In the mood for a scary movie but tired of the same old story-lines? We suggest putting your watch list to the test! If you're not familiar with the Bechdel test, it's a way to determine the representation of women in any given movie. The test has three rules, and you'd be surprised (and depressed) to learn how many movies don't pass:
1.It has to have at least two named women in it
2. They have to have a conversation with each other
3.About something other than a man
In honour of the season of the witch, here's four of our fave female fronted films that up-end horror movie tropes and are sure to put you in the mood for some tricks and treats. Happy haunting!
Watch this movie and I promise, you'll never want to go spelunking again! Seeing this all-woman crew of daredevils navigate the pitch-black caverns and tight spaces of an Appalachian cave is thrilling enough on it's own - especially if you're the claustrophobic type - but The Descent offers so much more in terms of scares, once the lights go out. Scenes from this film still creep into my mind years later, whenever I find myself in complete darkness.
A Canadian horror classic! Ginger Snaps is a werewolf movie on it's surface, but at it's heart is a clever commentary on society's fear of female sexuality. The close bond between two sisters, becomes strained when one is bitten by a werewolf and starts to develop a taste for human flesh.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Ok, so technically this one doesn't pass the Bechdel test, due to the main characters' lack of a name, but we'll let it slide this time. Dubbed the worlds first "Iranian Vampire Spaghetti Western," the film follows the girl - a Chador-clad vampire who preys on men who do bad things to women - as she skateboards through the dark suburban streets of a no-good town (literally named "Bad City,") stalking her next kill. Written in Farsi and filmed in black and white, "Girl" is light on dialogue but heavy on moody atmospherics and iconic visuals.
Honestly, where would we even be without The Craft? If you're an elder millennial, chances are your adolescence featured at least one sleepover screening of The Craft, followed by a test of your collective witchy powers with a rousing game of "Light as a feather, stiff as a board."
Here in Canada, we’re heading towards winter. I love the crisp fall air and returning to wearing flannel whenever the opportunity arises, but the change in seasons is also an invitation to check in on my self care. The colder weather can present some challenges to us all and it’s important to winterize yourself and your life as the leaves fall. Here’s six ways to you can take care of yourself as we approach the winter season.
Get Outside and Get Some Fresh Air
I know, it’s colder, but if you can make a habit of getting outside for some fresh air, you’ll reap a lot of benefits for your mental and physical health. Getting outside is good for your vitamin D levels, stress levels and levels of physical activity. You can train for an autumnal 5K or go hiking, or take some kids (yours or borrowed!) to a pumpkin patch or apple picking. Even a walk through a local park to admire the leaves is a great way to get some outside time.
Prepare Yourself For Colder Weather
Set aside an hour or two on a day off to inspect your warm weather gear. It’s a great chance to make sure your coat and boots are ready to go and that you can locate both gloves. Mending and caring for clothes we already have is a key way to cut down on clothing waste.
While you’re at it, consider your home. Insulate your window and check in on your programmable thermostat, if you have one. Not only does this keep you warm, it minimizes your carbon impact on the planet!
Prepare For Cold And Flu Season
Biggest cold weather party pooper? That would be cold and flu viruses. Be proactive. Consider getting a flu shot (herd immunity protects you and others!) and tuck some hand sanitizer into your bag. Protect yourself by keeping your hands clean and getting lots of sleep.
Consider putting together a cold bug survival kit. Stock up your favourite tea, cough lozenges, some painkillers and handkerchiefs so you have them to hand the second you feel that telltale throat tickle.
Practice Setting Boundaries (Or Having Difficult Conversations)
Ah, Thanksgiving. Delicious food. Football marathons. Time with family. With both Canada and the US in the midst of turbulent political times, it can be a time of hard conversations amongst family members. Don’t panic - prepare. Consider ways to set boundaries to ensure that everyone has fun. Prepare some alternative, safe topics of conversation. Learn about de-escalation and share your concerns with family members.
For some of us, family can be hard. If you can’t find a way to feel safe, remember it’s 100% okay to skip a family occasion. Blame outrageous flight prices or just issue a simple no. Sometimes setting firm boundaries is the safest way to be.
Try A New Vegetable
Fall is a great opportunity to change it up. Squashes, pumpkins, leafy greens and fennel are at their best as the cooler weather comes. Try out a new vegetable - they’re good for you! Getting your vitamins, especially in bright orange or dark green veggies, helps keep you healthy. Our recommendation is this easy vegan butternut squash soup to keep you warm and full of beta-carotene.
(NB. In no way are we suggesting you give up your Halloween candy or pumpkin pie. Some things are sacred.)
Take Up Something New
Lots of folks feel a bit blue as the snow approaches. If you’re cooped up at home, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut of Netflix and pyjamas. We would never knock a TV marathon, but taking some time over the fall to take up a new skill or hobby can positively impact your mental health. You could take swimming lessons, learn to knit, join a choir or get involved in volunteering. The colder months can mean more time indoors, but it’s never a bad time to get out of your comfort zone.
Whenever the seasons change, it’s always a good time to check in around your health and well-being. Sometimes, some simple habits can make a big difference. Try one or two of these tips to take on the new season with the vibrancy autumn demands.
Plastic is a fact of everyday life. No matter how #plasticfree your lifestyle is, we are all, at some point, using plastic - and it makes sense. Plastic is durable, waterproof and affordable. It can come in a variety of incarnations - clear plastic sandwich bags, brightly-coloured children’s toys and industrial tools. Consumers buy plastic every week - in food packaging, cleaning supplies and in the personal care aisle. They buy them every time they pick up a bag of conventional disposable pads and tampons.
Disposable pads and tampons are minefields of plastic. A standard tampon not only can have a plastic wrapper and applicator, but the tampon itself often contains polyester in the wadding and string itself. The average menstrual pad is estimated to be nearly 90% plastic, with the average package of disposable pads containing as much plastic as five disposable shopping bags.
Obviously, all this plastic adds up. Our own estimates place the number of pads and tampons entering North American landfills in excess of 20 billion annually, and it is well-known that tampon applicators litter beaches and pollute oceans. None of this plastic can be recycled. Period products are classified as medical waste, and do not enter recycling streams. It is estimated that these products will take 500 years to decompose - meaning if Queen Elizabeth I had used tampons, they’d still be around.
If Queen Elizabeth I had used tampons, they’d still be around.
However, it doesn’t just stop at garbage. All that plastic has a major impact on our climate. Plastic is primarily made from fossil fuels, and in North America, that means ethane from natural gas, often the byproduct of fracking. We cannot continue to consume plastic at this rate. By 2050, the greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatons—10-13 percent of the entire remaining carbon budget. With current planned expansions by plastic and petrochemical producers, there is no chance of capping global temperature rise at 1.5 ℃. Plastic isn’t just filling garbage cans. It’s endangering life on this planet.
Extrapolating from data collected on plastic bag usage, we estimate that every menstruating human uses over 42 lbs of fossil fuel and 73 gallons of clean water over their lifetime. This requires a ton of plastic that often just gets put in the trash. Our addiction to plastic is strangling the things we need for life on Earth - clean water and air.
Plastic isn’t just filling garbage cans. It’s endangering life on this planet.
Switching to reusable products is one way to reduce your personal plastic use, and this needs to be encouraged on a systemic level (in Canada, only 37% of overall plastic use is in durable products - the rest is single-use plastic or packaging). However, we need new technologies, new systems and new strategies. Overall, we need the political will at every level of government to generate a carbon-neutral economy. Please choose reusables, but also, don’t forget to choose elected officials who support ecological sustainability.
We all use plastic. We need to find a way to use it so our planet will last as long as our trash does.
Menstruationmyths and beliefs are passed on from generation-to-generation around the world. Different cultures or religions hold specific practices and beliefs, but overwhelmingly, menstruators deal with a culture that holds periods as taboo and deeply shameful. This means that simply having a period can complicate everyday events like family gatherings, going to school and can even result in death.
In liberal Western cultures, there’s a strongstigma that surrounds periods. Menstruators are taught to conceal their period because it’s considered embarrassing. In our daily language, we use unflattering terms for menstruation such as Aunt Flow, the curse, and Bloody Mary. If there’s a visible period stain, we’re immediately ashamed. Even when we’re are on their way to the bathroom, we feel the need to hide tampons in our pockets, purses, or up our sleeves. It’s like the walk of shame. While for many, it’s no big deal to keep their cycle of the month a secret, it’s actually disempowering. We’re trained from an early age that our period is repulsive.
This belief adds to theperiod povertyproblem. Some people are so embarrassed to talk about their period that they don’t know how to ask for help when they can’t afford period products. This impacts millions of people, especially when they have to choose between food or tampons.
It can get worse in the Global South, where these problems are multiplied by extreme poverty. Due to a huge gap in access to sexual and reproductive health education, many girls are exposed to unprotected sex, pregnancies, STDs, and infections.Many girls miss school each month during their periods because they don’t havereliable access to menstrual products. According toZanaAfrica Foundation, 65% of girls in Kenya cannot regularly access sanitary pads. And it’s been reported that 10% of young girls havetransactional sexin exchange for pads, putting them in a vulnerable and dangerous situation. (Aisle works to alleviate period poverty through our Dignity Projects).
Menstrual taboo appears throughout the world.In some parts of Nepal, the cultural practice is for menstruators to leave their home and live in a menstruation hut for the duration of their period. This practice is called Chhaupadi. These menstruation huts are unsanitary, and there have been reports of death due to lack ofmenstrual hygiene andanimal attacks. The good news is a bill has been passed last year in Nepal that will criminalize anyone who forces a woman into a menstrual hut (the practice was banned in 2005). However, this is no guarantee; families are still practicing this century-old tradition, as well as the belief that menstruation causes ritual impurity.
Being of Indian descent and growing up around a religion called Jainism, I was presented with a set of rules when I started my period at the age of 11. The rules basically state that menstrual blood is considered impure and a person with a period is not allowed to touch anything, including clothes, food, and they aren’t allowed to attend temples or pray. On the 4th day of my cycle, I had to wash my clothes and wash my hair to make myself *clean* again and then I was allowed to touch everything again. My parents weren’t super strict on this rule. My grandmother, however, was very strict. Once, I accidentally touched her, and she felt the need to immediately take a shower and wash her hair.
While I respect my family and their beliefs, I never understood this rule. I followed this rule until I was about 18 years old, but I’ve also never been a religious person. It became something I let go.
To be honest, this practice actually made me feel devalued. Having a period is a natural process, and this rule made me feel like something was “wrong” with me. I had to always announce when I was on my period and it just felt like a huge burden on top of just having my period and dealing with the cramps and pain that came with it. Once, as a child, there was an event at my cousin’s house where everyone was informed that I was on my period, and I had to sit in a chair on the side. My aunt came up to me and waved her finger at me and told me to stay in that chair and not move or touch anything. Years later, as an adult, these beliefs caused conflict between me and my aunt.
Having to process this as a child made no sense to me, however, as an adult, I understand that it was a cultural practice rooted in menstrual taboo. It looks like the next generation creating their own beliefs. We are able to choose whether to participate or not in these traditions. However, not everyone around the world is as lucky, whether because of culture, poverty or simple misinformation. Periods are normal, and this taboo has to go.
What has your experience been with culture and menstruation? Share your thoughts with us on social media.
Priya Shah is a Chicago-based freelance copywriter and serial blogger armed with a journalism degree and a strong background in providing clients with value, creativity, and a killer voice. She’s also a world traveler, has lived abroad, and loves exploring other cultures.
"But I Don't Bleed!" Honoring Your Cycles For People Without Uteruses
by Guest Blogger
Not to state the obvious, but not everyone has a uterus. Whether your uterus was removed by choice or circumstance, or you were born without one for one reason or another, many people don’t have uteruses, and many of those people are still women or identify with the feminine. Everyone, including cisgender men, trans women, non-binary people without uteruses, and people who’ve had hysterectomies all still experience physical and emotional cycles. Finding ways to connect to and honor those cycles may be healing even if you don’t experience a menstrual cycle.
Below are some suggestions on how to honor your cycles, particularly if you do not have a uterus.
Celebrate your body, as it is and as it has been. Whether you feel young or old, your body already has quite the history. Learn about your body; study your physical form. You might want to create a timeline of important events and experiences that your body has been through, whether it’s your own birth, surgeries, transitions, illnesses, recoveries, parenting other humans, or anything else that feels significant. Connect with your body, through activities like sex, movement, and eating. Notice what your body needs and wants, and how that varies from day-to-day, minute-to-minute. These variations themselves are a cycle of fluctuations that may be universal and at the same time unique to you.
Learn about the cycles you are experiencing. All living bodies are constantly cycling, whether they are menstruating or not. Two cycles that all of us experience are the daily cycle and the moon cycle. Every 24 hours, through movements of the sun, moon, and earth, we experience a cycle that moves us through midnight, morning, afternoon, evening, and back again. These time periods parallel the menstrual cycle, with midnight feeling similar to a period bleed, dawn feeling similar to the follicular phase, noon paralleling ovulation, and dusk mirroring the luteal phase. The moon cycle is a 28 day cycle that also has similar phases to the menstrual cycle: beginning with a new moon (menstruation/period), the moon waxes into a quarter moon (follicular phase), then full moon (ovulation), and finally wanes into another quarter moon (luteal phase) as it rotates towards the next new moon. People with penises also experience cyclical hormonal cycles, with higher testosterone levels in the mornings that taper off as the day goes on. You can read more about the menstrual cycle here, and think about other cycles that you experience that may parallel.
Create rituals around cycles. Just because you don’t have a uterus or menstruate does not mean that you don’t also need rest and release, that you aren’t also experiencing times of heightened creativity, libido, or extroversion. Consider the cycles you are experiencing and brainstorm rituals around those cycles that would feel good to you. Since the 28 day moon cycle is the same length as the average menstrual cycle, following the moon cycle as your main cycle can be helpful. Perhaps you give yourself some extra rest around the new moon, and schedule an exciting trip or hot date around the full moon. You could eat your favorite chocolate and head to bed early on the new moon and plan some extra fun sex—with yourself or partners—around the full moon. The possibilities are endless; get creative about what works for you.
Remember that you’re worth honoring. In case you need a reminder: your organs are just that, organs. Your body, your gender, your personhood are amazing and deserve honoring, at every stage of every cycle. You don’t need a uterus to track, honor, and live according to your cycles. Whether you choose to honor the cycles you’ve experienced throughout your lifetime, the daily cycle, the moon cycle, or one of the many other cycles we experience, it is importnat to remember that you—a cyclical being—are worth honoring.
Whether you no longer have a uterus or never had one to begin with, your body is an amazing, cyclical organism and there are many cycles that you experience. Learning more about your cycles and choosing to honor them can support your embodiment, mental health, and more.
Beth Rich is a queer educator and lifespan doula who works at the thresholds and intersections of menstruation, family-building, pregnancy, birth, loss, and other life transitions. They are a non-binary human who's excited to talk about bodies, periods, birth, and sex in language that holds space for all of us. Discover more of their work at thebethrich.com or on Instagram @thebethrich.
I’m not actually saying your choice of couch or mattress or sweatpants is political (although it might, depending on the supply chain and environmental impact of your choice). I’m talking about the actual experience of comfort, and how choosing to be comfortable is a radical act of political self-love.
Who gets to be comfortable in this world? Short answer: those who benefit from the power structures that dictate how our world works. It’s uncomfortable to be the odd one out; the only person of colour in the room, to find out that the dress isn’t made in your size, to be in the room when your boss makes the sexist joke, to live in a closet. Comfort is a privilege, and when you don’t have it, the world will never let you forget it. I think this is why checking your privilege feels so threatening - the ease you took for granted is suddenly gone.
Comfort is a big part of what we try to do here at Lunapads, along with other values like sustainability, authenticity and unabashed feminism. Why? It’s because we believe in the political power of feeling comfortable in your body by making personal care choices that feel good for you. We work in an industry that sells products that are laden in shame; that tell you your body is wrong or dirty. We’re obsessed with making menstruation invisible but cannot provide sufficient products for everyone to have a dignified period. We erase the menstruation of trans and nonbinary folks. We create mountains of trash to manage the cultural belief that periods are gross and need to be hidden away. To have a good period - to make space for your period and do it on your own terms - is a decision to assert your right to comfort.
So, let’s think through how we can make things more comfortable. Start by making the world more comfortable for others. Give space where you need to. Don’t misgender people, and apologize quickly if you do. Take an anti-racism workshop. Read a book or watch a movie that centres a worldview other than your own. Consider if you are perpetuating ableism, through your language or environment. It can be awful to spend time considering how you benefit from privileges that prioritize your comfort over others. Do it anyway.
And once you’re done, don’t be afraid to consider your own comfort. You don’t owe the world performance or productivity - resting is a powerful if underappreciated form of resistance. Take a sick day if you need it. Book that vacation. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Take time to relax and do things you love. And, yes, have a comfortable period - make enough space for your menstruation. Don’t be ashamed of it. Your body is amazing.
We all have a right to be comfortable, and we can all learn a lot by getting uncomfortable. However, we can use comfort to be transformative and powerful. When we support each other, we can make each other feel more comfortable and more empowered. Embrace the political power of your comfort. It can tell you more than you know.
A Period Emoji Is Coming Later This Year And Texting Just Got Way Better
by Guest Blogger
I don’t talk about my period very much when I’m chatting with friends and family on mobile, mainly because I have an IUD that stopped my period about a year ago. But when I did talk about my period, I used to use a lot of code words because my then-boyfriend was squeamish about periods and said “gross” almost every time I brought up the fact that my uterus was bleeding. (That’s what period-shaming looks like, if you’re wondering.)
When I asked a few friends how they’ve been talking about their periods on mobile, I got a lot of creative responses. A couple use the shark emoji to represent the period euphemism “shark week.” Some use the red circle or the volcano emojis to represent their periods, while others use a few different sick-face emojis to show how their periods make them feel. And a couple of my friends threw out some GIFs that illustrate their period experiences, like Leslie Knope saying “everything hurts, and I’m dying” or the hallway flooding with blood in the movie The Shining.
But, soon, we can all do away with period code words and euphemisms because a period emoji is finally coming. Girls’ rights charity Plan International UK has been campaigning for a period emoji since 2017 in an effort to end period-shaming and stigma, and the results of their efforts is a glorious digitized drop of blood that we’ll all be able to use later this year.
Fighting Period Shame Through Emojis
Plan International UK ran a survey in the UK and found that period shame and stigma still affects menstruators daily and makes people who menstruate uncomfortable talking to friends and family about their periods. Because emojis are one of the fastest growing global languages, says Plan International UK, the organization believes having a period emoji might help people feel more comfortable talking about periods.
The organization’s campaign for the period emoji officially launched in May 2017, with nearly half of women in the UK ages 18 to 34 saying they’d use a period emoji if one became available, and that having a period emoji would make it easier for them to talk about their periods with friends and partners. The organization designed five period emoji options — a menstrual pad, a monthly calendar, smiling blood droplets, a uterus, and period pants — and held a public vote, according to The Guardian. The period pants won the popular vote, says The Guardian, but Unicode Consortium, the California-based organization that maintains and regulates emojis, rejected the design.
So Plan International UK went back to the drawing board (pun intended) and partnered with NHS Blood and Transplant to propose a new period emoji design: a red drop of blood, The Guardian reports. For NHS Blood and Transplant, the emoji represents blood donations, says The Guardian, but for Plan International UK, it represents menstruation. The new design was approved, and on Feb. 5, the Unicode Consortium announced the blood droplet would be among the 230 new emojis coming out in 2019.
A ‘Bloody’ Compromise
Don’t get me wrong; I’m crazy excited about a period emoji because it’s a huge step toward normalizing menstruation. But a compromise was clearly made, and that shows just how far we really need to go to end the stigma surrounding periods. “They think, ‘Oh bloody panties is [sic] an emoji is too much,’ but then they have a poop emoji,” Lamanda Ballard, founder and executive director for Flo Code, a non-profit based in Austin, Texas, that provides menstruation products to underserved communities, told The Guardian. “How is one thing worse than another? A period is completely natural.”
Lucy Russell, Head of Girls' Rights and Youth at Plan International UK, acknowledges that an emoji can only take us so far. “An emoji isn’t going to solve this, but it can help change the conversation. Ending the shame around periods begins with talking about it.”
Text Shame-Free Later This Year
Unicode says the new emojis should start showing up on phones around September or October 2019, though some platforms might release them earlier. Despite the compromise — and the fact that the drop of blood could mean more than just menstruation — I’m pretty stoked for a period emoji to hit my smartphone. I might not get my period anymore, but I have plenty of friends who do, and you better believe I’m using this emoji with them to openly talk about periods — completely shame free.
Planned Parenthood Launched a New Sexual Health Chatbot & Here’s Why That’s So Important
by Guest Blogger
Our guest blogger Mika Doyle introduces us to Roo - Planned Parenthood's new sexual health chatbot - and explains how this can change the sex ed game.
When I was a kid, I had so many questions about what I was hearing in music and movies. I can still remember all the different — and completely incorrect — interpretations I had for what Alanis Morissette meant when she asked if her ex’s new girlfriend would “go down on you” in a theater in her iconic song “You Outta Know.”
The internet was just getting up and running back then, so I couldn’t turn to Google to figure out what Alanis was talking about. And I sure as heck never asked my mom. I mean, when I asked her what “sixty-nining” was, she just looked at me side-eyed and asked, “What do you think it means?” Awkward…
But today’s teens have seriously got it so much harder. The internet may have opened a wealth of information to them that people like me might not have had as kids, but it also dumps a minefield of misinformation right at their feet. And how are they supposed to figure out what’s true and what’s not?
That’s why it’s so cool to see Planned Parenthood come out with a new sexual health chatbot named Roo. It puts expert sexual health resources at teens’ fingertips 24/7, and it’s completely anonymous. And, tbh, you don’t need to be a teenager to benefit from this cool new resource.
Sexual Health Chatbot Available 24/7
Planned Parenthood designed Roo for people ages 13 to 17, but the organization says anyone can use the new chatbot to ask questions about their sexual health. You can personalize your experience by selecting from a list of gender options, which include female, male, trans man, trans woman, non-binary, name your own, or you can skip that completely and just start asking questions or select questions from a list if you’re not sure what to ask.
The chatbot will continue to evolve and be able to answer more questions on additional topics as more people interact with it, according to Planned Parenthood. Until then, if Roo can’t answer your question, it’ll connect you with other resources, including Planned Parenthood’s live educators through the organization’s chat/text program.
“We know that many young people are nervous or embarrassed to ask questions about their sexual health,” Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a news release. “They often go online to get information and ask their questions anonymously. It’s important that our youth receive a reliable answer they can trust.”
The State of American Sex Education
Given that formal sex education in the United States is not standardized, it’s no wonder many people grow up to have a lot of questions about their sexual health. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 80 percent of teens did receive formal sexual health education between 2011 and 2013, but the focus was on abstinence and preventing STDs.
During that same time frame, only 55 percent of teen boys and 60 percent of teen girls received education on contraception, says the Guttmacher Institute. And the Guttmacher Institute says that, as of 2015, fewer than 6 percent of LGBT teens reported any positive representation of LGBT-related topics in their health classes. Because teens — especially LGBTQ teens — have so little access to quality sexual health resources, the Guttmacher Institute says they’re turning to the internet and other digital media for help.
Designed with Teens in Mind
The biggest hurdle in creating greater access to sexual health resources is eliminating the darn stigma surrounding sex. People feel embarrassed to ask questions about it. Planned Parenthood found that teens are still into texting and instant messaging, and a chatbot format gave them the same kind of format with the anonymity to ask personal, sexual health-related questions.
"Helping teens access trusted information — especially since so many young people aren't getting the sexual health education they need — makes this a rare sort of digital product," Gene Liebel, Work & Co co-founder, the company Planned Parenthood partnered with to create Roo, told Ad Age.
No matter how old you are, Roo is available to answer your questions 24/7 about your health, your body, relationships, and even services that Planned Parenthood offers. And can use it with the confidence that it’s back by actual health experts.
It’s December! If the weather where you are is frightful, it’s the perfect time for a sweet shot of feminism via the ears. Podcasts have taken over the internet, and so often, it seems to be four white bros sitting around collecting that sweet advertiser money while they explain the world to their listeners. Where is the smart, feminist analysis? Here’s my roundup of six sweet listens to keep on heavy rotation.
So, full disclosure, my primary form of self-care is cleaning the house with Popaganda on full blast. Tons of podcasts advertise themselves as smart, savvy takes on pop culture. Popaganda actually delivers.
Start here: This episode on wellness and the continual monitoring of the body is enough to set Goop on fire.
Fainting Couch Feminists
Designed for “witches, bitches and anyone who has ever been called hysterical”, this Vancouver original interviews writers, poets and artists about all the intersections of life and art. This podcast might expose you to poetry, in all the ways.
Start here: Talking poetry, periods and pussies - sounds good to me! Digging into "the right to be gross" is deeply satisfying, especially when it roots right down into taking pleasure in your body.
Technically, Another Round is on hiatus, but there are still 75 episodes of goodness for you to listen to, and they’re on a mission to snag Michelle Obama for an interview. Trust me, you want to be subscribed when that happens.
Start here: This chatty and fun episode features all the cool folks (Lin-Manuel Miranda! Padma Lakshmi!) while compiling a gripping portrait of what it means to be an immigrant in America.
otipêyimisiw-iswêwak kihci-kîsikohk (Métis in Space)
Two Métis women, who happen to be sci-fi nerds, break down the “whitest genre of film and television” ever (harsh but true). Packed with hilarious analysis and cool guest stars, decolonizing sci fi has never been more fun.
Start here: This episode veers from Australian sci-fi to yeast infection treatments, and features the writer and badass Gwen Benaway. 💥💥💥
Reproductive rights are, to me, the canary in the coal mine of feminism. Body autonomy is just table stakes for feminism, yet there seems to be a long line of white men working hard to take this right away. Choice/less exposes the human costs of anti-choice laws, in heartbreaking ways. Prepare to be angry.
Start here: This four part miniseries on the history of reproductive health and the historical injustice that came along with that starts with a harrowing look at early contraceptive pill trials in Puerto Rico.
One From The Vaults
Being trans is not a new phenomenon - in fact, there is a rich history of trans lives that proves that the binary has always been bonkers. Hosted by Morgan M Page, Canadian trans writer and artist, each episode delves into another aspect of trans history, making all these untold stories gripping yet accessible.
Start here: This is a great history about COG, North America's first trans organization, which operated in San Francisco in the 1960s, advocating for an end to police persecution as well as for the healthcare needs of trans folks.
How I Plan To Raise A Body Positive Black Daughter
by Guest Blogger
Our guest blogger Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez is expecting - and she's sharing her plan to ensure her daughter lives a body positive life.
The bond between mother and daughter is one I have seen exalted - and commercialized - for as long as I could remember. Your daughter is your “mini-me”, and the portrayal of that relationship has often felt fetishized. But when I found out I was expecting a girl, I was more fearful than excited.
The romanticized images are cute, but I’m afraid of the responsibility that accompanies mothering a daughter. I’m even more terrified that I am vastly under-qualified to teach her all she needs to know about body positivity when my own self-love journey is still in progress.
So much about life feels predetermined when you’re giving birth to a Black daughter. Much of what molds her socioeconomic experience will be present from birth.
So much about life feels predetermined when you’re giving birth to a Black daughter. Much of what molds her socioeconomic experience will be present from birth. And even if she doesn’t identify with her assigned gender, those qualities will impact how the world receives her. But I have decided to prioritize on one of few things I can control - fighting to raise a body-positive daughter.
I’ve heard too many stories from loved ones on ways their mothers “toxic interactions” led to a life of self-hate. It seems way too easy to pass insecurities and personal demons to my daughter. I’ve decided the best gift I can give are the tools of body positivity and unconditional love. And I’ve done some thinking about the ways to accomplish this.
I plan to prioritize reproductive empowerment long before menarche. As dramatic as it sounds, the messages of shame and disgust will be all around. The TV shows, jokes, and folklore of our society make women into punchlines. And being twice marginalized, waiting to see what she internalizes is a luxury we can’t afford.
The most essential ingredients in the cocktail of self-love will be information and transparency. I don’t think it’s necessary to hide the hurtful aspects of the world- there are too many of them. But by informing her of the intricate process that was required not only for her to exist but her body to function properly she will have a leg up. Once you see our existence as a miracle, it will be hard not to perceive everything that comes from it as amazing.
The hardest part of her journey will be what I have to do. Having these expectations of her means I must learn to model them in my words and action. I can’t teach self-love unless I learn to reach the milestone for myself.
I can’t teach self-love unless I learn to reach the milestone for myself.
Understanding that the stretch marks, sagging breast, and hyperpigmentation I experience are nothing compared to the process of bringing a new life into the world. But more importantly, embracing that I am not flawed because of these things. The perfect form is a myth, and I have every right to love myself with wear and tear. Self-love, when you have been “othered”, shouldn’t be revolutionary. It’s a birthright.
Reinforcing the beauty of diversity in oneself and others will be another vital piece of our journey towards body positivity. I don’t believe it’s possible to rip apart the “problem areas” in someone else without eventually allowing that same criticism to destroy your own self-image. The human body comes in a range of appearances and forms- most often, we choose to focus on its societal beauty. I will encourage appreciation and even vanity in her appearance, but instead of being anchored solely in her looks it should develop from the complexity of her entire self. She shouldn’t be afraid to celebrate herself like I am.
I don’t expect her journey to be quick or easy. There will be many experiences that hinder the lessons I’ve maps out for her. But that’s the beauty of it all- it’s her journey.
The stakes seem much higher this go’ round. Each kick and hiccup I feel for my unborn child serves as a reminder of what I am fighting for.
If we came into this world loving ourselves wholly, we would have nothing to aspire to. The path to body positivity and self-love is littered with challenges. But also, high levels of joy. The ability to unwaveringly love yourself despite what trends are happening in the beauty industry or the number on the scale is invaluable. It’s something I want not just for my daughter, but also for myself, and for everyone.
The ad industry is a mess of misogyny, and period ads are no exception. Our guest blogger Mika debunks a lot of menstrual mythology perpetuated by the advertising industry.
If you menstruate, you’ve probably gotten pretty good at the tampon sleeve-tuck or the pad pocket-slip. You know what I’m talking about; anyone with a uterus that bleeds has come up with some way to sneak those period products to the bathroom lest you have an awkward moment with non-menstruators.
I so feel for the people in this video by ATTN:, whose coworkers show off pictures of their latest “dump” but run screaming at the mention of periods.
(TW: gendered language)
OK, so obviously that’s exaggerated. Sort of. Period shame is most definitely real and has a serious impact on menstruators’ daily lives. A recent poll of 1,500 women and 500 men across the U.S. – which, sadly, stuck to the gender binary when polling people about period shaming – found that more than half (58 percent) of the women polled felt embarrassed just because they were on their periods. One in five of those women were shamed by comments made by a male friend, and 44 percent of men said they made a joke or comment about their partner’s mood when she was on her period. And at work? Ugh. More than half of the men polled (51 percent) think it’s inappropriate for women to talk about their periods. Seriously?
Oh, and that sleeve-tuck and pocket-slip? Most of the women surveyed (73 percent) do that, and 65 percent have worn specific clothes to hide potential leaks. Seven in 10 have had friends walk behind them to check to see if their pad was showing, while 29 percent cancelled plans altogether if those plans would’ve exposed the fact that they were on their periods.
So what gives? Why are we so ashamed of our periods?
The Power of Period Ads
Media representation is powerful; it can spread stigma and shame or inform and empower. Unfortunately, since the first period product advertisements appeared in the 1920s, they did the former by representing menstruation as a “problem” that required discretion and secrecy. And it’s no wonder; in the late 20th century, ad agencies were run by men who 1) avoided taking menstrual product accounts like the plague and 2) did not understand menstruation.
Thus began decades of period product ads that treated menstruation as a taboo topic. In the early days, ads didn’t even include product descriptions, and some period product brands came in plain brown paper boxes to hide what was inside. When brands did start adding descriptions, popular descriptors included “discreet” and “virtually undetectable,” as if acknowledging your period in public was a horrifying social faux pas. In fact, it wasn’t even until 1985 (that’s right, 1985) that the word “period” was spoken in a TV commercial:
The slut-shaming began in the 1930s, with tampon companies worrying that unmarried people, who were supposedly virgins, wouldn’t want to use tampons because they penetrate the vagina. This led to ads that reassured consumers that they could not lose their virginity from using tampons. Tampax actually published an ad in 1990 (that’s right, 1990) that reads, “Will I still be a virgin?” You might laugh at that, but if you think about it, that means less than 30 years ago, there was still a stigma surrounding tampon use. People were still worried using tampons would affect them on a societal level.
Once ads began to actually show what period products are intended to do, we were introduced to the infamous blue liquid as a placeholder for menstrual fluid. The excuse was to save viewers from the unsavory appearance of bodily fluids even though viewers don’t find blood unsavory in movies or TV shows. Apparently, blood is only disgusting when it comes out of a vagina. That, my friends, is period shaming.
A Long, Bloody Way to Go
Around 2010, brands started to realize it was time for a change. Kotex launched several ads that poked fun at period ads, including this one that points out some of more obvious (and ridiculous) tampon ad tropes:
Or this one, where Bodyform’s CEO actually drinks the blue liquid and responds to a Facebook message from a man named Richard, who rails on about all of the lies he’s been told about that magical “time of the month”:
Note the heavy use of gendered language in these ads. Period products then – and for most mainstream brands today – were intended for cisgender women. More period shaming.
Then, finally, in 2017, we see blood and red liquid in a period ad with Bodyform’s “Blood is Normal” ad:.
Not only does the ad depict menstrual blood, but it also shows a man buying pads, a woman asking for a pad, and a couple having sex, with one of them presumably menstruating. All of these are scenarios that address areas of period shaming.
It’s taken until 2017 to see an ad like this, and it’s just a single ad from a single brand. Given the history of period product advertising, it’s no wonder people who menstruate feel embarrassed about getting their periods. For decades, advertisers have been driving home the message that periods are more disgusting than the gore you see in horror movies.
We need to see more brands step up and stop the period shaming. That means being inclusive of all menstruators. While it’s encouraging to see brands start to toss the white pants and drink the blue liquid, it’s time they really subvert societal expectations so they end period-shaming once and for all.
As one of the biggest sporting events in the world comes to a close in Korea, we, the period-obsessed folk at Lunapads, have one question.
What’s it like to be an athlete with your period?
Let’s throw back to 2016, when Fu Yuanhui charmed the world, first with her goofy delight at being a teenage champion, and next with her frank confession - she hadn’t done well because she got her period.
(TBH she swam faster than half the planet and won the hearts of everyone, so we could possibly just redefine "doing well".)
However, the menstrual taboo is still alive and well in the athletic space. From world-record-breaking athletes to those of us just trying to get our sweat on at the gym, there has long been warnings about exercising whilst menstruating. For the record, they’re all nonsense.
Exercise is great for alleviating cramps, releasing feel-good hormones to boost your mood and is important to contributing to an overall sense of well-being. Nagasu has said that she relies on workouts to deal with cramps, which is a benefit of triple Axels commentators never seem to touch on.
Of course, having your period is never easy. Many athletes sail through menstruation no problem, but others are sensitive to hormonal fluctuations and wind up not performing as well as they might have hoped. Dr Andrew Boesch, a researcher at the University of Cape Town, notes that "performance just drops off at certain parts of the cycle in some female athletes", noting that each period is different. Boesch recommends carefully tracking performance around the menstrual cycle, so that athletes can prepare to manage menstruation.
Not going for gold yourself? Exercise if you want, or just hang out with a heating pad and some ESPN, if that’s the kind of sports you feel up for. Your period, your way.