I love Quentin Tarantino movies. The humour, the gore, all that blood. It’s gross, sure, but the excitement of those scenes make the grossness of it okay. So okay, in fact, that millions of people make the trip to the cinema to sit in a dark room, stuff their faces with popcorn and get that sweet, sweet adrenalin fix from heads being smashed in, limbs being cut off and so. much. blood.
Maybe it makes you feel tough. Maybe it gives you some release from your otherwise vanilla lifestyle. Whatever it is, people seem to love it.
But, what about period blood?
If Django Unchained included a female character who was visibly on her period, would it make you like the movie any less? After all, period blood is really just blood, right? It’s red and warm and excretes from a hole in the body, kind of like a gunshot wound. Yet, for some reason, the normalcy of period blood — being more so than the normalcy of gruesome murder — is not enough to make it acceptable.
In my daily trawl through social media over the past couple of days, I have come across a number of posts regarding the recent Asaleo Care for Libra ad for a new design of menstrual pads they have just brought out. It was a creative, tasteful and bloody spot on ad, if you ask me.
However, many people with their own strong opinions and the crippling desire to make sure the world hears them (yes, I also fall into this category) have taken to social media to condemn the company for showing period blood in the advertisement. A faint streak of blood running down a leg in the shower and a drop leaked onto a pad was all that was shown in the video, yet it was enough to cause an uproar. Tarantino would find the amount laughable, really.
Some are claiming that the ad forces mothers to discuss menstrual periods with their daughters before they’re ready, that it is disgusting and distasteful, that just because girls get periods doesn’t mean we need to see them, and that bodily secretions shouldn’t be shown on television… guess the entire horror, action and pornographic movie industries are pretty much shot to hell, then.
But look, these are all valid(ish) points to make, especially if you grew up in the year 1876. However, after what I’m sure was very careful and somewhat dubious consideration, the regulatory body that handles complaints about public advertisements has declared that the ad does not breach the industry’s code of ethics.
So, what’s the big deal?
To me, the big deal is that, in an effort to destigmatise periods, the shackles of the stigma have only seemed to tighten, with Libra copping the bloody wrath of said stigma’s mighty gatekeepers.
What I struggle to understand is the fact that so many people will happily sit through violent movies and watch reality medical shows and be unable to peel their eyes off gory murder and confronting procedures, yet a couple of seconds of the tinniest drop of menstrual blood is enough to make people stand up and walk out — figuratively speaking, of course. It’s bloody bullshit.
With 49.6 percent of the world’s population being female, why is talking about something that half the population experiences so damn offensive?
For the men who sit through violent movies, sporting a partial from the pure adrenalin of it but who shrivel up at the sight of blood that just so happens to have come from a woman’s vagina, have you ever had a girlfriend in your life? Are you the type to release your self-proclaimed heavenly man juices on her face whenever you deem appropriate but then put up yellow crime scene tape for when Aunt Flow is in town? I guess holding your child when it’s fresh out of the womb is out of the question too. All that blood, yuck!
And then for the women who might feel personally victimised or attacked by seeing a bit of blood on a pad even though it’s something most of you experience yourself once a month… do you really not feel empowered by the fact that something you have experienced in silence since your early teenage years is finally being talked about? More and more companies are standing up for what it means to be a woman, periods and all.
I remember being about 14 and fairly new to periods, so I hadn’t quite mastered the art of inserting a tampon successfully. I’ll tell you now, it wasn’t from a lack of trying! So, that time of month would come around and I would be left in a crippling state of panic thinking of what to tell my male PE teacher when the rest of the kids were jumping in the pool. I used to get Mum to write me a note saying I had a sore throat to avoid speaking that word out loud: period.
As a 26-year-old in 2019, there’s not much I wouldn’t give to be able to go back and scream, “I have my period!” from the roof of the sports building. However, if I was a 14-year-old girl in 2019, I’m not sure I would feel the same.
The fact that one advertisement that addresses the normalcy of the menstrual cycle — the part of our reproductive system that allows us to create life — has received such vocal condemnation is, well, scary. If I was a teenager today reading the thousands of comments about how disgusting period blood is and that it needs to remain another unspoken fact of life, I wouldn’t be screaming anything from the rooftop.
Instead, I would sit by the pool, watching my peers enjoy their swimming class with the crumpled up note from my mother about my sore throat in my hand. I would think of the list of things society has written for me that deem certain aspects of being a woman as disgusting and distasteful, and I would think of how when I grow up and have a daughter of my own, I will make bloody sure that she will feel comfortable screaming her period from the rooftop.
Because periods are normal. Showing them should be too.