Are you in the know about nature’s flow?
It’s one of the most natural things in the world and a huge aspect of women’s health, yet there’s so much we don’t know about periods. Women menstruate monthly for about 40 years—close to 500 times in a lifetime—yet the topic’s enduring taboo status leaves most of us medically and socially in the dark. Without any real education, we’re left with false assumptions, gross misunderstandings, and comically ridiculous guesses that do our women and our culture a disservice. It’s time we take this taboo off the shelf and proudly walk it to the register.
When was the word “period” first said in a TV commercial?
Print advertising may have featured sanitary products since the roaring ’20s, but on-air advertising wasn’t allowed until 1972. And it was more than a decade before America’s trailblazing Friend, Courteney Cox, became the first woman to say the word, in a Tampax commercial. Now, that’s progress.
Source: Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, Watch Here
When America’s first female astronaut, Sally Ride, prepared for her 1983 week-long space mission, how many tampons did NASA offer to pack just in case?
When Ride let her NASA engineers know that 100 wasn’t exactly the right number of tampons necessary for the trip, they responded, “Well, we want to be safe.” (For the record, the average woman uses about 20 tampons during her 3–5-day-long period.)
Source: NASA Johnson Space Center
What famous filmmaker(s) produced an animated short film called “The Story of Menstruation”?
Is that a red spot on your dress, Minnie? In 1946, Walt Disney Productions teamed up with Kotex to create an educational cartoon shown to girls throughout U.S. schools well into the late ’60s. More a sign of the times and less progressively minded than today’s educators might prefer, the film filled with vapidly helpful tips like putting on makeup and keeping “well-groomed” is now preserved in the National Film Registry.
Source: Library of Congress
- Hayao Miyazaki
- Walt Disney
- Tim Burton
- Trey Parker & Matt Stone
How much money does the state of California make from pad and tampon sales in a year?
As in most of the U.S., feminine hygiene products in California are subject to a state sales tax. Many opponents argue that tampons and pads should be exempt from taxation and treated as a basic health necessity—like some states do with Viagra, despite still maintaining the controversial “tampon tax.”
Source: California Assemblymember Cristina Garcia 2016 Press Release
- $2 million
- $20 million
Which country started mandating “menstrual leave” in the 1940s?
Japan, it turns out, was way ahead of our fourth-period gym class. As record numbers of women entered the nation’s post-WWII workforce, the country passed a law granting seirikyuuka (physiological leave) for women suffering from painful cramps. Today’s high schoolers may still be trying to convince their coaches it’s a legit excuse—but for up to 20% of women, cramp pain can be so severe that it completely impedes daily activities. Ouch!
Sources: 1947 Labor Standards Law; The American Academy of Family Physicians
How many euphemisms for menstruation exist around the world?
A period by any other name is still just a period. After surveying 90,000 women from 190 countries, Clue (a period tracking app) and the International Women’s Health Coalition found that euphemism usage is extremely common—in fact, 78% of respondents used slang terms. Of the thousands that exist, some of our favorites include “ketchup week” (France), “the marquis has arrived,” (Italian), “Granny’s stuck in traffic,” (South Africa), and “surfing the crimson wave” (Clueless, 1995).
How’d you do?
The truth is, these questions don’t even come close to covering all there is to know about menstruation. A lot remains unknown about women’s health education, access to sanitary products, and affordability. If you’re interested in learning more, advance to Part III of our site, “Bleeding for Equality.”