diva cup

My Reality: It Took Me 7 Years to Figure Out How to Use a Reusable Menstrual Cup, and I’m Never Going Back

Hand holding blue Meluna cupby Alicia Costa

Like many women, part of learning to love and accept my body also included dealing with the shame I had around menstruation. I started menstruating when I was 10 years old and it was a confusing and terrifying experience. My mom (bless you, mom) was not great with the explaining of the bodily functions. So I was handed a jumbo super plus tampon with a cardboard applicator and sent into the bathroom. I was so baffled about what this thing was and where it was supposed to go.

Needless to say there were tears and I used pads the size of a toddler diaper for the next several years. My mom (again bless you, mom, you tried) would place my pad in a paper bag in an attempt to conceal it. Added to my mortification was the lack of sanitary napkin disposals in the stalls at my elementary school which lead me to live in constant terror that just as I was burying my pad in the communal trash the door would be flung open and I would be met with horror and ridicule from my non-menstruating classmates. Horrifying. There is not enough therapy in the world to get rid of that memory.

Animated gif of a girl talking about tampons

Anyway, clearly I survived into adulthood somehow and have lived to tell all the Internet my most mortifying moments. You’re welcome.

Connecting with my body has been a long road for me. Navigating sex and sexuality as a big woman has been a journey that I am still on. I believe the negative experiences I had when I first started menstruating only added to the dissociation I felt with my body. I was ashamed and scared. Not a single adult took the time to explain to me that what was happening to my body was normal and natural and that all women go through it.

So I started a quest in my early 20s to better connect with my body and my sacred moon blood. And that was when I discovered this amazing invention of a reusable menstrual cup. It’s a small internally worn cup made of medical grade silicone that collects menstrual blood and is reusable over and over. It can be worn for 10-12 hours without the fear of getting toxic shock syndrome and does not absorb those good juices in your lady bits. Also, they cost between $20-$40 and last for years! Years! Think of all the savings!

The only cup available in Canada at the retail level at the time (and I think currently) is the DivaCup. So I marched to the nearest London Drugs and scooped one up in the size 1 (for women under 30 who have not given birth). I ran home with high hopes that yes- I am a progressive sexual woman! I am getting in touch with my moons! I am going to save BOATLOADS of cash!

And once again I found myself in a bathroom looking at a baffling foreign object near tears. And I just could never get the DivaCup to work for me. Over the years I’d dig it out of the drawer. Give it another try. And it always ended up the same way: with my sweaty, swearing, and throwing the cup against the wall and reaching for my multipack of Tampax Pearls. Read more

Posted on by Alicia Costa in My Reality 2 Comments

Tampons Are a Feminist Issue, Though

linerby Jessica Critcher

I fell for the shocking click-bait and read “Are Tampons Anti-Feminist?” on The Daily Beast the other day. I get it, hyped-up titles means more web-traffic. But from what I read, their answer to the question is “Maybe,” despite the inflammatory question. I was equally underwhelmed by Jezebel’s response, “Not Everything Is a Feminist Issue, For Crissakes.”

Because people who menstruate* are affected by overlapping feminist issues, tampons should be a feminist issue (or at least part of a larger feminist conversation) and not because putting cotton inside ourselves is inherently “anti-feminist.” For the record, I do think tampons are horrible for several reasons, and those reasons stem from my feminist values.

The Environment

Tampon applicators, plastic or cardboard, are made from raw materials that are then processed into the applicators we use and throw away. Even tampons without applicators are made from raw materials that are then flushed or trashed. And this is done by millions of people, every day. You don’t have to be a crunchy granola hippie to be grossed out by the thought of this, or to see how this is not great for the Earth.

Health Concerns

Most tampons are made with a mixture of cotton and rayon, which are bleached with chemicals. Several also come with perfumes and dyes. The FDA says they’re safe, and good on them for checking. But there is something unnerving to me about factory processed materials cozied up in such a sensitive place. Especially because, in case you haven’t heard, you might find mold. If that doesn’t have you shuddering, tampons also have the potential to cause Toxic Shock Syndrome, which can be fatal. I’m not a doctor, but this is messed up.

Capitalism!

For one thing, there’s the cost. Purchasing tampons (or pads) every month is something I’ve come to call a “Uterus Tax.” It’s money you have to spend if you happen to shed your uterine lining every month. You just have to suck it up and pay for it with your hard earned money. And if you’re not a white, cisgender, heterosexual man, statistically, you have less money to fling around on that kind of thing. Read more

Posted on by Jessica Critcher in Feminism 6 Comments

My Reality: I Pitched My Marketing Class on the Diva Cup

divacupThis is the first post in a new series we’re starting at Gender Focus. The “My Reality” series is the brainchild of regular contributor Alicia Costa and will feature a variety of contributors writing about their diverse experiences. Our goal is to let people share their stories: both those that are common but not necessarily widely discussed, and those that are highly unique.

If you would like to submit a one-time post to the “My Reality “ series (or contribute more regularly to Gender Focus) check out the site submission guidelines.

I Pitched My Marketing Class on the Diva Cup

by Jarrah Hodge

I was at least a little out-of-place in my Writing Creative Copy class last term. The course, part of a local college Marketing program, was taught by a kind but easily-distractable woman in her fifties with extensive experience in the ad industry.

Now the industry isn’t exactly like Mad Men anymore, but there’s still a lot of pretty bad advertising produced, including all those racist political ads that came out in the States last year, and just reams of sexist ads promoting anything from fast food to high fashion.

So how do you switch hats to go from being a feminist cultural critic, who spends a lot of her spare time analyzing and writing about sexist advertising, to being a trainee ad copywriter who is trying to learn some new skills and pass a class?

Turns out it was possible to do and have fun. It helped that the philosophy of the instructor and the course was to emphasize creativity. If your jokes and images and concepts came straight out ads you’d already seen, you had a problem. You couldn’t just stick in a picture of a sexy, half-naked woman and expect to get a good grade.

But I still had a bit of a block; a discomfort with writing even fake ads for products I didn’t think people should buy.

So when it came time to develop a radio ad campaign for our mid-term assignment, I sat down and I went through all the products I use on a regular basis. I wanted to find something I could fake sell without feeling like it compromised my ethics.

I picked the Diva Cup.

Now I’ve used the Diva Cup (a small, internally-worn menstrual cup made of silicone) with Lunapads’ washable cloth menstrual pads for backup for about five years. To me it’s no big deal. I learned about the cup from a friend in university and it just made sense. Why was I using these bleached, scented, drying menstrual products instead of this cheaper (up to $150 cheaper per year) and more eco-friendly option. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, My Reality 9 Comments

FFFF: Hymn to the Diva Cup

This is hysterical. I’m taking an advertising copy class right now and I chose to do my radio ad project on the Diva Cup. Maybe I shouldn’t have been but I was really surprised how grossed out my classmates were at the concept of a reusable menstrual cup. Since I presented,  a couple girls in the class came up to me and asked more questions about the product. I guess it got through a bit that using and washing a cup is cheaper, often more convenient, more environmentally friendly, and no more fundamentally icky than using disposable tampons or pads.

So without further ado, enjoy this tribute to the Diva Cup by Dan Parker (lyrics, vocals) and Matthew Wiviott (guitar), presented by the Reproductive Justice League and the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy on July 17th 2012.

Now all we need is an ode to LunaPads!

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF 1 Comment