Period Pride celebrated on campus
The first National Period Pride Day was declared by NUS on Thursday and the University of Sussex took part in a unique way.
A section of Room 76 was dominated by posters, paint and playdough to engage in some light-hearted fun with a serious message.
Rianna Gargiulo, Welfare Officer and event organiser said: “Like many cultural habits, period shame is so entrenched in our society, in so many seemingly innocuous ways it may be difficult to notice at first glance, hence why some people don’t see the merit in hosting an event such as this.”
Period shaming is not just about the embarrassment that surrounds menstruation, but the encouragement to keep menstruation discreet.
Pippa Sterk, Chair of Sussex FemSoc, said: “Menstruation is still a taboo in lots of spaces, even those we might regard as progressive, for seemingly no other reason than that vaginas are linked to [the concept of] womanhood and many people cannot fathom the idea that womanhood can exist in a sphere that is not always sexy and appealing to men.”
The event also addressed the much discussed issue of Tampon Tax, which the Students Union has been tackling by taking profits off sanitary products in the Union Shop and holding a Free Periods campaign.
President Barack Obama recently said he suspected Tampon Tax was put in place because people who did not have vaginas were making the laws.
The Free Periods event which is held every Wednesday in Falmer house has proved to be a success since it began in October last year.
Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Activities Officer, said: “It’s ridiculous that these items that are essential for people with vaginas to use and they’re still classed as luxury products and that is a misogynist policy and it needs to end.”
Period Pride also collected donations of sanitary products for homeless shelters in Brighton and refugees in Calais with the Free Period stand offering a ‘take one donate one’ policy.
The Free Period campaign usually allows students to take two packets of sanitary products, but Period Pride gave the opportunity for students to donate their second packet to people that face great difficulty when menstruating due to the expense of products.
With activities such as knicker painting and moulding vaginas from playdough Period Pride was deemed to be a surprising success.
Rianna Gargiulo said: “I didn’t think this would create as much attention as it has, and only expected numbers fewer than 20, although now I’m not sure what to expect as the numbers have rocketed on Facebook. I’m not sure we’ll have enough pants.”
National Period Pride Day was founded by the Feminist Society at Newcastle University last year, and has been adopted by a number of institutions since.