Free Bleeding Movement
Free bleeding is the practice of menstruating without blocking or collecting the period flow, and while people have been doing it for centuries, in recent years it has become a subject of public debate.
The Free Bleeding movement has one main focus, and that is for women to menstruate openly and without the shame (specifically from men). This movement is something that has been discussed between other women for centuries. From middle class women using nothing to stop their flows to the elites using rags, menstruation has been looked down upon for ages.
The movement started in the 1970s as a reaction to toxic shock syndrome, a rare and sometimes fatal condition that can be caused when bacteria grow in tampons worn to absorb menstrual bleeding. It regained popularity in 2014 as a result of a prank originating in the internet site 4chan. As a result of this prank Kiran Gandhi ran in the London Marathon, while free bleeding. The movement focuses on a woman's own comfort. The movement has also led to free products for women in school bathrooms. More recently, efforts have been made to extend this movement to transmen who also menstruate as part of "menstrual equality". Some campuses are adding free menstrual products to men's bathrooms as well.
Menstrual Practices in India
Many cultures have different approaches to this monthly experience for women, some which are celebratory and others shameful. These may differ from rituals to extreme isolation. For example, Menstruation huts, used in Balinese and Hindus in South India as well as by Rastafarian societies, serve as a “protection system” for women who are menstruating to keep them separated from their families. They believe these huts protect one, especially during their first period, from bad dreams as long as they stay awake all through the night.
These extreme forms of shame and suppress come from the same social agents as they do in many other countries and areas in the world, including media, parental sensitivity, and peers/people within the community. “In India [menstruation] is considered unclean, and young girls are restricted from participating in household and religious activities during menstruation."This sense of uncleanliness is partially due to only 12% of women being able to afford the necessary sanitation needed for periods.
Progressive Practices in Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea
Some southeastern Asian countries are progressive when it comes to menstruation practices in the workplace. Japan was the first country to take the lead for period leave in 1947. Subsequently following, South Korea now offers women 1 day off per month. Taiwanese have 3 days off per year, and Indonesians are allowed to take 2 days off per month. Japan first originally started period leave for more simplistic reasons of sanitation since women used to have to use rags and cotton cloth for period products. With todays developed period products, women can take leave for cramps and discomfort that usually accompanies periods for most women.
Free bleeding panties are a result of the free bleeding movement that have received media attention. These products are in response to the use of tampons. Thinx, a popular brand of free bleeding underwear, launched a boy-shorts product in honor of Trans Awareness Week. The company changed their slogan to "underwear for people with periods" and hired a trans man to model the product. The Thinx Underwear is a reusable, machine washable underwear that is meant to hold up to two tampons of menstrual tissue.
Menstrual cups are another alternative to tampons and pads. These small, flexible, cups are meant to be inserted in the vagina and collect menstrual tissue. The cup is made of medical grade silicone.
Both of these products are meant to either completely replace the tampon or aid them in their work.
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