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【開催報告】Menstrual Hygiene Day with Period@Tokyo (2020.5.28)

お久しぶりです!

学生スタッフのあきです。

GSセンターではグローバル化・多様化する早稲田の学生のニーズに答えるべく、英語話者向けのイベントを開催しています。今回は生理と衛生について考える MH Day(5月28日)に合わせて Period@Tokyo さんと生理について考えるイベントを英語で実施しました!今回は当日の様子を実施言語の英語で紹介させていただきます~

These are some highlights from the event that we hosted online on Menstrual Hygiene Day!

What is Menstrual Hygiene Day? 

Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th) is a campaign that was started by a German NGO to advocate for the destigmatization of periods and access to period products worldwide. You can check out their website here.

Our collaborator: Period@Tokyo

As our guest, we welcomed Marina, a representative at the Tokyo chapter of the global Period Movement.

The Period Movement is a non-for profit organization that tries to destigmatize periods to tackle the many social issues associated with menstruation.

Their Tokyo chapter was founded as a response to the raising of the consumption tax in 2019 when period products, despite being a necessity for many people, were not included in the list of items exempt from the raise.

Period@Tokyo does talks at schools and does many campaigns on social media platforms (check out their Instagram here!) Under covid-19, they have been participating in the #GiveLove campaign, where they have been donating period products to frontline health workers.

Periods as a social issue

An important aspect of feminist and human rights activism is to take the "personal" and "private" problems and to turn them into social and public issues. I felt that both Menstrual Hygiene Day and Period@Tokyo were striving for just that goal.

One major issue about periods worldwide is the high cost of menstrual hygiene products worldwide. It places a major financial burden on menstruators (many of who are women) and the lack of access to such products causes them to miss out on opportunities such as education. The tampon tax can make things worse. The tampon tax refers to the extra amount of money in taxes that menstruators must pay for period products that they do not otherwise have to pay for other essential goods.

The underlying cause of these structural issues is the strong taboo associated with periods around the world. It makes it difficult for menstruators to speak up about their needs and lawmakers (who are disproportionately non-menstruators) to be fully about period issues In Japan, you can see these taboos when you shop for period products like tampons and pads. The store clerk will likely put your period products into brown bags instead of translucent plastic bags because even the act of buying period products is considered "embarrassing" (and no, not because brown bags are more environmentally friendly...). If you want to learn more about psychoanalytical theories on why periods are taboo, I highly recommend you take a look at an essay called "From Filth to Defilement" in the book Powers of Horror: an Essay on Abjection by Julia Kristeva.

How should we talk about periods?

Destigmatizing periods means having open conversations about them. Because not all women have periods, and because not all people who have periods are women, Marina suggested using the term, menstruators to refer to people who get periods.

How should menstruators and non-menstruators talk about periods? According to Marina, it is the non-menstruators' responsibility to ask more questions and to phrase them in a respectful manner. Menstruators, on the other hand, should try to share their knowledge and experience frankly, openly, and without shame.

Voices of our participants: what we discussed

In my discussion group, we talked quite a bit about the social taboos surrounding periods and the many "myths" that we hear about period products. 

We talked about how, in many cases, periods are taboo amongst women. One way we can see this is in communal shower rooms in Japan. People who are on their periods are recommended to shower late at night after everyone else had already showered. If you're familiar with the communal bath culture in Japan, it is quite lonely to be forced to shower alone. While it might make sense to not go into the communal bathtub on your period due to sanitary concerns, it doesn't mean we can't shower together when the water, along with any blood, just goes down the drain.

Want to learn more about future events in English?

You can sign up for our English Mailing List for more information about English events at the Gender and Sexuality Center. We also hold regular LGBT themed meetups in English through this mailing list.
https://my.waseda.jp/application/noauth/application-detail-noauth?param=m03r-WhMJBJwb63guRFA6g

That's it for today,

See you next time!

Aki
Student Staff
Waseda University Gender and Sexuality Center 

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