At the border right now, there’s no solace for young teens who might know little about what’s happening to their bodies—yet have to summon the courage to tell a male guard and ask for pads, only to be denied or given too few to matter. Or have to manage their periods in over-crowded rooms where privacy is scant. And aren’t even able to shower or wash hands or scrub clean stained underwear.
What do recent victories for menstrual equity worldwide suggest for the future of the movement?
In today’s treacherous landscape for reproductive health, one policy priority has skirted partisan rancor: periods.
Ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment goes beyond a matter of principle. It would also offer a host of legal remedies to gender-based disparities, including discrimination in the workplace and the injustices that face survivors in our rape culture—and it would be a major boon to the emerging movement for menstrual equity.
With every passing day—with each sordid detail that comes to light about Brett Kavanaugh’s school years, with every aggressive and hypocritical word that passes across the lips of Senator Mitch “plow through these hearings” McConnell, with every victim-blaming tweet from the pussy-grabbing POTUS himself—my fury swells.
“The time has come to move periods out from the shadows, and squarely in the center of our society.”
Given that this particular bodily function has been an essential slice of the human condition forever—and stigmatized, sidelined or, at best, ignored for just about as long—it is no small thrill that menstruation has become a modern cause célèbre. Now the time is ripe to harness all that momentum and go full-blown political: periods as a public policy agenda.
As Hollywood opens the red carpet to social change—and celebrities and others open their wallets to the movement—here’s another hashtag to add to the mix: #MenstruationMatters.
New York has the chance to improve the lives of its most vulnerable residents and advance a vital message: that menstruation falls squarely at the intersection of health, economic and justice policy.
Menstrual equity has rapidly morphed into a winning mainstream policy agenda–one of the very few in American politics that can claim honest-to-goodness bipartisan traction.