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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Camp Gyno: Critics of Shame-Free Period Ad Miss the Big Picture


 

My first job was working at a local Papa Johns Pizza during high school. One of our delivery drivers was a guy named Dave, mid-50s, generally laid-back, and very much stuck in a mindset that was several decades past the norm, at least by the standards of Millennials.

Dave and I were folding pizza boxes among a few other men and someone brought up his wife being on her period (hint to the unaware: don't do this), and there was much grousing and trading of horror stories (don't do this, either), and in the middle of it, Dave, exclaimed "it's just disgusting, women should keep that to themselves."

I'd like to think things are better in our generation. Yes, there's still a stigma to menstruation, but at least, we're getting better at talking about it openly (though clearly, not being one who gets periods, my view is probably privileged here).

Regardless, if I'm annoyed by some men expressing disgust at even the thought of periods and the emotional stereotypes and gaslighting that go with that process, I can't imagine the annoyance of women who have legitimate concerns dismissed with the stellar logic of "she must be on the rag" or those who feel it necessary to hide or be discrete about using feminine hygiene products.

And beyond that, I can't imagine girls and young women entering that phase in their life and being unsure of how to navigate that ridiculous stigma.

I mean, for fuck sake, it's blood. Rocky can seek out to get the shit beat out of him, have a bloody face, and be a hero, but girls and teens (and many women) who menstruate are supposed to feel shame?

Anyway, a new website called helloflo.com is launching in Sept, 2013 as a monthly delivery service that aims to get the basics a woman needs for her period right to her door, 3-7 days ahead of expected arrival of menstruation. Convenient and easy.

As part of their public relations campaign, they've produced a rather brilliant ad called "Camp Gyno", a humorous take on the first girl at camp to get her period, that is quite unapologetic about what that entails. It's funny, honest, and I can imagine girls and young women watching will be less ashamed of something over which they should feel zero shame.

However, there are always going to be critics. One writer pointed out the website itself endorses a shameful attitude in its "about" section, in which the creator of the site describes her own unease carrying tampons in an office and also one of the FAQs that reassures the box itself is "discrete".

Nevertheless, the advertisement itself is going viral in a big way: posted on Monday, it had over 2.2 million views as of 9 am on Weds.

And for good reason. I can't remember anything so in-your-face in popular media about girls owning their periods in a humorous, free-of-shame way, and even if they feel empowered by the ad, does that somehow forfeit their desire to use these products discretely, anyway?

Critics of the website are splitting hairs. Let's enjoy the fact that a company was finally brave enough to mock our childish views on periods and take away the shame from girls and young women entering puberty.


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