Jessie Kahnweiler is no stranger to talking about tough topics. In her semi-autobiographical series, The Skinny, the filmmaker, actress, and director explores what it's like to live with bulimia, in her short film Meet My Rapist she talks about her own sexual assault, and in the documentary Jessie Gets Arrested, she goes out and actually tries to get arrested to showcase the benefits of her white privilege.
Now, Kahnweiler is applying her artistic eye to period sex. Or, more accurately, having oral sex while on your period (and no, we're not talking about blow jobs). Kahnweiler's latest project, which debuted today, is a parody ad for Tampax that attempts to shatter the "wow I feel gross" feelings that many people who get periods have around that time of the month. Feelings of shame about their menstruating bodies often turn women off from having period sex at all, which is why Kahnweiler decided to take period sex beyond the "let's grab a towel" moment and actually show a man going down on his partner while she bleeds. If your first thought is how gross it is for him to lick a bloody vagina, remember that this is a tampon commercial (albeit a fake one), and the whole point of tampons is to stop the blood from leaking out.
Watch the video below, but just remember: This is not a real Tampax commercial.
As we can see, the woman in this video was feeling a little apprehensive about having sex while on her period, and that's something Kahnweiler brought into the story from her own life. "When I was 22, I dated a guy who asked me to shower before he would touch my pussy," she says. Instead of being upset at him, she would get into the tub, wash her vulva, and blame herself. "I felt so ashamed of my vagina that I began to see my body as the main problem in our relationship," she says. And all of that happened when she wasn't even menstruating. When she was on her period, he wouldn't even be in the same room as her.
Later, Kahnweiler found a partner who had no problems with her vagina, even when it was bleeding. When he offered to go down on her while she was on her period, Kahnweiler's first instinct was "no way." But then he explained that oral period sex isn't a problem when she was using a tampon (and, fyi, a menstrual cup would work the same way) and it was like a lightbulb went off in Kahnweiler's mind. "I was like, 'Oh my god, what have I been doing the past 32 years of my life not getting head on my period? That's crazy,'" she says.
So when she was thinking up the script of her parody Tampax ad, it was really important to Kahnweiler that the man took charge. "I really wanted the guy to be like, 'Hey, this is hot' and for the girl to be like 'Holy shit,'" she says. For Kahnweiler, it was all about celebrating the moment, and not shaming the woman for being on her period or the man for feeling a little weird about going down on her at first (until another dude pops in to say, "Don't worry, bro, Tampax is 100% absorbent"). "Listen, I don't know what it's like to eat pussy on a period," she says. "I'm sure it's weird. But let's remove the shame and approach it in a very compassionate way."