Homelessness is a difficult topic. Many of us still perceive the homeless as lazy, dirty, and mostly suffering from drug or alcohol problems. Although many people are not homeless by choice. Also, homelessness can’t be solved by giving a person food and money. Although that is a kind gesture, this only alleviates the problem temporarily.
Another problem that rises for homeless women. Their period. There’s never a good time to have a period, no woman actively looks forward to having one. They’re not only an inconvenience, but very uncomfortable and messy. I can’t begin imagine what it must be like to live on the streets and be unable to scrape enough money together for food, let alone for sanitation products. Not to mention being unable to use most bathroom facilities.
According to the Huffington Post the issue has gotten so bad that in London, women on the streets have to use bits of cloth to absorb blood or are “forced to go without,” because homeless shelters are unable to provide adequate resources. Often these women are forced to steal tampons or pads.
No one should be forced to choose
So on 16 April I signed a petition called #TheHomelessPeriod. This initiative believes that tampons and towels should be made available through homeless shelters, the same way the government provides condoms. So far the petition has attracted more than 80,000 signatures so far. The reason I signed was because as women, we don’t ask to menstruate. And absolutely nobody should be forced to chose between food or tampons.
Sanitary ware in this country is classed as a “luxury, non-essential item” and is taxed at five per cent. Precisely what could be considered luxurious about the monthly blood flow that causes us women to cripple over in agony? But without the means to purchase these simple “luxuries”, homeless women are constantly forced to go without.
Last month, artist Rupi Kaur posted a photo on Instagram that shows a patch of period blood on a woman’s trousers and bed sheets. It captures the 22-year-old fully clothed on a bed, facing away from the camera, during menstruation. The post was part of a project called “period,” which challenges social stigma around women and periods. Soon after, Instagram removed the image and told Kaur that it didn’t follow its “Community Guidelines.”
Instagram’s bad move
Kaur then took to Facebook to write: “Thank you Instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. You deleted my photo twice stating that it goes against community guidelines. I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified, pornified. and treated less than human. Thank you.”
I despise how periods are still a taboo topic in today’s society. I think it was a poor move on Instagram’s behalf. It’s 2015 for crying out loud. Why should they be hushed up? Do we still need to hide tampons and pads up our sleeves before heading to the toilet? Why is ‘Are you on the blob?’ an insult when a woman raises her voice or snaps? And why do our dads look the other way when we fling a box of tampons into the trolley? Furthermore, why is blue liquid shown in tampon and pad adverts? It isn’t blue.
The period stain that marks the bed sheets isn’t one to be ashamed of. Shaming women by making them feel gross about their natural bodily function is the stain we need to wash out.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.