regular item because a tampon isn’t a regular item. A tampon is a signifier of menstruation aka uterus-ovaries-vagina aka woman-ness or trans*-ness aka inferiority.
Us period-havers are supposed to keep quiet about menstruating to keep the non-period-havers feeling safe, superior and unburdened with any awareness or knowledge of our bodies and how they function.
If my co-worker-turned-tampon-dealer handed me a tampon like a regular item, it would disrupt the illusion we all play into that periods don’t happen. The non-period-havers would feel unsafe and scared because they would suddenly have to deal with the fact that periods exist. They would maybe even have to grope in their brains for some of the knowledge gleaned from those sex-segregated health classes back in elementary school.
Us period-havers would feel ashamed and embarrassed that we failed to uphold our part of the illusion, and everyone around us would know that we, too, have bodies that function as bodies will, and are probably dirty and morally corrupt.
Even the company I hand over my greasy-diner-dollars to every month (that I will call Tam-pox), insists that my period is “unclean” and I need to be “discreet” about its existence.
Right on the box, Tam-pox proudly shouts (practically) that its tampons have “amazingly clean protection” - with the word “clean” emphasized.
Inside the instructions and usage information, Tam-pox even kindly provides tips for discreet disposal.
“After you have inserted the tampon, place the used applicator back into the discreet wrapper. Grasp the bottom of the wrapper (the end with the applicator inside) and fold upwards toward the top of the wrapper that has the used applicator inside. Although this process is optional, it will give you optimal disposal discretion.”
If I could even decipher what that meant, I might find that I already do it. But to have it included as an optional-yet-encouraged step in using a tampon is ridiculous. I CAN’T EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS!
I guess what I don’t understand is how Tam-pox, one of biggest names in menstrual products, can be so period-negative? (And why, when I google “period positive” are the first results about pregnancy tests?) Is it too much to ask for a little period-positivity when I need it most?
Perhaps is about time I had some adventures in alternative menstrual products. Tam-pox, you and your period-negativity are banned from my bathroom, once and for all.
I just watched the episode “The Big One” (Season 3, Episode 16) and the message it sends to young, teenaged, college-bound girls is pretty puke-tastic.
Paris had sex with Jamie (and we’re supposed to be shocked) and has to hash it out with Rory to figure out if it was a good or a bad thing. The questions Rory asks that will supposedly reveal whether it was the right or wrong decision are:
- were you safe?
- was he nice to you?
- did the two of you discuss it?
Gaping hole in the line of questioning: did you have fun? did you want to? how was it? Anything along those lines is probably necessary to figure out if sex is good or bad.
Loralai overhears this conversation and finds out Rory has never had sex. She whispers to her self “I got the good kid” and tells Rory she’s going to take her shopping. Because good kids don’t have sex, bad kids have sex. And virginity of course should be rewarded with new shoes (because she’s a girl and what girl doesn’t love new shoes, right?).
Then, Paris doesn’t get into Harvard, and of course she blames it on losing her virginity. Again, because having sex is a punishable offense. If there’s no pregnancy scare or STI symptom, the TV universe will still punish you somehow for being a big, dirty whore.
Rory does get into Harvard. And Yale. And Princeton. Because she’s “the biggest virgin in the world.”
After a seven month hiatus, I recently returned to my home town and was able to enjoy all the perks of life at home: nothing I ate came from the microwave, for once my bank account gained some rather than lost some, and I had the distinct pleasure of getting my teeth cleaned.
Though I still maintain the dentist is often more embarrassing and uncomfortable than a trip to the gyno (um, ever had your teeth sand-blasted?) I was delighted to come to some surprising realizations.
While I don’t know exactly how many hours I spent in dentist waiting rooms over the break, I can attest that it was long enough to find myself flipping through back issues of Canadian fashion magazines. My delight came from reading about ladies with some pretty bad-ass things to say.
I bought the March issue of Flare just so I could give covergirl Jennifer Garner some well-deserved props.
"Garner’s motivation for adding ‘producer’ to her already packed resume is steadfast – she wants to showcase more strong female characters.
'In films they really want the woman to be dominated by a male lead, or you have one woman in a movie with six men and maybe she has a kooky female best friend,’ says Garner from her home in L.A.”
Hell fucking yeah, Jennifer Garner. If I was in charge of the She-bonics column inBust, you would so be in it.
I have more to post, but first I have to figure out how to get my hands on the February 2009 issue of Chatelaine…