This year has seen many myths and taboos regarding menstruation being dispelled. Hot topics of debate included widening access to menstrual-health information and resources, which also sparked discussion on topics such as who has periods, how to break taboos around period sex, and the public-health issue of schoolchildren needing access to menstrual hygiene products.
The company Always sparked debate, and was met with some bigoted responses, when it listened to the transgender, non-binary and intersex community, and allies too, and removed the Venus symbol from its sanitary-pad packaging, as not only cisgendered womxn menstruate. It was an acknowledgment that there are transgender and gender-diverse people who also have periods, and a small win in the social justice movement.
This year #Trending’s sex columnist, Jade Zwane, unpacked period sex to help to normalise a bodily function that our patriarchal society fears and shames. “Sex”, of course, was the focus to capture the attention of cisgendered heterosexual men so that they would take a seat and learn a thing or two.
The menstrual movement has been debunking ignorance around what goes on during one’s period in order to tackle men’s discomfort with bloody sex and the general lack of knowledge about menstruation. But there is still a need to explore and broaden sex education across the gender spectrum for everyone, not just those who have a monthly period.
Finally, social justice organisations and activists have been tackling the global issue of access to menstrual hygiene resources for school children. Having no access to resources such as clean and safe toilets, running water and pads means children cannot go to school, which makes this a human rights issue that disrupts children’s right to education.
Strides have been made in the movement but there is still a long way to go to ensure millions of people who menstruate are acknowledged and supported.