Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Ladies, everyone knows what you're doing when you bring that tiny, zip-up pouch into the bathroom. It’s not some great mystery. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a woman lugs her clutch, satchel, weekender, or backpack into the bathroom, she’s on her period. No more, we say; we’re calling for the days of tampon-hiding to end.
I mean, what were you hoping that people thought? That you were stealing toilet paper from Chipotle? That you have a coke problem? No one would just choose to bring all of their personal belongings into the same windowless room in which they void their bowels. There’s nothing convenient about having your purse with you — there is no safe place to put it, it almost always ends up mysteriously wet in the most illogical places (half of the handle, inside the bag), and there’s a good chance you will forget it lodged behind the sink after you catch yourself in the mirror and realize that your friends have let you walk around in public all night looking like a SWAMP MONSTER who watched one YouTube makeup tutorial and doesn’t understand how human faces work. It’s just not fucking worth it. The jig is up.
This is why I’m calling for an open-carry policy when it comes to all things feminine hygiene. Women of the world, why must we conceal our tampons and pads in pouches and cases when we are only trying to ensure our safety as well as the safety of our jean shorts? In this time of ever-shrinking handbags and ever-multiplying lettered creams, we can no longer afford to lose precious purse space to something that will eventually be tucked away in God’s Purse.
Sisters, are we condemned to forever conduct our public tampon exchanges like drug deals? We whisper, talk in code, slip supers to each other behind handshakes and under tables. Our shame is so strong, so heavy, that even a maxi-overnight-extra-heavy pad with flexi-wings can’t contain it.
Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Once, in sixth-grade, right around the time my class started Sex Ed, a girl dropped her Coach wristlet and the world’s tiniest, daintiest OB tampon tumbled out. The room stretched into a cold, taut silence. There it was: a thing that contained another thing that went into a women’s thing. Then, almost a fraction of a second later, every boy erupted into a chorus of "ewwww"s and gagging noises, as if they had spent that momentary pause communing psychically about the right response. Pretty much every woman I know has experienced or witnessed a moment like this. We’re all still haunted by the Seventeen Traumarama letters of our youth.
But, of course, it goes further back than that. Leviticus 15:19: “And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.” Translation: “Don’t let that chick in my tent, she’s bleeding from her genitals and that’s disgusting, even though the God I believe in made her this way. Hey, wanna go stone some people?” Of course women subconsciously (if not consciously) think their periods are dirty; pretty much everything written before The Book of Judy Blume tells women that menstrual blood is poisonous, that it can kill crops and plants, that it drives dogs mad. Sure, we no longer have to go on tower rest when it’s that time of the month, but we’re still hiding. We smuggle “sanitary napkins” into bathrooms like they’re butts filled with coke; every Kotex ad pretends women bleed a type of magically phosphorescent liquid that would be more at home in a snow globe.
Frankly, a woman openly displaying a period product shouldn’t just feel comfortable; she should be celebrated! She is doing a public service to all subway benches, restaurant seats, and bedsheets. Every month, women face down the elevator doors in The Shining with just a tiny cylinder on a string to help us. We don’t cry or scream; we just sigh, complain about bloating, and buy chocolate. That is so punk! PERIODS ARE PUNK! TAMPONS ARE PUNK! Wielding a tampon is like carrying a sword triumphantly into battle. Think of that Tampax Pearl as your vaginal javelin, the cotton Cthulhu that lies within your dark, pulsating R'lyeh, and carry it with pride.
Besides, at the end of the day, tampons and pads are just wads of cotton, not something that could physically harm or kill another human being with memories and dreams and loved ones. Gosh, who would let anyone openly carry something like that?