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Periods and Policing Women’s Bodies

Periods. Half of the worlds population gets them, and yet they are still a taboo subject for many.

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Bring up the subject of periods at a party and most likely you’ll be greeted with disdain and sometimes disgust. It is a subject shrouded in bullshit myths, used as an excuse for a woman not to be a valid candidate for President, or as a soldier, or an astronaut.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEvS9RXN43Q

There are a lot of reasons why the subject of periods is one we have to address. For a lot of women, getting your period implies cramps, mood swings, sometimes fainting and often a lot of sleeping. But for many more women, periods are also a social, political and health issue. Women who don’t have access to sanitary products, because they are homeless, living in poverty or living in a culture where menstruation is ignored and pushed into the shadows, struggle every month with the choice between eating and paying for tampons. Feeling uncomfortable, or unclean, when you are menstruating should not be acceptable in the 21st century where there is abundant access to sanitary products in the Western World.  UNICEF estimates that 10% of African girls miss school during their period – due to shame, lack of access to products or habit. That’s two months out of the year.

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Bustle have released a video on the struggles of menstruation when you are homeless. The film focusses on the experiences of women in New York – which is now the first state to make it law that sanitary products are free and available in public schools, homeless shelters and jails. Policy changes such as this are a big part of eliminating the taboo around menstruation – but I feel that it comes from an issue much more deeply ingrained in the policing of women’s bodies throughout all of our culture rather than just a problem with access to products.

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When, in the UK, the #endtampontax campaign drew upon the hypocritical fact that men’s razors were considered a “necessity” and therefore not taxed, whilst sanitary products were. Is this just a hangover from the 50s, where men were expected to wear suits and be clean shaved to get a job? Or is it that women’s products are not only not considered a necessity, but actually used as a tool for oppression. The Pink Tax campaign in 2015 highlighted the difference between beauty products sold for men and women – products which essentially do the same things (down to Bic Pens) are gendered (normally by being pink and blue), and always more expensive in the “female” version.

Regardless of why we are in this position, it can’t be denied that one of the last taboos of menstruation is around sex. Pornography of women who are on their periods just doesn’t exist. It’s generally, in the West anyway, considered a bit kinky or fetishistic to have sex on your period – and trying to get oral sex while riding the crimson wave is like bringing a horse to water; you can’t make it drink.

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So how can we break down the taboos around menstruation? Well, today I am releasing an adult short film, that includes menstruation, oral sex, and vampires. I hope it will break down some barriers, and inspire some people to understand that menstruation is not only natural, but it can be sexy. Especially if you are a demon of the night…

Watch the trailer for “Can Vampires Smell My Period?” below! Or watch on XConfessions now.


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