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GEO: Tackling period poverty, period stigma ...more boundary pushing

(57 Posts)
Candidpeel Tue 10-Sep-19 13:54:16

The government equality office is tweeting about its Period Poverty Taskforce, whose 'stigma' workstream has just launched twitter.com/GEOgovuk/status/1171372416372740102

I am deeply suspicious of the good faith of the current fashionable focus on "period poverty" because

1. It always seems to be promoted by organisations like GEO, Girlguiding, Rights Info etc... that are at the forefront of erasing the idea that girls and women exist as a sex.

2. It tends to go along with the use of "gender neutral" language for this most sexed of activities i.e. 'menstruators', 'everyone who needs period products etc....'

3. It is a non issue. Sanpro is cheap. No one in the UK is tipped into poverty by the cost of sanpro. No one who can afford to eat etc... can not afford a few quid a month for sanpro. Yes there is poverty, but 'period poverty' is not a specific kind of poverty.

4. Now this stigma thing.....

yes stigma around menstruation should be removed. Girls should not be ashamed or frightened of menstruation.

But the taboo about talking about menstruation is also linked to privacy.

It is not appropriate for adults to talk to young people about sex and about intimate aspects of their body, and not talking about periods as a general topic of conversation is part of this.

These organisations promoting the idea that people of either 'gender' can menstruate, and that you can't tell what sex anyone is anyway, and that male people should be allowed in girls toilets....... it all breaks down barriers

And now they will be arguing that teachers, youth workers and peer leaders 'of both genders' talk to girls about their periods?? And if those girls feel uncomfortable about it are they just exhibiting the taboo and stigma that GEO wants to break down?? And if girls can be told to get over their old fashioned discomfort about talking about periods with adult men, shouldn't they also get over their old fashioned discomfort about discussing other sensitive sexual topics

..... you see where this is going?

CaptainKirksSpookyghost Tue 10-Sep-19 13:57:03

you see where this is going?

Everyone can.

Unfortunately how many schools are going to brave enough to say "no" we are not doing this.

Not many.

WrathoSWhlttIeKIop Tue 10-Sep-19 14:18:37

But the taboo about talking about menstruation is also linked to privacy

Thank you Candid, yes of course it is.
I had never thought about it like that.

We don't talk publicly about menstruation for good reason then.
It is to protect our girls.

Before this shitstorm I was blissfully unaware that certain men get their kicks out of this.

My eyes have been opened.

drspouse Tue 10-Sep-19 14:22:22

I do tend to think that there are young girls, though, who have no control over family income, whose parents have many other priorities on their finances (which may not include food or clothes for the kids) and these girls can't ask for money for pads.

Redshoeblueshoe Tue 10-Sep-19 14:22:44

I had never thought about it like that either.
Pushing back boundaries.

Grimbles Tue 10-Sep-19 14:24:13

I do take issue with your comment about period poverty OP. A young girl may not have her own money to buy sanpro and not be in a position where she can ask for it to be bought for her. She may feel the same discomfort and embarrassment discussing periods at home than she would anywhere else.

So it does exist, just not in the way you might think.

DCIRozHuntley Tue 10-Sep-19 14:27:23

I'd never really thought about the privacy aspect.

My daughters are still in infant school but things like wiping bottoms after poos etc, tend to be done by me. Daddy will do it, but only if I'm not there, or grandma. I think I'd follow the same pattern for talking about periods - ideally a parent, certainly a close family member, preferably of the same sex ie female.

The talk of teenage girls asking transwomen how to use tampons (which, granted, the stuff I've seen was by a particularly red-flaggy individual) just does not compute. I wouldn't have asked a male teacher or a stranger in the loo for sanpro either. It's so deeply personal.

Of course there shouldn't be stigma ie feelings of shame, period huts etc, and some myths need addressing, but it is actually quite normal and healthy to have boundaries around bodily functions, especially those relating to sex organs.

emmy1997 Tue 10-Sep-19 14:28:14

I never speak to anyone about female issues especially regarding periods. Honestly I don't feel that there is period poverty is this country even for those who are in low income. Tesco pads/ tampons are 25p. Even on low income 25p isn't a lot. I feel that it's a much wider issue at hand. Tampons/ pads should be free to girls and women 10-25 and should be handed at school and education centres. Should always be an option

ZuttZeVootEeeVro Tue 10-Sep-19 14:34:00

A young girl may not have her own money to buy sanpro and not be in a position where she can ask for it to be bought for her. She may feel the same discomfort and embarrassment discussing periods at home than she would anywhere else.

The same girl will have problems getting hold of underwear, deodorant, shampoo. It's more likely to be a poverty and or communication problem than specifically period poverty.

I do think 'period poverty' is been used as an excuse to push boundaries.

WrathoSWhlttIeKIop Tue 10-Sep-19 14:34:59

If a young girl has no means of buying products, surely It is likely to be a lack of education (or awareness) of menstrual issues rather than a lack of cash.

WrathoSWhlttIeKIop Tue 10-Sep-19 14:36:41

So now we know.

Period poverty is being used to push boundaries.

WrathoSWhlttIeKIop Tue 10-Sep-19 14:38:37

Now who has been trying to promote period poverty, I wonder.

CaptainKirksSpookyghost Tue 10-Sep-19 14:39:19

Let not forget that certain people with a period fetish will love Young girls openly talking about this stuff in front of everyone.

Grimbles Tue 10-Sep-19 14:46:12

The same girl will have problems getting hold of underwear, deodorant, shampoo

Not necessarily. Everyone in the house would use shampoo and deodorant so the onus wouldn't be on a young girl to specifically ask for it to be bought just for her.

Inebriati Tue 10-Sep-19 14:50:31

I agree with the main point of this thread. Its all aimed at breaking down girls boundaries and expectation to any right to privacy, not actually removing any 'taboos' or obstacles.
There is a problem with boys period shaming girls, which is one reason why mixed sex toilets don't work.

There is a terrible problem with poverty in the UK, it affects girls (and boys) who don't have an income, and it includes things like not being able to wash, to clean their teeth, wash their hair, launder their clothes or eat.

'sanpro only costs 25p' isn't actually very helpful. If you don't live near enough to Tesco to walk there and buy it, then its of no use to you. Think of the reality of being 11 or 12 years old and having to walk to Tesco to buy sanpro when you do not have any money at all.

Inebriati Tue 10-Sep-19 14:59:27

There are hundreds of thousands of households in the UK - working families, not just those on benefits - that use food banks. No one buys deodorant before food.

''70% of families using food banks had dependent children''
speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/SPERI-Brief-32-Family-hunger-in-times-of-austerity.pdf

''The results indicate that severe levels of poverty are present in contemporary Britain. Evidence of repeat food bank use demonstrates that distributing emergency food is not a long-term solution to the problem of food poverty.”''
www.biomedcentral.com/about/press-centre/science-press-releases/21-11-17

Hopesorfears Tue 10-Sep-19 15:05:14

We have free sanitary products available in school. There are posters up. I don't usually talk about it but they are in a container and sometimes boys ask what it is, and I tell them. Girls sometimes come to get the products and I speak matter of factly to them, I don't want them to feel embarrassed. I'm saying all this to see if this is in way viewed as "boundary breaking" as I felt not being ashamed of periods, that it's just a part of being female, was a good thing. Certainly no need to have in depth discussions but a kind of, you're female, you're likely to have periods, if so here are some products to use if you run out, was all good?

sashh Tue 10-Sep-19 15:14:30

3. It is a non issue. Sanpro is cheap. No one in the UK is tipped into poverty by the cost of sanpro. No one who can afford to eat etc... can not afford a few quid a month for sanpro. Yes there is poverty, but 'period poverty' is not a specific kind of poverty.

I would go through 10 - 15 pads / tampons in 24 hours for 5 days then a couple of relatively lighter days, period poverty exists.

But you are spoton with the lowering boundaries.

TileFloors Tue 10-Sep-19 15:17:45

This is a really interesting perspective, thank you. I was sexually abused in my teens by a man, and have only quite recently worked out that one of the ways he groomed me was by encouraging me to talk about my periods with him. It was a definite way of breaking down my boundaries. I find the distinction between shame and privacy a really helpful one.

Fallingirl Tue 10-Sep-19 15:21:47

Breaking poverty up into all manner of “sub-poverties” mask the problem that the country has a masive problem with increasing poverty full stop.

In the same way that it is/would have been useful to have a word for those people who can get pregnant, have periods, do the lions share of unpaid domestic work etc., one word that captures what links all these people, it is useful to have a word that captures what all the people who suffer various kinds of poverties have in common. They are poor.

“Period poverty” as a term allows organisation and individuals to virtue signal without making any changes to causes of poverty.

And on the subject of privacy, surely J. Yaniv has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt, that males should stay a very long way away from anything to do with sanpro and periods.

Popchyk Tue 10-Sep-19 15:27:43

On the face of it, it's an easy fix isn't it? Farm the work out to lobby groups, chuck taxpayers' money at it. Crow about its success on Twitter. Done.

Whereas the GEO announced an investigation over a year ago into why young girls are identifying as boys in such large numbers and seeking medical and surgical intervention.

And have done precisely nothing about it since.

Must be in the Too Difficult pile.

Here are details of the Period Poverty Taskforce:

www.gov.uk/government/news/period-poverty-taskforce-meets-for-the-first-time

Taskforce chaired by Minister for Women & Equalities, Plan International UK and Procter & Gamble

CaptainKirksSpookyghost Tue 10-Sep-19 15:30:17

of course an actual solution would be to provide free basic sanitary protection, but that's not going to happen.

Candidpeel Tue 10-Sep-19 15:39:13

A young girl may not have her own money to buy sanpro and not be in a position where she can ask for it to be bought for her. She may feel the same discomfort and embarrassment discussing periods at home than she would anywhere else.

If parents are not providing basic essentials of life then that is neglect. If you have a daughter then you know that at some point probably in her pre-teen years she is going to start her period. Making her feel embarrassment or discomfort about that and leaving her without sanpro is emotional abuse.

Sure food banks should provide sanpro. They also provide pasta, but we don't talk about 'pasta poverty' (whether food banks are a good idea or not is a whole other question)

butteryellow Tue 10-Sep-19 15:42:14

On the face of it, it's an easy fix isn't it? Farm the work out to lobby groups, chuck taxpayers' money at it. Crow about its success on Twitter. Done.

This is exactly it. This is a problem solved by throwing money at it, so there is sanpro available in schools (much like condoms were at uni - I'd just go down and grab a couple of handfuls every once in a while). It's low-effort activism, which feels a bit dangerous, but yes, also pushes boundaries.

ArnoldWhatshisknickers Tue 10-Sep-19 15:58:14

of course an actual solution would be to provide free basic sanitary protection, but that's not going to happen

I work in a public building which does just that. Free tampons and sanitary towels are available in each cubicle of the ladies toilets, kept topped up by cleaners, no need to ask.

If schools/government are serious about ensuring any girl who is struggling, or just caught short, can access sanitary provision they would do the same and make the girls toilets strictly single sex.

Problem solved. Next.

Incidently did I imagine it or did this start out as an argument over VAT on sanitary products which has since been highjacked by 'virtue-signallers-r-us'? I was always more annoyed about VAT on bog roll myself, especially given how much more women use than men.

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