Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Tyrrannical Toilet Rules"

Real quick: An [unknown] boss in Norway has recently required his female staff to wear red bracelets during their periods to explain why they use the bathroom more frequently.

This seems to be the final straw in a broader series of invasive bathroom-policing policies:

66 per cent of managers made staff ask them for an electronic key card to gain access to the toilets so they could monitor breaks. 

Toilets in one in three companies were placed under video-surveillance, while other firms made staff sign a toilet 'visitors book', the report by the Parat union said.
Thanks to Jezebel and TheUndomestic.

Monday, November 29, 2010


The Moon Inside You is a documentary by Diana Fabianova about menstruation and what it means. I have not seen this, but the trailer looks amazing! (Unfortunately, the other clips on the website are not in English.)

What stood out to me in the trailer is the brief discussion about periods being/becoming obsolete. Thanks to modern medicine, it is now possible to eliminate having a period at all. One of the [male] doctors in the trailer asks out loud, "Is menstruation natural? Is menstruation normal?"

The question of it being natural or normal doesn't sit right with me. What would be unnatural or abnormal about it? To me, it seems much more unnatural to load yourself up with synthesized hormones.

I'll be honest, the idea of having no period freaks me out and I have difficulty accepting that it could be healthy. But, I also recognize that as someone who has relatively drama-free periods (negligible cramping, very predictable timeframe, no outrageous hormonal mood swings), I don't have as much to dread. Not that I get head-over-heels excited about it, but I actually kind of like having my period.

I can see why women would want to skip their periods, but I feel like some of that dread comes from our culture. If you see your period as embarrassing or disgusting, why wouldn't you want to escape all of that? But if we as a culture just saw it as something that happens without all this negativity, do you think there would be such a push to get rid of it? Perhaps I would feel more comfortable with discussing the idea of eliminating menstruation if there wasn't so much unfair cultural baggage to unpack around it.

I think it's Karen Houppert in her book The Curse that compares menstruating to having a runny nose. When you have a cold, stuff comes out of your nose, you get a Kleenex, you take care of business, and that's that. It's the same as having a period. Stuff comes out of your vag, you deal with it, even if it's not necessarily sexy or exciting or glamorous, and life goes on. I can't imagine there ever being a movement for medication to eliminate boogers, questioning whether or not they were normal.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Great post on menstrual cups

A friend of mine put up a great post yesterday on menstrual cups, including pros & cons as well as an instructional video: check it out!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Victorian Menses

I have been taking a Victorian Literature course this semester, and this quote appeared right after I was asked to contribute to this blog:

"Arabella approached the time when in the natural course of things she would have to reveal the the alarm she had raised [of being pregnant] had been without foundation" (Thomas Hardy Jude the Obscure p64)

I realized that this was the first time in the entire class that menstruation was mentioned, and even then, more alluded too. The Victorian Era was a time of repression in general, and it made me wonder about what menstruation was thought of at the time. This kind of goes along with my final project for the class and I thought I would share my findings with all of you.

I have done a mild amount of research, and have so far come up with a big fat nothing, so I guess really what I'm saying is:

Thank you Thomas Hardy for having the guts to say SOMETHING about menstruation.

As a side note, Jude the Obscure is Hardy's last novel, and it was considered quite racy (it's not by today's standard) and I have a feeling that part of the raciness was this allusion to menstruation. You would think with the emphasis on science brought about by the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species the Victorians would be a little more up on scientific things like the fact that women have a monthly cycle, but they didn't really like to talk about anything in too much depth.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Bloody Mess

Hello all! This is my inaugural post to the blog.

One of the things I hate the most about that time of the month is how messy it can get. No matter how careful you are or how often you may change your pad, somehow most of us end up eventually staining our favorite pair of sweat pants or our brand new bed sheets.

Most of the time it's nothing that a good trip to the washing machine won't help, but me being the clean freak I am can't stand all the faded stains on my underwear.

So what's the solution to a mess-free period? I tried a Google search to see if I could find any helpful tips, but most of the results were about how not to make a mess if you have sex during your period. Which is an entirely different topic for another day.

Some people might suggest just wearing a few older pairs of underwear during your period so it doesn't matter as much if you stain them. Which is a reasonable enough idea, but you also can't always tell when you're going to start and still may end up staining one of your good pairs.

I'm a big fan of Lunapads and have been looking into maybe ordering a pair or two of their Lunapanties underwear. No need to worry about staining them because that's the whole purpose; just put them on and you're good to go!

What about you? Does anyone have any tips or advice on how to avoid big messes during your period? Or are we doomed to always make a bloody mess?

Life Clock and Menstruation Clock

Check out this art from Brigitte Coremans. She's got two different things going on here.

The first, Menstruation Clock, records a woman's daily temperature and records it on a seismograph-like chart each day. The result is a pretty neato fertility chart.

The second, Life Clock, is a series of beads. Each bead represents another egg that could be potentially fertilized. Each month, a bead moves from one side to the other. There are 500 "eggs" in this project--the colors change as the series progresses to show the gradual change from young to old, in a way.

Says Coremans:

"During the embryonic development of a feminine fetus, the egg cells are formed. In the twentieth pregnancy week there are approximately seven million eggs. During the further development in the uterus, a robust number goes lost, through which by the time of birth 'only' one million eggs remain. At the moment a women starts menstruation there are 400.000 left. Each menstruation cycle around 400 eggs die and only one (or two in case of a twin) will be released and can be fertilized. This process will repeat itself for an average of 40 years. "

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why I Love to Freebleed (and how!)

I am a freebleeder.

At least, I want to be. However, it is simply not practical for me. I have long days away from home (some days from 6:30-8) in which I am constantly doing something that prevents me from going to the bathroom to see if I have stained my clothing. Which is the other reason it's inconvenient for me. I am a poor college student/single mom and am mostly still wearing clothes I wore in High School, with a few exceptions. I cannot afford to buy new clothes if I stain them, and until there is a stain remover that removes menstrual fluids, is cheap, and doesn't wear holes in the crotch of my panties, there isn't much I can do.

Being reasonably poor leads me to cut quite a few corners though, and spending money on either tampons or clothing constantly seems like a waste. So I devised a strategy to allow myself to (kind of) freebleed without these money issues. Saves money on tampons, saves money on clothes, saves time in general.

First, I have a few pairs of underwear designated for "that time". These are pairs of underwear that I specifically purchased with the intention of ruining them (they were initially post-partum underwear). Second, I only have 2 or 3 heavy bleed days. On these days, I use tampons. After the initial release, I let the rest of my period peter out with no interference.

I like this ending with free bleeding for a few reasons. Number One: My vag gets dry after a day or two with a giant piece of cotton soaking everything up. Number Two: I only use a few tampons a month this way which makes my wallet happy and makes me feel (slightly) better about my menstruation waste in landfills (I do plan on buying a Diva Cup after I get a real job, but right now it's hard to find $10 to put gas in my car, so it's a little lower on the list right now). And Number Three: Although I like tampons a billion times better than pads, they are still a giant hassle, and I do so love cutting hassles out of my life.

I understand that this method is not practical for everyone. Everyone's cycle is different, but for me a few blood stains on the inner seam of my jeans (so far you can't see it on the outside!) is completely worth it. I feel more comfortable through most of my period, and actually it seems to help with cramping.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

saw this on a random tumblr & had to share (there was no photo credit given)

the second 'R' (re-use!)

I did a quick search and didn't see any major posts on reusable pads, so I thought I'd include a few links to sewing tutorials and/or places to purchase them online.

I first learned about the concept of reusable menstrual pads from the book Cunt by Inga Muscio (see here for a post by Jamie with an awesome quote), which I read in high school. It blew my budding little feminist mind: Not needing to spend money on pads all the time? Reusing my old flannel pajama pants or New Kids on The Block pillow cases for something useful? Sold! I made my first ones by hand without a pattern in my dorm room freshman year of college... they weren't pretty, but they worked.

Since then, I have used patterns from the internet and bought ones from small shops on etsy. This website has a huge list of patterns that you can use for making your own. Some have wings, some have instructions for snap or velcro closures, and others are just regular ol' rectangles of various thickness. These might be my favorites, just because they look incredibly comfy and well-made. I love being able to choose what materials and how many layers to use -- super thick and terry-cloth for night time, light cotton/jersey knit for easier days, etc.

If you're not crafty-inclined or simply don't have any time to spare, here are a few etsy shops that have listings for reusable pads:
Vulva Love Lovely
Mother Moon Pads
effie the pixie
... and of course, there's always lunapads and the like.

Whether or not you having a sewing machine, I would whole-heartedly (whole-vaginally?) recommend trying some out if you haven't before. Your vulva will thank you and sunshine will spill from your loins. Or something.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Celebrity Endorsements Part 2: Aana Rae

Continuing with Celebrity Endorsements who I would buy tampons from:

The Women of DC Comics
These women are the epitomy of awesome. They literally were created to do nothing but kick butt and be bad ass. Especially my girl Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman (until recently) has been THE symbol for modern woman power.
Also, for those who aren't clear these ladies are from left to right: Catwoman, Oracle (sitting), Zatanna Zatara, Black Canary, Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batwoman (sitting), Vixen, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn

Joan Jett
Because you almost cannot discuss strong bad-ass women without referencing awesome rocker Joan Jett. Joan Jett taught me that you don't have to "give a damn 'bout a bad reputation".

Nichelle Nichols
Because having the first on-screen television bi-racial kiss, as well as being FREAKING Uhura from Star Trek, makes her one of the most kicking women of all time. 

Fresh blood

Dear Reader,

I'm excited to announce that Period Piece will soon have more contributors!

If you are at all interested in being one of said contributors, please leave a comment here or shoot me an email!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Celebrity endorsements

Sometimes I like to think about how, in a perfect world, not only would commercial pads and tampons be safe and healthy for everyone, but they would also have awesome celebrity endorsements. I don't mean like from standard A-list celebrities like Julia Roberts or Taylor Swift--that sounds totally boring and predictable. I'm thinking of women that might make lady-bleeding seem tough and bad-assssssss.

My short list:

Samus is tough as shit. Super Metroid has been one of my all-time favorite games for quite a while, and when I found out Samus is actually a lady, it enhanced my fandom 10,000%. Wouldn't it be awesome to swim through lava acid and find a SuperPlus upgrade? (cue upgrade music-you can click number 16 here)

Here's even a picture of her on her day off I found on smosh.com. It made me feel more awesome about my gyno exam.


I don't even know that much about Xena, but she's obviously bad-ass. I know enough about her to know that I would wear pretty much any kind of tampon she might endorse.

Unless it was made of fire.

Lady Gaga

When she creates this kind of theatrical imagery on her own, do I really need to add much of an explanation?

Anyone you'd recommend?


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