Oh, the Outrage!

// 29 July 2010

Tags: , ,

Certain newspapers are renowned for creating outrage and horror out of the smallest things, but this example had me howling with laughter. That might be related to the painkillers I’m currently on for an excessively painful period, but that just makes it all the more relevant.

It appears that somebody on the set of Emmerdale thought it would be funny to add ‘jam rags’ and ‘pile cream’ to a blackboard shopping list in Marlon Dingle’s kitchen. I agree, I think that is quite funny.

I had actually never heard the term ‘jam rags’ for sanitary towels before, so I’ve learned something new. And it highlights the fact that just as characters in soaps are rarely seen going to the toilet, they are also rarely seen as having periods. Funnily enough they never watch other soaps, either.

The Fail tells us:

Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch, said: ‘Clearly whoever wrote that knew exactly what they were doing, and they certainly didn’t need to.

‘It’s not a particularly helpful phrase to refer to sanitary towels as “jam rags” , and it is unnecessary.

[…]

Sharon Kennedy, 26, from Kingstanding, Birmingham, said: ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes when it appeared on screen – it’s not the kind of language you expect to appear in one of our oldest soaps.

‘I had to cover my young son’s eyes because I didn’t want to have to explain that kind of crass language to him at such a young age.

[…]

Mother-of-two Jean Walker, 38, from Lichfield, Staffs, added: ‘I was stunned when my son, who is only seven, turned around and asked me what a jam rag was.

‘It’s not the kind of thing you want your kids seeing, so it was disappointing to see it on a programme like Emmerdale just after dinner.

‘You hear phrases like that used in the street or in the pub sometimes, but to use it in front of millions as part of a TV soap is a pretty silly thing to do.’

These people don’t appear outraged, or scared for the moral health of their child, regarding the current storyline of a murdered man’s body being found in the woods, or an older woman’s admission of graverobbing, or the sad death of the chronic alcoholic pictured in that screenshot that very night (yes, I watch Emmerdale!). But a mention of sanitary towels in slang terms – UNACCEPTABLE!

Oh my. Somebody think of the children!

I use medical terms and slang terms to refer to periods. I try and avoid overtly negative ones like ‘the curse’, despite my endometriosis and PCOS making me feel quite cursed on days like today. When I lived in France, periods were often referred to as ‘les Anglaises’ – nobody quite knew why, but one theory was the shade of red that white Brits turn when they holiday in sunny France, and another was to do with the red coats that the guards of Buckingham Palace wear.

So I’m on the blob, I’ve got the painters in, Liverpool / Arsenal / Man U are playing at home, I’m menstruating, I have my period. There’s nothing offensive about that, it’s a fact of life, and talking about it shouldn’t horrify anyone.

Because I’ve always had problems with my periods, it is something I have had to talk about regularly. I also had to come to terms with the fact that periods weren’t shameful. Buying sanitary towels as a teenager might have felt mortifying, but now I barely notice doing it. There really is nothing to be ashamed of.

The Onion has a nice collection of euphemisms for menstruation, my favourite probably being It’s ‘that time of the month’ where ‘I’m not at my best’ because ‘my vagina is bleeding’. The Museum of Menstruation has the most comprehensive collection of words used to describe menstruating I have ever, ever seen. That site is actually endlessly fascinating, with extensive information on anything and everything to do with periods.

So, what are your favourite period euphemisms? Do you prefer to use less euphemistic language? Would you be horrified to see ‘jam rags’ on a shopping list? Or is any mention at all of our ‘monthlies’ offensive?

ETA: Some great new euphemisms are already coming in! I will update the post with them all in a day or two.

One day on, from the excellent comment thread, we have the following menstruation terminology!

What we call periods

Being on t’blob

Menstruating

The Communists are in the funhouse

I’ve got the bleed

I’m bleeding

Riding the silicone pony

Bleeding profusely from my vagina

Aunt Irma is visiting

Fallen to the Communists

Evacuation which commences on D-Day

Star week

Being on

Coming on

The Grim

The Bloodening

Jane Austen

Touched by the goddess

Chocolate time

Auntie Flo is visiting

My visitor’s here

Red River

Shark Week

I’m jammy

It’s jam week

The anarchist flag is flying

Hunting for the red october

I’m on my period

Surfing the crimson wave

Being smudgy

Les Anglais ont débarqué

Special Lady Time

Uncle Tom’s (T.O.M.) staying

Erdbeere Tagen (German: strawberry days)

Waving the red flag

What we call period pain

Bum drop-off

What we call sanitary towels / pads

Ladies things

Rags

Drip trays

Crime scene tape

STs

Sanny pads

What we call tampons

Ammunition

Bullets

Cunt stuffers

Rocket launchers (the applicators)

Comments From You

FeminaErecta // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:02 pm

Personal favourite has to me ‘on t’blob’. Though I do like shocking people by saying ‘I’m menstruating at the moment’ randomly in converstaion.

My mum used to call jam-rags ‘ladies things’ and so thats sort of stuck.

Anna // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:06 pm

‘The Communists are in the funhouse’ – it’s a Danish phrase, I think, and it’s awesome.

saranga // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:08 pm

I refer to my sanitary towels as rags and say that i’ve got the bleed or i’m bleeding. it amuses me!

Debi Linton // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:13 pm

I’m ashamed to admit that pedantry has the better of me, and I feel the need to point out that if your vagina is bleeding (rather than your uterus bleeding, the product of which is expelled out of your vagina) you should probably seek medical attention.

Me, I’m going to be using ‘riding the silicone pony’* next time I need to.

*I don’t use cotton-based products.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:14 pm

Debi, very true. I frequently say ‘I am bleeding profusely from my vagina’, by which I mean via my vagina. From my vagina itself would be more of a medically problematic situation.

Sheila // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:21 pm

I call those thin liner things drip trays. My mother told me that her mother had four sisters, and they all menstruated simultaneously along with their own mother, as women often do synchronise their periods when living together. They did actually use rags in those days, the size of dusters and made of calico or muslim or whatever cheap material could be used to make square scraps folded over for absorbency. When all six of them were having their periods, the washing line in the back yard would be crammed with “rags” all slightly stained in the middle because they didn’t have washing machines in those days and the water wasn’t hot enough. Much as we complain about periods now, I have to say I’m very relieved not to have to hang up my rags on the washing line for inspection by the neighbours – though I guess it was more ecologically friendly.

Dominic Ellison // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:27 pm

Amusing musings as ever Philippa.

I’ll correct you on just one point;

I clearly remember Jack and Vera Duckworth watching Home and Away during one episode of Corrie

Ria // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:39 pm

Ah, the Fail.. where would we be without its manufactured outrage, air-whipped into a fine froth? And we feminists are supposed to be the humourless ones ;)

*rolls eyes* Me, I favour “Aunt Irma is visiting” or something to the effect of having “fallen to the Communists”.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:40 pm

Dominic,

Blimey, sometimes the very laws of nature are broken!

sianushka // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:41 pm

brilliant post! i don’t really call it anything though.

we had a BFN meeting about periods at the start of july and it was amazing! everyone was talking and laughing and sharing stories and tips about mooncups and period pain, and discussing the cons of the pill.

ive written a lot about why period advertising is evil, esp the mother nature tampax pearl one on my own blog http://www.sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.com

earwicga // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:52 pm

Evacuation which commences on D-Day :)

It makes me laugh when people are concerned about their children hearing about menstruation and sanitary supplies. What do they do, hide them from the kids in their own houses?

Philippa Willitts // Posted 29 July 2010 at 3:54 pm

A few years ago I attended a slimming club (pah! never again!) where it was referred to as ‘star week’. I always thought Moon Week would have been more appropriate. The few men in the group were quite jealous that they could never have a Star Week to excuse the gain of a few pounds.

I’m loving the suggestions coming through!

Stephanie // Posted 29 July 2010 at 4:03 pm

My mother taught me that expression about “les Anglais” (and it is “Anglais”, not “Anglaises”: it’s men not women that are referred to) but I never use it. I’m pretty sure it’s about the soldiers’ red jackets, as I think the expression has been around for a long time. Also perhaps a reference to the traditional antagonism between English and French: the idea is that although it’s euphemistic, it’s clear that it is something annoying or unpleasant. I don’t know of any young women that say that though.

I normally talk about having my period, I’ve heard friends talk about “being on” (as in: “you’re not supposed to wax when you’re on”). But I think I want to start saying that I’m bleeding. It just seems more matter of fact.

I use a mooncup now, but I used homemade cotton pads for a few years, and it was a dilemma whether to hang them to dry in my room or with the rest of my stuff in full view of my male flatmates… (even with modern machines the stains don’t always go) Depends on the flatmates. I would agree about not wanting neighbours to see them though!

Philippa Willitts // Posted 29 July 2010 at 4:06 pm

Stephanie – interesting, it was definitely used in the feminine – Anglaises – amongst my friends, it was the most common phrase in my peer group. Just goes to show, different periods of time and probably regional variations too.

When I was at school it was always ‘being on’ or ‘coming on’ too. I use washable cotton pads, love them! But yeah, if I had an outdoor washing line I’m not sure I’d want to hang them on it!

Jeff // Posted 29 July 2010 at 4:37 pm

“They did actually use rags in those days, the size of dusters and made of calico or muslim or whatever cheap material could be used to make square scraps folded over for absorbency.”

I think that’s “Muslin”, Muslims tend not to be very absorbent in general :P

I never could comprehend the taboo regarding periods, and for some reason my girlfriend never bothers using them, she just says she’s on her period.

Lindsey // Posted 29 July 2010 at 4:51 pm

In the house I call it The Grim in a way that implies there is a friendly (if messy) monster taking up residence inside me. In actual discussions it’s just periods, but in jokes all kinds of things are used, my favourite of which was when my uni housemate scrawled THE BLOODENING!! across his calendar.

Maeve // Posted 29 July 2010 at 5:03 pm

I once worked in a pub (in Liverpool) years ago when I was a student. One night this guy asked for a drink, but the landlord had just called time. I said “the towels are on”. He said “I’m not enquiring about the state of your health.” I had to laugh.

I think ”jam rags” is a bit disgusting, because I like jam and…! But I don’t think it’s’anything to get outraged about. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it always seems that when something truly horrendous is broadcast there are no complaints, only outrage about what I’d regard as nothing…to get your tampon string in a twist about!

Re. pile cream: I read in a novel that Hollywood stars use it as under-eye cream because it makes the skin taut. Now there’s something to make your eyes water, viewers.

DocDelete // Posted 29 July 2010 at 5:12 pm

Going back to the complaints from those people: they show a horrendous lack of guile and imagination. If my son turned round and asked what a jam rag was, I’d simply say it’s kitchen cloth specifically for picking up spilled jam. He’s 6 by the way, and I’d feel justified in putting off the ‘real conversation’ for a couple of more years at least. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best ;)

Agnes // Posted 29 July 2010 at 5:24 pm

The best one I’ve EVER heard (but always forget to use) is calling it a ‘Jane Austen’. ie. a period drama.

Anna // Posted 29 July 2010 at 5:26 pm

Descriptions for periods I’ve heard:

Touched by the goddess

Chocolate time

Auntie Flo(w) is visiting this week

My visitor’s here

Red river

Tampons – ”ammunition’ or ”bullets”

Pads – ”crime scene tape”

Great post, Philippa! Really enjoyed it, plus most of the comments.

Sheila // Posted 29 July 2010 at 6:07 pm

I tried to show my 13 year old daughter how to use an applicator tampon the other day. The whole thing is very difficult. I don’t want to invade her privacy or use words she’d feel uncomfortable with. But she really wants to try to use tampons because she has a very active sports schedule. Poor thing. I was taken right back to when I was 13 and felt jealous of the girls who knew how to use them.

A man’s attitude to periods is a strong indicator of whether he’s the sexist abusive sort or not. Jeff, clearly you are lovely. My ex husband used to wince whenever I put sanitary towels or tampons in the supermarket trolley and when it came to check-out he wouldn’t take them out of the trolley. He made me feel utterly dirty. Hence the suffix ex before husband. By contrast, I make no secret of having tampons and towels in the bathroom to my boys of 9 and 10. My daughter of 13 however, needs her privacy. I only have a few years left to have periods. I shall miss them in a funny way when they’ve stopped.

Of course soap operas should talk about periods. I vividly remember the first media mention I ever of periods was when Rizzo in Grease she’s she’s skipped hers. She said in such a matter of fact, grown up way. I thought it was well handled.

Maybug // Posted 29 July 2010 at 7:08 pm

Shark week!

Sarah // Posted 29 July 2010 at 7:18 pm

My friend and I have called sanitary towels jam rags for as long as I can remember, which is even more appropriate these days, as I use nice cotton reusable ones instead of those horrible chemical-laden plastic things.

(Google ‘Wemoon’ if you’re interested – they’re great; I wish I’d discovered them years ago, they would have saved me a lot of grief in my teens)

At first it was because we found it highly amusing, but these days it’s more because it’s simply just a convenient shorthand.

As a natural progression from that, when we have our periods we say “I’m jammy”, or “It’s jam week”!

G // Posted 29 July 2010 at 7:29 pm

Today, apropos of this discussion, I came up with ‘The Anarchist flag is flying!’ because these are traditionally half-red, half black… usually the state of my pants at some point in the proceedings….

Maybe that’s tmi…

Philippa Willitts // Posted 29 July 2010 at 7:33 pm

I think in this discussion we can for once not worry about tmi!!

saranga // Posted 29 July 2010 at 8:04 pm

I’ll tell you all a secret – I have no idea how to use a tampon. the whoel applicator thing confuses the heck out of me, I wouldn’t have a clue how far to put it in and I just don’t get them. I’m 30 and I’ve only ever used rags (see> I’m so used to calling my sanitary towels rags that writing sanitary towels feels really weird!)

Mornington // Posted 29 July 2010 at 8:10 pm

Maeve – pile cream does indeed make for a very effective – and much cheaper – eyelid primer for mineral/powder makeup.

I too use “shark week” as well as saying “the communists are in the funhouse”; the other favourite is “hunting for the red october” (for which I blame the boyfriend). Mind you, if we’re going for tmi… “cunt stuffers” is a favoured term for tampons.

As for the DM article – I agree with DocDelete as far as lack of imagination. I also have to wonder how long the words were visible – the words in the screen grab are barely legible to me!

Jessica Burton // Posted 29 July 2010 at 11:36 pm

Ah, my favourite subject!

When being discreet my sister used to say “STs” as short for sanitary towels.

I usually say “I’m on my period” or just “I’m on”. But my favourite that I don’t use but love anyway (and it’s from a film) is:

Surfing the crimson wave

– Clueless

I personally use no “protection” (gah!) whatsoever – just wear my dark coloured boxer shorts. I love it SO much but I’ve not managed to convince anyone else so far…

Kate // Posted 30 July 2010 at 12:05 am

Fantastic, Jessica! “Surfing the crimson wave” is my favourite too!

Cloth menstrual pads are the best things ever and I absolutely love mine. :)

Lindsey // Posted 30 July 2010 at 8:30 am

@Jessica Burton

wow! I fear that if I’d tried that I’d spend 5 days sitting in a puddle with a really sticky bum!

I got a contraceptive implant last year and I don’t really get periods any more, just times I refer to as being “smudgy”

Span // Posted 30 July 2010 at 9:24 am

Did no one just tell their kid that a jam rag was a rag used to seal a jar of jam? the phrase is only offensive given its context, it wasn’t obviously rude and those people are choosing to be offended.

I normally say I’m bleeding as I enjoy seeing people’s faces! I don’t use any protection either, just some bog roll really. I’ve always had very light periods, although really painful until I went on the pill, and now they’re practically non existent. If I tried to use even a mini tampon for 8 hours I’d have only used about 1/3 of it. It’s great really. I’m not wasting my cash on expensive products! Whoop!

Span // Posted 30 July 2010 at 9:35 am

Also, apparently the pile cream thing used to work in the 60s but the stuff we get in this country now has some chemical taken out of it meaning that it won’t work on under eyes… I saw that doctor Christian Jesson (or whatever his name is :S) talking about it on TV.

Its quite funny because I’ve heard quite a few people talk about using it so basically they’re just lathering on pile cream for nothing. Still, if it makes people feel better…

Cassie // Posted 30 July 2010 at 9:57 am

I remember the French one as “Les Anglais ont débarqué”. I’ve always assumed it referred to the red of the uniforms.

I can’t imagine wearing no protection whilst the English are disembarking. It would be – literally – a bloody mess. I love my cloth pads (Wemoon and Lunapads, principally). IMy daughter has just chosen her first set of cloth pads, in preparation for her own periods beginning.

I wish I got on better with the Mooncup, but for some reason, I seem not to be able to.

Claire // Posted 30 July 2010 at 11:12 am

My mum has always called period pain ‘bum drop-off’ because of cramps down the backs of her thighs. Ever since a particularly drunken night, my friend and I have called it Special Lady Time, because of the way it’s treated as some kind of deeply feminine mystery. I also call applicator tampons ‘rocket launchers’. Great post, I’ve been giggling in the office!

Denise // Posted 30 July 2010 at 11:49 am

Saranga, those tampon applicator things are beyond useless – I could never use them. Just use tampons which don’t come with applicators. Relax and use your middle finger to gently push up and back until it’s gone beyond the muscles at the entrance to your vagina and you can’t feel it any more. Use a blob of ky jelly if you need a bit of lubrication with the insert, but on heavy days you won’t need that. When pulling it out, again, relax and be gentle.

Simple!

Lynne Miles // Posted 30 July 2010 at 12:36 pm

I so love this thread! Girls in my school used to call them “sanny pads” which isn’t very endearing. I personally hate “on the blob” and “jam rags” but I can’t imagine ever feeling moved to complain to Emmerdale about it.

Sheila // Posted 30 July 2010 at 12:36 pm

So I was working on the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (now the Competition COmmission) enquiry into “feminine hygiene products” almost 20 years ago and came across the term digital tampon. I hadn’t heard it before. By the way did you know most women (at least 20 years ago) made their choice of sanitary product in their teens and NEVER showed that brand any true disloyalty – emergencies and holidays excepted. That’s why teenage magazine advertising is so lucrative to the manufacturers. Anyway, I kept on reading about digital tampons and how so many women were using them and felt I was missing out. Remember 20 years ago mobile phones were new and we didn’t have the internet. I had no idea how a tampon could be digital. Did it bleep when it needed changing, like a microwave when it’s finished cooking? So I turned to my very nice male boss and asked him. Very funny. We revelled in the enquiry – I bought every single type of towel and tampon I could find and wrote a detailed research paper for another (gay) male boss about how to use them. The MMC and EU Competition Commission were very professional about it and not in the least embarrassed which I thought was great. Does anyone know if VAT is charged on sanpro? I remember talking about campaigning that it ought to be exempt, which would be even better now we’re getting 20% VAT rate.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 30 July 2010 at 12:39 pm

Hi Sheila,

I also remember campaigning on the VAT situation, because period products were classed at the time as ‘non-essential items’ and so had VAT added.

We did succeed in getting them VAT exempt at the time. Hopefully that hasn’t changed in the meantime!

Nick // Posted 30 July 2010 at 1:01 pm

‘Arsenal playing at home’,

‘the painters are aound’,

‘Uncle Tom’s (T.O.M.) staying’.

I love ‘Chocolate time’, guys reading this, put a chocky reminder on your phone or have a secret stash of Chocky around the place….

FeminaErecta // Posted 30 July 2010 at 1:03 pm

*grins broadly in attempt to muffle guffors which would then have to explain to rest of office* Riding the Silicon Pony! Ha! Gonna be using that forever.

Shiha Kaur // Posted 30 July 2010 at 1:29 pm

A German friend calls it “Erdbeere Tagen” which literally translates as strawberry days. From a linguistic point of view it’s interesting looking on the museum of menstruation site how certain phrases get translated/ adapted into other languages. For example, most seem to have a version of an aunt comming to visit.

Sheila // Posted 30 July 2010 at 1:30 pm

I looked it up. We are charged VAT at the reduced rate of 5% on sanpro since 2001.

http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageLibrary_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000098&propertyType=document#P23_1491

Hannah // Posted 30 July 2010 at 5:01 pm

@ Phillippa and Sheila, I can’t believe that period products could be classed as non-essential! I mean, I know you could just use toilet paper or nothing at all, but really…I don’t think that would be a popular method… Perhaps they were using men as the standard of what is essential and normal, as is usually the case.

@saranga, I’ve never used tampons either. My mum just gave me a box of them when I started my periods, but when I tried to work out how to use them I thought I had got one ‘stuck’ and it was pretty distressing as a 14 year old! I’m sure I’d be ok with it now, it’s just, I’m set in my habits.

Talking of weird starting your period stories, when I started my mum told me I must hide all my sanitary towels in a cabinet in my room, and never leave used ones in the bathroom bin or openly in the bin in my room in case my brother or dad saw them. Looking back on it, and this was only eight years ago, it’s such a weird thing for a modern woman to do, and I don’t know what it says about her relationship with my dad. Well, I got over the sense of shame she tried to give me and am now all the more determined to leave things on show now I live in a house with boys. Ha!

Alison // Posted 30 July 2010 at 6:05 pm

Fallen to the communists or waving the red flag are my favourites, although does no-one remember ‘surfing the crimson wave’ from Clueless?

I had a nasty sheet/leakage incident the other weekend (first time for years) and my boyfriend was so understanding about it, I couldn’t believe it. I was more freaked out than he was.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 30 July 2010 at 6:29 pm

I’ve updated the original post now, with all the euphemisms from this comment discussion!

Rose // Posted 30 July 2010 at 6:58 pm

My mother, a very proper and old-fashioned English lady who gets embarrassed at the slightest mention of Such Things, always refers to tampons and towels as ‘necessaries’, i.e. “Do you need me to buy any more necessaries?”

Jacqui // Posted 30 July 2010 at 7:57 pm

I love this thread! I have a mooncup and love it, but when I used ‘traditional protection’ I used to call them towels – not very exciting. But I do remember my young daughters seeing them in the bathroom and me telling them they were towels. Then next time we went to the swimming baths they had a packet each in their bags which they got out in the changing rooms.

And periods were ‘relief week’! My mother never ever referred to periods, but always said ‘are you due?’ whenever I disagreed with her, assumung PMS.

Pile cream: everyone I know uses it as a tatoo after treatment to reduce the swelling!

LiseyDuck // Posted 30 July 2010 at 8:05 pm

I’m quite fond of ‘vampire teabags’ or Jo Brand’s suggestion of ‘fairy hammocks’, but it would confuse my boyfriend a bit too much if I actually put it on a shopping list. My mooncup gets called names like ‘the plunger’ or ‘my wine glass’ due to looking similar to those items. ‘Sannies’ makes me laugh – around the time I started having periods there was an advert for some chocolate or other where the phrase was ‘yummy for your tummy’ so of course when the next ad was for menstrual stuff my first thought was ‘sannies for your fanny’. Sadly it didn’t catch on…

Helen Scorned // Posted 30 July 2010 at 8:49 pm

Back in the olden days I used to work in the civil service and was the women’s section rep of the union on various committees. I raised the issue of a failure to replenish the sanitary towel machine on a regular enough basis. The man who chaired that committee was obviously not comfortable and referred to sanitary towels as ‘female items’, coughing and spluttering his way through the response and repeating the phrase ‘female items’ a number of times. Everyone was quite subdued during this until he finally cleared his throat and said nice and clearly, ‘anyway, the next item on the agenda’…. We all fell about laughing.

saranga // Posted 30 July 2010 at 9:38 pm

i should clarify – i’ve got absolutely no interest in using a tampon. i’ve been using rags for 16 years so the idea of stuffing a tampon up my muff is not appealing.

I am lolling at the euphemisms here and am tempted to crack open the Viz profanosauras to see what they’ve got..

annifrangipani // Posted 30 July 2010 at 11:16 pm

Love this discussion! Along with @JessicaBurton I ran a group for Bristol FN on this very topic. It was great.

I’m so using “riding the silicone pony”, my partner will love that. And thanks for the wemoon advice, I’m going for them as my flow is so heavy I fill a mooncup very quickly.

It’s interesting that previously pads & tampons were considered “non-essential”, particularly as something we discussed was “showing” your blood. If all of us women chose not to use sanpro, the powers that be might soon change their minds! Although I expect that was big business making as much cash as possible out of our necessary bodily functions. Oops, up on my ranty horse (not silicone).

beth // Posted 31 July 2010 at 12:47 am

relating to the ‘les Anglais/es’ thing – i found that really interesting seeing as we call condoms French letters – i think I remember that the french have an ‘english’ type name for them too – i wonder if the traditional antagonism causes us to use ‘french’ for things we find somehow distasteful and vice versa? interesting anyway!

sweetviolet // Posted 31 July 2010 at 7:25 am

@ Beth

That’s a tradition that goes back at least as far as Shakespeare, we called syphilis ‘the French disease’ and they called it ‘the English disease’.

I’ve always preferred phrases like ‘shark week’ or ‘the bloodening’ because I like the drama, but everyone at school used to say ‘on the blob’ or just ‘blobbing’.

Also high-five all fellow users of washable blood receptacles! I started using wemoon pads only a few months ago and they’re SO GOOD. I had no idea the the sweatiness and skin rash I got during the bloodening was completely optional! I wish a got along with the mooncup, for swimming and so on, but I can’t actually get it in, even with lube. How embarrassing.

Lisa :) // Posted 31 July 2010 at 5:31 pm

I remember my ex once very horrifyingly shouting through to the bedroom “There’s a MOUSE in the toilet!!!” I had no idea how it could have gotten in there, but when I went to have a look I noticed a tampon which hadn’t flushed properly… I guess it has something to do with the tail which hangs out when you use them?! He would also hide under the water in the bath when I went in to use the toilet, so he didn’t have to listen!

In comparison, my current boyfriend asked his ex to show him how she inserted a tampon and is very supportive. His hand on my abdomen is my favourite thing whilst I’m in the painful part of my period and we’re in bed together :) (It’s better now we’ve been together a while and I’ve managed to talk him out of wanting to take me to A&E every time I come on!)

My brother also calls tampons Rockets and he is in complete denial when it comes to periods and women’s bodies behaving like, well, women’s bodies (!), which means that I, of course, always talk in very obvious terms about such things infront of him… Down to giving a very in depth description of my recent laparoscopy to try to investigate my painful periods and the fact that my cervix is too tight to allow a Mirena coil to be inserted! Ha! Take that inappropriateness!

Thanks also to everyone for talking about eco-menses. I will be having my bleed next week and this week I have finally put a Mooncup on my shopping list :D

Elmo // Posted 31 July 2010 at 10:09 pm

Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?!?

Sheila // Posted 1 August 2010 at 12:28 pm

Elmo, for goodness’ sake. How many children do you have? My three (like all children I know) went through a phase of wanting to know all about bodily functions. Why do you think the books, “Why is snot green?” and “Why do farts smell like rotten eggs?” are so popular. Children love to explore their bodies. It’s adults that get “grossed out” not children. I don’t think tampons need to be on display or discussed much more than loo roll (apart from educating on how to use them) but they’re just as much a part of life, so what do you mean by think of the children?

Philippa Willitts // Posted 1 August 2010 at 12:35 pm

Sheila, FWIW I think Elmo was joking!

Elmo // Posted 1 August 2010 at 1:36 pm

um…yes i was :s sorry! Its a simpsons quote

I like “fallen to the communists” cos it makes the whole thing sound much more exciting that a few days of mess and intense cramps

aimee // Posted 1 August 2010 at 4:33 pm

Whoever thought of ‘Shark Week’ is a genius :)

hmc // Posted 1 August 2010 at 7:47 pm

@Jessica Burton

Just to let you know you’re not the only one! I don’t usually use anything either…much more comfortable!

JenniferRuth // Posted 2 August 2010 at 11:12 am

My friends and I used to call it “sloughing my endometrial layer”

We were studying physiology at the time though :)

Moja // Posted 2 August 2010 at 8:04 pm

I don’t know if it’s an American thing or what, but as far as I’ve ever heard the crimson wave is the period, and to ride the crimson wave is to have sex with a woman on her period. I’ve always found this somewhat offensive, but I can’t quite pinpoint/explain why.

powers // Posted 16 August 2010 at 10:46 pm

I once worked at a girl scout camp in the US and my lovely group of girls decorated their cabin with pads and hung tampons around the door (unused!) I had a giggle with them and gave them a bit of a telling off about how wasteful it was. The head of the programme however gave them such a telling off, said it was “disgusting” that they should be “ashamed of themselves”, made them take it all down and then gave me a telling off because how could I possibly think that was appropriate- how on eath can it be appropriate for a girl scout leader to tell teenagers that their bodies are disgusting and they should be ashamed of them!! (btw this isn’t an American bashing comment- the leader was British!)

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds