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Ode to the Tampon (In the Style of Sharon Olds)


by Samuel Derrick Rosen


Today I tweeted
a picture of
myself holding a
tampon.  Yes,
you read that correctly.  It's strange
that we still talk about
periods in hushed tones
isn't it?  Half
the population goes through
it every month but it's not
something we talk about openly.

You know when you feel
like death once a month, and
just want to
stay at home curled up on the
sofa with a hot
water bottle, watching
Orange Is
The New Black whilst
stuffing your face with
unhealthy food and
generally be left alone to
be all hormonal and
grumpy?

But
admitting that you feel
crap and could do
with not working
somehow feels
like some kind of failure.  It's as
though admitting to
being a woman
and not being at your
best that day is
almost failing in
life and at work.

And there's always that
niggling thought that
if you do talk about
it
then your boss will think you're a
weirdo.

So instead you have to
get up, plaster
that smile on your face, pop a
couple ibuprofen, walk into that
office, pretend you're fine, armed
with enough tampons and pads to
last the day (hidden in a
“discreet”
pouch of some sort).

It affects, has affected
or will affect
around 32 million people, (the number of
women in the UK
according to the
2011 census) but
it's still not
an acceptable conversation opener.

And don't get me started on the
cost.  Essentially I
pay tax for the privilege of
my body preparing
for children.  I reckon
I've paid out £2000
so far for that
privilege
(my shoe collection would
love that extra cash).  If

there was any possible way
Jaffa Cakes could be
substituted for
tampons, that would be

amazing -- because
you don't pay tax
on Jaffa Cakes.  But
despite all of that I
did have to
sit and have a think a
bout whether it was a
good idea for
me to take a
selfie with a
tampon and post it on
Twitter.  But We have a
wealth of
options available to us
in terms of
sanitary products and
having options means
there's less chance
of us leaking
when we're going
through a
particularly heavy flow or

being caught short when your
period app gets it wrong, and
you come on a couple
days before it says you're
supposed to.

But in places like Uganda,
where tampons and pads are
not only scarce but
expensive — girls often take 3 or
4 days off school a
month because
putting rags down there
isn't always effective and
causes infections, leakages, or

simply fall out. Which if you're a
teenager, is
utterly mortifying. The
days off school mean
they fall behind, and
generations of girls
with fewer qualifications and
limited access to jobs.

So let us teach
young girls about
menstrual hygiene, introduce them to
locally-made reusa
ble pads.  So fewer
embarrassing leakages, and
more confident and
educated girls becoming
women who will
make their mark in the world.

So I just had to
get over my
initial inhibition
about being pictured with a
tampon, and instead

I hold it with pride.
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