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New legislation combats the perennial issue of period poverty

By Nicole Mui Dec. 8, 2021


California will be joining seven other states to provide menstrual hygiene products free of charge in public school bathrooms as Assemblymember Cristina Garcia’s Menstrual Equity for All Act goes into effect starting the 2022-2023 school year. Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Oct. 8, the bill marks a step in the fight to eradicate period poverty—defined by Medical News Today as the lack of access to period products and menstrual hygiene Beomhee Kim Art

education that affects 500 million people worldwide—and sparks conversations about menstruation.


“Having period products freely available on campus reminds students that menstruation is a normal occurrence and helps students feel less shame if they forget to bring their own products,” Veronica Burton, Math Department said.


Across the globe, menstruation holds different levels of respect and importance depending on the region. In Fiji, girls are gifted a mat on their first period and taught about the importance of the menstrual cycle and their families celebrate with a feast. In the Cherokee Nation, periods are viewed as sacred and powerful. However, in the U.S. and many developing countries, discussions of periods are rare and over 5000 euphemisms including “that time of the month,” “Aunt Flo” and “shark week” are often used in place of the terms “menstruation” and “period.” Despite their light-hearted tone, these euphemisms show that stigmas and false perceptions surrounding menstruation are deeply ingrained social norms.


Despite their light-hearted tone, these euphemisms show that stigmas and false perceptions surrounding menstruation are deeply ingrained social norms.

“Many people avoid discussing menstruation, considering it to be unclean and embarrassing. To normalize periods, educational systems should introduce all students to the subject, regardless of whether or not they menstruate,” Junior Mads Carroll said.


For decades, the menstrual taboo has been an underlying force in the media, which often avoids imagery associated with menstruation. Throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries, countless sanitary product advertisements were discrete, excluding visual functions of sanitary products and menstruation-related vocabulary—the word “period” was not openly stated on television until 1985, in a Tampax commercial. Similar practices continued in the 21st century, where many brands utilize a blue fluid instead of a red one to display the absorbency of their products in their advertisements—a practice predicated on the idea that menstruation is dirty and unnatural.


[The] word “period” was not openly stated on television until 1985, in a Tampax commercial ... predicated on the idea that menstruation is dirty and unnatural.

Moreover, the period taboo coexists with a lack of access to period products, especially for students. A study published by non-profit PERIOD found that 23% of teenage students in the U.S. struggle to afford period products, and according to the University of Michigan School of Public Health, one in five students miss school due to inadequate access to menstrual hygiene products. Aside from financial concerns, genderqueer students face difficulties accessing period products due to them being located only in girls' restrooms, and many students are forced to leave school, stay home or even drop out. To remediate these issues, Garcia’s legislation strives to provide products in a way that acknowledges the diverse array of menstruators and promotes health amongst all students.


“As period products are basic necessities, they should always be accessible. Garcia’s bill is an effective way to respond to the lack of available products by conveniently placing them in school bathrooms,” Freshman Joshua Yan said.


The pervasive menstrual stigma in education and media today has spurred a public health crisis. Despite its prevalence, new governmental policies are beginning to advocate for more resources that support those who menstruate.


 

About the Contributors

Nicole Mui

Staff Writer


Nicole Mui is a sophomore at Leland High School and writer for The Charger Account. During their free time, she enjoys reading, painting, and debating.









Beomhee Kim

Art Director


Beomhee Kim is a senior at Leland High School and the Art Director for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys drawing, listening to music, and spending time with her friends.

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