The aim of #periodpositive is to serve as a benchmark for open and informed provision and information about menstruation and reproductive health, by anyone, in any country, but as a starting point, the campaign is focusing on UK settings and companies that support or impact young people.
Follow @chellaquint and @periodpositive, and check back soon for more resources and updates on Period Positive Schools, free Period Positive workshop activities for schools, companies and other organisations, and for training opportunities.
Click the link for Menstruation Education Top Tips.
Read Chella’s guest post at Education for Choice.
Take the short (really short – only two questions) survey and think about how #periodpositive you are day to day!
What does period positive mean?
Chella developed #PeriodPositive to counteract the mainly negative public discourse. She accepts that people both love and hate periods, but tries to unpick how big an influence the media plays in these attitudes. She aims for ‘period neutral’, using a positive approach.
If you are period positive, this means you are willing to confidently ask and/or frankly answer questions about periods, understand the importance for menstruators to chart their cycle and treat it as a vital sign, avoid passing on shame to others, and if you joke about it, that you make sure menstruators aren’t the butt of the joke.
The most compelling bits of my research findings are the impact of advertising messages on the fears kids have reported about menstruation. Their concerns have been of shame, secrecy and leakage fear. There’s a history of language use and deliberate marketing in schools that demonstrates a clear link, and it all comes down to two things – secrecy-vs.-privacy, and shame. Privacy is fine – that’s a boundary you’re setting and it’s about safety, choice and consent. Secrecy, on the other hand, is not ok. Secrecy is someone else – whether that’s a parent, teacher, advertising message or society more generally – telling you that you need to be quiet about something – or that you need to do whatever it takes to make a part of you invisible. That’s no way to be, as anyone who experiences intersectional oppressions or whose gender identity, race or ethnicity, sexuality, or disability is not immediately apparent.
And that’s where shame comes in. No one has the right to imply that anyone’s identity, body, or bodily function (or dysfunction, for that matter) is shameful, makes people uncomfortable, or should be hidden or kept secret, and yet that is how menstruation education is most often approached (or avoided) in schools. By not taking more interest in the quality and purpose of the current menstruation education currently on offer in all but a handful of schools (and there are some where individual teachers are aiming to change this), there is a tacit complicity in the status quo, which #periodpositive serves to challenge.
Watch Chella’s TEDx talk to find out more!
#periodpositive believes that menstruation education should be:
- Free, unbranded, objective, inclusive of reusables (like menstrual cups and cloth pads), and easy to understand
- Consistently taught by trained staff, factually accurate, up-to-date and well-researched, with learners’ needs in mind, and regularly evaluated with pupils and menstruation education practitioners, with excellent communication to other faculties, parents and community partners about the content of lessons
- Able to scaffold and complement lessons on fertility, puberty and reproductive health, with an awareness of physiological differences and medical conditions related to reproductive health and healthy menstrual cycles as a vital sign
- Supported more comprehensively across he curriculum, particularly in science and PSHE but also in media studies and design and technology
- Aimed at different age groups, starting well before puberty (and ensuring to use the correct names for body parts, even with very young children) and revisited regularly
- Inclusive of all genders, cultures, abilities and sexualities (the way all high quality SRE should be), with adapted resources where appropriate
- Supportive of easy menstruation management in school and equipped to signpost diverse and effective ways of menstruation management in future
Chella was the Sheffield International Documentary Festival Specialist Factual New Talent Pitch winner for 2013. Here is a short film she presented for the Open University about the effects of advertising on the menstrual discourse: Lifting the Lid. She is coordinating the UK participants in the global Menstrual Hygiene Day events on 28th May.
Check out Chella’s menstrual product advertising analysis and comedy activism blog, Adventures in Menstruating for more updates.
Follow and contribute your #periodpositive thoughts and ideas on Twitter. You can also use the #periodpositive hashtag on Twitter, and download your own STAINS™ stain! STAINS™ was featured in the BLOOD exhibition at Science Gallery Dublin this past autumn.
28 May will be Menstrual Hygiene Day. What will you do to ensure that #MenstruationMatters?