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Last week we had a period party.
Admittedly I’ve been procrastinating writing this piece – not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I have SO MUCH to say - I’m still so full of emotion and FEELS from the experience. I think it’s fair to say that those who attended the ‘Women on a mission: periods, privilege and public shaming’ event at Melbourne’s The Blow last week would agree that the atmosphere in the room was electric and pretty powerful; particularly for such a small space with such a small group of people - but it was a prime example of what can happen when you get a passionate group of women (and one very courageous man) in a room to talk women’s rights.
Despite the heaviness of some of the stories shared, the vibe was upbeat - we were just all so stoked to be there! I was grateful that people had left the comfort of their couches on a freezing Winter’s night to come see us! And that people asked questions and joined in the convo about *gasp* PERIODS! And VAGINAS!!
Some may argue that period shame or embarrassment is ‘not a thing’, but I’ve been at the receiving end of it myself (a story for another day) and I can confirm, with conviction, that there are a lot of people out there who are not yet ready to (really) talk about periods. Others may argue that ‘we don’t need to talk about periods, just get on with it’ – which is easy to say of you’re a person of privilege – someone who probably doesn’t have to think about where their next tampon or pad is going to come from; someone who doesn’t have to worry that they might have to miss school because they won’t be able to manage their period. These are very real things that are happening right on our doorsteps. These are problems that need solving. These are the reasons why we need to have more period parties!
Hosted by Emma Rutherford-Ward of Vee underwear (those super-comfy, hoo-ha friendly bamboo knickers), I sat alongside the legendary Rochelle Courtenay, founder of Share The Dignity (if you’ve been living under a rock for the last four years, Share the Dignity are the champions who are doing their darndest to end period poverty in Australia by providing donated fem-care to those who need it most) to talk all thangs periods.
It was a proud moment for me. I found myself in a forum amongst intelligent, sympathetic/empathetic people willing to share some incredible stories (or just be good listeners), without the fear of judgement. I was just so honoured to be in that mix – all thanks to our lil’ baby, Moxie (it’s amazing where things lead you sometimes, isn’t it?). I felt a little sense of ‘YAY! I’ve made it!’
The conversation was raw, emotional, feminist AF, funny... in a short space of time, with a small group of peeps, we definitely broke some barriers. I talked about my experiences with period poverty in Uganda, where we launched our ‘Pads for Pads’ initiative (designed to curb the high rates of school absenteeism amongst young girls due to lack of adequate menstrual hygiene management); Rochelle talked about the shocking prevalence of period poverty in Australia and what we can all do, collectively to help end it; and, also her championing role in pressing the Australian Federal Government to ‘axe the tampon tax’ (tamps, pads and similar products are now GST free in Australia – huzzah!).
The highlight of the night? For me it was the presence of that lone, very brave gentleman who came and attentively joined in the conversation OF HIS OWN FREE WILL, vowing to do his best to help break down taboos and barriers whilst opening up the dialogue around periods amongst men in particular. He came up to me at the end of the event and said, “What can I do to help?” My response? “Tell your mates you were here tonight and that you’re an absolute champion and that they should be more like you”.
Conversations are just words, people. We say them all the time. We’re generally quite good at them, but sometimes we don’t speak up when we’re meant to. We need to get better at that. Without conversation, we won’t have action; and, without action, we won’t drive change.
What can you do? Start talking about periods, in any and all the contexts – with your mums, sisters, daughters, brothers, dads, friends, colleagues, teachers – and encourage them to do the same. It’s time to really step up and put an end to period shame for good and all that comes with it - one period party (or convo between friends) at a time.
Penned by Mia Klitsas-Marcocci
Moxie Co-Founder and Head Moxette @MoxieHQ
Left to right: Emma Rutherford-Ward, Rochelle Courtenay and Mia Klitsas-Marcocci.
Thanks to our friends at The Blow, particularly Phoebe Simmonds, for hosting this incred and hopefully-not-the-last-of-its-kind event, and of course, the superstars who came along and took part. All ticket proceeds have been donated to Share the Dignity, with a heap Moxie products and Vee Underwear also donated to help our fellow sisters in need.
Head to the 'Events' story tab on our MoxieHQ Insta to see more highlights from the night.