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Feminist Toolkit: Free Tampons For All

By UoN Feminists

Picture the scene: you’re going about your day, power walking to work, singing along to your favourite feminist anthem, smashing the patriarchy with every step you take. And then it comes: the familiar wetness between the legs, and you’ve left your stash of tampons at home.

You break it down; you’ve got a few options:
1) Go home and pick up your provisions
2) Buy some more
3) Hang around in the toilet and hope someone armed with menstrual protection comes to your rescue
4) Bleed on yourself, and potentially others

As you’ve already forked out this week to buy the new trousers you’re fashioning today, options 2 and 4 will have to go. Risking being late for work whilst weighing up your shortlist with frustration, you have a light bulb moment.

You realise what’s been missing all this time; wouldn’t it just be great if you could access free tampons in your workplace? You tease out the idea in your head: your place of work won’t fund them and you can’t sustain a communal tampon stash out of your own back pocket. Then you think back to all those times where you’ve been accompanied by an unneeded tampon goldmine in your bag. If there were a collection point for those tampons, never again would a woman like you be stuck in the street weighing up her options.

Taking action, you march home inspired by your revolutionary idea. You wash up last night’s takeaway tub, grab the box of tampons in your draw and a few pads for good measure, rushing to work, pausing only for an instant to plug your own menstrual flow. Arriving at work you tear into the bathroom, ripping apart an old envelope from your desk and securing it onto the tub, scribbling on it a few words about your idea.

You feel elation as you place the tub in the bathroom and stare back at the revolution you have started. The words read: “The Sisterhood of the Slightly Stained Pants: please take a tampon if you are in need, and put one back whenever you have a spare”

DISCLAIMER – this story is not entirely fictional.

UoN Feminists, Nottingham University’s feminist campaign group had a very similar revelation. We call them Tampon Tubs and we want them to empower women by ensuring a ready supply of menstrual protection. We thought it was important that an unexpected period should not impede women in our university, therefore this term we will be placing Tampon Tubs in our Student’s Union building.

One of the best parts of this campaign is that the Sisterhood of the Slightly Stained Pants can be easily built wherever you are. Here is a how to guide to setting up your own:

#1: Find a container: any kind of Tupperware, tub or bowl will do. For best results, choose something plastic and transparent.

#2: Next, label your container explaining the ethos behind the idea. Make sure people know that the sustainability of the system relies upon others replenishing the tub.

#3: Provide an initial supply of tampons and pads. Depending on your outlet, you could gather a group to chip in or secure funding from your Student’s Union, employers, or nearest patriarchal figure.

#4: Place your tub in the toilet in your place of work, school, university, or anywhere else. We recommend this facility for women’s, gender-neutral, unisex and disabled toilets.

#5: Finally, tell everyone about it! Make sure your tubs are known about and used. Share the idea and encourage your friends to do the same. The more Tampon Tubs about, the more women are able to arrange their periods around their lives rather than the other way around!

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3 thoughts on “Feminist Toolkit: Free Tampons For All

  1. Leisa Taylor

    Great idea but here’s a better longterm one……

    Government funded mooncups for all girls on menarche which are sustainable both environmentally and economically. They don’t have any of the health risks attached to tampons use and don’t add to the world problem of landfill at such an alarming rate.

    Widespread use of menstrual diaries. Helpful for predicting your next flow and your most self aware, creative and reflective times.

    Wouldn’t suit everyone but both have real potential for empowering girls and women around the world.

    Tampon vs. Mooncup Rap Battle –

  2. Roy

    As someone who has a habit of reminding NUS about VAT on sanitary Towls, it used to be a core Policy then 2 things happend:
    1) Loans for living costs, Followed by Loans for Fees, Followed by ever increasing fees became a core Policy.

    2) VAT was reduced from full VAT to 5%.

    5% is too much. Women include the lowest paid group (in General – before anyone goes what about the Fat Cat Women running Police Services, Government Ministries and companies.).

    Sanitary Products is an essential item, I would go so far as to say discussions should be had about subsidising them. this may sound odd as that means women would pay more tax and get it back again, but I would think it would be better to subsidise so that even those that don’t use them (men) can share some of the costs of that Biology (they pay through Tax).

  3. Kristen

    Meh. I dislike the idea of anybody telling me I have to put a certain thing in my body. Even if it’s a mooncup. Even if it’s free. Dioxins considered, besides mooncups, there are sustainable period products available that are less harmful than most tampons available now. Cloth menstrual pads, for one. Options are important to have.

    This is definitely a social justice issue, though. In Half the Sky (don’t lambast me for referencing this!) Kristof and WuDunn talk about how many developing world teens miss school entirely because they don’t have _any kind_ of sanitary product available to them. I would love to see sister campaigns spring up that would help other women, too.


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