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Tampons, period. The making of a period-positive Facebook group

This past week, The Mac Weekly sat down with Ana Diaz ’18, the coordinator of the “Tampons, period.” Facebook group, to discuss the group’s inception and goals.

TMW: So, can you tell us a little bit about “tampons, period”?

Ana Diaz: Yeah, “tampons, period.” is a Facebook group. It’s like in the vein of “Free and For Sale” or “Mac Thrift Shop” except we don’t sell tampons. Basically, anyone who has their period can post and specify their preferred product, and where they are on campus. There are over 400 people who can respond and be like, “I got you, I have an extra tampon or pad or what have you.”

And is it only open to people with periods, or also allies who want to help the cause?

AD: Yeah, so this is an interesting question that a lot of people have been asking me, and I want to think about it. The best way to go about this is to see what other people in the group want. So I’m thinking of doing a general post or a poll soon or something along those lines, and maybe letting people discuss and argue for and against having allies on there. I think it’s a really cool idea, because if someone who doesn’t have their period wants to carry around tampons for me, I’m okay with that. But, at the same time, something that I really, really like about the group, which sort of just happened and wasn’t the original intention, is that it functions as a period-positive space. And I’m sure that there are people on there who don’t have periods, because there are so many reasons you wouldn’t have your period. Birth control can stop periods, and a lot of athletes don’t have periods. So, given that, maybe we should open it up to allies? But, I don’t know, it just depends what people want out of the group, so we’re going to figure that out.

And where did the legendary name come from?

AD: [Laughs] Well I was hanging out actually in this very corner of the library making the group, trying to figure out what to name it, and Crystal Yam ’17 thought of the name, and I thought it was hilarious. It’s a good pun, and who doesn’t love a good pun, but it also just communicated what we’re about. One thing that I don’t like about the name is that it says “tampons, period,” and not everyone uses tampons, but I just thought it was the most clever name.

Was there any inciting moment that got this idea going in your head?

AD: It had been in my mind actually, because I had been reading that Brown University had gotten feminine hygiene products across its campus for free, and that actually really upset me because why can’t we have “nice things,” things that are necessary. We’re supposedly a very progressive institution that cares about public health and women’s health, which obviously aren’t separate at all. So that’s what put it in my head. But basically the inciting moment was when I had to go to class and I realized that I needed a tampon and I didn’t have one. I very last minute ran into a friend on the first floor who happened to have one, but I was sort of in that moment like, “oh dang! What if I hadn’t run into that person or what if I didn’t know anyone on the first floor, like that would have sucked to not be at class on time because I needed to run home and get a tampon or go to the Health and Wellness Center to get one.”

Has it gotten the circulation that you’d wanted so far?

AD: Yeah, it’s gotten much more than I even thought would happen. Like, the group is less than a month old, and it is definitely over 400 members right now, and it might be verging on 450. To anyone with a period reading this, go ahead and join! It was really cool because not only would I say that I’m happy with the amount of people who are on it, but also people are using the group and we’ve successfully gotten many people tampons

Yeah I’ve never seen a post that wasn’t responded to…

AD: Yeah, exactly, and that’s really great. That makes me happy. I just remember the first day we created the group a girl needed a tampon and got one. And we’re steadily helping a couple people per day, which I think is really cool.

Do you have any hopes for it to expand, or are you just letting people to do what they want with it?

AD: I don’t know. I don’t have any desire to advertise it or make it really grow or try to get more members, but I do think that there’s potential for it to be a great platform for public health on campus. So I think about using it as a venue for discussing various health issues and talking about why we don’t have access to this already on campus. Some people have talked to me about doing Macathon or Mac Start Ups, and I’m not completely sure that’s the direction I want to take it, because right now it’s more about community organizing, but I do want to talk to some students on other campuses and have them try it and see if it works for them, because I think that would be really easy to do and be really cool.

How many tampons do you have on your person at any given moment?

AD: I think I have two or three in here, even though I’m not on my period. Because now I just keep them on me always, and I also sometimes carry around products that I haven’t used, because sometimes you can just get variety packs or whatever so I have a couple sizes. I just keep an eye on the group.

Do you shower with tampons on you? Do you sleep with tampons on you? Do you sleep with tampons in?

AD: Actually, yes. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to do that.

What’s the best “tampons, period.” moment that you’ve witnessed?

AD: Best tampons, period. moment? I mean I just like how candid and happy everyone is when talking about their period. There have been some really great puns and words for tampons. I like tampie.

TMW: Someone called it a “tizzle for my vagizzle?”

AD: Okay, yeah, best “tampons, period.” moment was the first post because I was like, “oh my gosh someone actually likes this; it’s going to be used.” This girl, I don’t even know her, was like, “this group could not have better timing. In search of a tizzle for my vagizzle on the basement floor of the library.” She got a response within 10-20 minutes, and it was so cool because it was the first post and three people were like, “oh I have a tampon.” That was cool because people were so enthusiastic to support, and that made me really happy because it makes me feel like I’m in a community that cares. Even though there isn’t institutional support, a lot of people do care.

If a Monsanto-cotton-using tampon corporation tried to capitalize on your idea and offered you millions to turn this into an app, would you do it?

AD: I mean, I don’t know, probably not. I think I’ll be able to make a living either way. I really hate Monsanto, and I think it’s super interesting because tampons are seen as part of women’s liberation; you put a tampon in and you don’t have to worry about your period, and you can hide your period really well. It’s easy and convenient, and you can just do whatever. And that’s true, it’s nice not to have to worry about it, but also I think there is this darker side to it where studies have shown dangerously high levels of toxins and chemicals and pesticides in the tampons, and it just shows how oppression is implicit, but it’s still there in many ways. I think about that and I think it would be cool if everyone had a diva cup, but obviously tampons just work better, and I know that they work well for me.

Is there anything else you want to say about “tampons, period.” to the Macalester community?

AD: Yeah, if there’s anyone who is interested in taking this somewhere else, like an org, or Macathon or something like that, or anyone who really cares about this and just wants to talk about it, I just want to learn. Given the support that this has gotten so far, I don’t think we should ignore this as an avenue of interest to the student body.

October 14, 2016

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