Another Menstrual Hygiene Day passed by with many conversations about periods. It is only fitting to look at a few menstruation campaigns and bold artistic representations of menstruation that makes it easier for us to have these conversations today. It is a harrowing reality that while humans have conquered outer space, we are still concerned about who enters religious spaces, kitchens, and households during their periods. Listed below are a few interesting online campaigns on menstruation that revolutionised ‘Period Talk’ in India.
Also Read: Is PMSing An Excuse? We Uncover The Mystery
On Monday, March 23, 2015, Rupi Kaur, a Canadian Indian university student, spoken word performer and poet, uploaded her university assignment to Instagram. The image is simple enough, a young woman (Kaur herself), lying on her side in a room decorated minimally. The colours are muted, and two things stand out: the bloodstain on her crotch and the bedsheet. What had started as a visual representation of her endometriosis, developed into an online sensation. It ended up inciting the wrath of netizens. Her post was removed from Instagram twice. She responded back with the words, “… I will repost it again. I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and the pride of [the] misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak”.
One of the best menstruation campaigns to have come out in 2021! In an effort to counter the highly feminised language of menstruation and menstrual struggles, which only caters to the interests of cis women, Schbang For Good and Boondh Social Foundation conceptualised #UndergenerMenstruation, India’s first gender-inclusive period campaign. They replaced the highly political usage of the word ‘women’ on menstrual hygiene products with ‘menstruators’. Why is this campaign important, you ask? It is simply not about inclusiveness alone. It is also about creating spaces for representation for all people who menstruate, regardless of their assigned gender. Sonal Jain, the co-founder of Boondh Social Foundation, believes that our social positions should not be gendered. They said that they “can’t imagine a body process being gendered” either.
Menstrupedia is a campaign that approaches menstruation and period health in an entertaining and unique way. Addressed as an interactive comic book for menstruators of all ages, it is an all-inclusive guide that works as a ‘Google’ for all period-related matters. You could even describe it as carrying your older sister’s or your mother’s advice in your device or in your bag. It is available as both an interactive comic online and a printed book offline. The online version also has a ‘read aloud’ feature for disabled readers. Despite your age or your experience with menstruation, this book is definitely worth reading or gifting to a loved one!
The public Instagram campaign started as a creatively designed graphic to address the issue of menstrual health among underprivileged menstruators. According to the founder, Tanvi Johri, this campaign is a “beautiful depiction of a rather painful reality”. Statistics verify this unfortunate and harsh fact. For most menstruators in India who do not belong to the privileged, their life essentially ends the moment they begin to menstruate.
1 out of every 5 girls drops out of school due to their lack of accessibility to menstrual hygiene products, myths and stigma surrounding periods, and religious belief systems. This also aligns with another campaign addressing the same purpose, Period Of Pride, in association with Network 18 and Whisper. However, what makes Carmesi’s Period Girl so different is its visually appealing, eye-catching designs, meant to attract audiences in a social media platform to further reach. Their descriptions are catchy, short and hit the brief – The first drop and the fun stops.
Sure, this is not an ad campaign of sorts, but this essay has been taking the internet by storm. Gloria Steinham addresses the gender politics that lay hidden behind the veil of menstruation and period stigma. Written after her short visit to India, Steinham’s speculative essay makes one significant argument; what if, for some reason, women magically stopped menstruating and men did? She says that then the discourses surrounding it would be different.
As she says, “Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event: Men would brag about how long and how much. Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day…” Her satirical essay calls attention to the fact that oppressing women and calling her impure during the days of her period is nothing but an extension of the power justifications that men provide for everything.
This list is not exhaustive; however, it is a reminder that the narrative surrounding menstruation and period health is not as inclusive and as simple as we give it credit for. There are problems and issues surrounding it and they need acknowledgement and actions.
Can you think of any menstruation campaigns that caught your eye?