Women have been using tampons during menstruation periods for centuries now. The earliest record of tampons dates back to Egyptian women in the fifteenth century B.C. They were not always made of cotton either. In fact, Roman women used wool tampons and in ancient Japan tampons were made out of paper. So, for something that has been around for thousands of year, why are tampons so taboo to talk about?
Recently the FYE office had been passing out tampons to students around campus as a free sample that we had gotten from a company called Free College Stuff. The boxes included two tampons and two pads that were available for any student who wanted them. Unfortunately, we got some negative feedback from students while tabling these free giveaways which really opened up my eyes. As a female, I was enraged that people were getting so upset over tampons. This is a necessity in the lives of many and many people can not afford this “luxury”, so I felt that the fact that FYE was giving these out for FREE was very thoughtful. But, as a mentor in the FYE office, I understand where people are coming from. If you were not aware of the reasons we were giving these out and why they matter to so many people, questioning and feedback was necessary. How can you learn without asking questions? I am here to answer your questions, let you know why tabling tampons isn’t a big deal, and how it actually can benefit everyone!
- “I’m a guy, why would you give these out to me?!”– Valid questions, but you know what else is valid, your gender identity! While tabling tampons, I do not want to assume someone’s gender just by the way they look. Just because someone “looks like a girl”, doesn’t mean they identify as female! So, handing out tampons to everyone, regardless of how they present themselves is what I am going to do! If you biologically can’t use the tampons, give them to someone in your life who can benefit from them! OR, if you get a nosebleed, use it to stop the blood!
- “I don’t want to carry them around with me!”– Understandable! The taboo nature that society has put on tampons may get you some strange looks while walking around campus, but in reality who cares?! If they are something that you need because of something that you get monthly, who cares. The 30 seconds of looks you will get will save you the hour long looks you will get if you don’t have one on you when you really need it!
- “Why tampons? Why not more candy?”– Unfortunately, we don’t always get to chose what we receive as free samples from this company! They look at statistics about our school and give us samples based on those! So, they saw that we are a predominantly female populated university (65% female) and offered us these free samples. Although free candy is great, free tampons are even better for many reasons, one being that tampons are so expensive! If you’ve ever had to buy a box, you know the struggle! A box of tampons can range anywhere between $7 to $16, so offering students free samples of something that is so expensive versus candy, that isn’t so expensive, is a more financially responsible thing to do!
- “Isn’t FYE there to just help me with my first year and talk about the First Year Reading Experience?”– YES! But, we are also here for so much more! Need help with creating a schedule, we can help! Want to know who to contact about a housing situation, we got you! Need to talk about how you’re feeling and how to get all your work done, set up a meeting to get coffee! We are also here to talk about the First Year Reading Experience, which is why tampons was a perfect free sample from our office! As many of you know, in the FYRE book Spare Parts Lorenzo used an everyday object (a tampon) as a resourceful way to help solve a problem! This was a great way to connect a helpful resource with a book that our office loves! How smart are we?!
We thank everyone who took the free sample of tampons while we were tabling last week! We hope that you can use them in your everyday life! And for those who did not, please begin to reflect about why you responded in a negative way to these free samples, think about the role of society has on shaping your views and accept that tampons are not a sign of weakness. They can be used in many different ways, just take some notes from Lorenzo!