Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Panty shields up, Captain! We’re rebooting the Ovarian Operating System . . .

I know that just the title alone might make you want to just skip this particular posting, but you should just wait a sec, you might learn something or at the very least change your mind about some things.  I know my mother is probably thinking to herself, "Oh, Kimberly what are you writing now?" with a big sigh.  But even she can't help herself and is still reading as of right now.  Right, Mom?

So back to the subject at hand.  A few things I want to mention.  Periods.  They suck.  Yes, we all know that.  But I am wondering what happened to the glory and fame that women used to get when they had them?  Some might not know there history about it, or even ever wanted to know, so I will tell you anyway.  In some cultures way back when, and maybe in some even now, but probably somewhere in the wilds of Cuckoozumfukaway, when a woman is menstruating, she is revered. She is worshiped as the "mothership" of mankind so to speak.  In some Native (American) cultures a special place was built just for them to live in because they were so "holey" and "sacred" at that time.  They were so awesome that no one else was allowed to even look at them. They built huts and red tents and spas for this exact purpose. To wear pampers or to be pampered. Whatever.

But no, now in this day, we are supposed to outwardly celebrate our periods.  We are no longer worshiped, but are brainwashed into thinking that we should just make the best of a bad thing.  It's a "have a happy period" campaign. A campaign from a company that stupidly chose their brand name to be “Always.” As in, “I’ll ALWAYS bleed, and I’ll ALWAYS wear these things.” At least Kotex, Tampax, and Playtex (all with –ex as a suffix to mean “out, from or away”) sound almost medical or medicinal. And it’s not ALL feminine hygiene, even wounded soldiers are prone to use a tampon (French for “plug” or “stopper”) to halt bullet wounds from weeping. “Always” doesn’t seem to imply medical or even chronic, instead, it implies a life sentence. Doesn’t your uterus protest? Well it should. War is hell and there’s a war in your drawers and the sick folks at Always were also responsible for aerodynamic panty-liners and pads. That’s right – they got your code red covered in homeland security and you can feel secure each month knowing there’s a little, white F-16 in your pants.

But I began to think.  There are people out there that try to get people to put the cloth diapers on their kids to save the environment, but what about the panty protection industry?  Why aren't we trying harder to protect the Earth from the Big Red Flow?

Your average lady uses 16,800 tampons in her lifetime, that’s 250 to 300 pounds of tampons and applicators. Tag on a few thousand pads and panty liners, and your ecological footprint is looking more like Sasquatch. Of particular offense are the plastic applicators some tampons are encased in. They are casually tossed into wastebaskets where they later escape the curb trash or landfill, trotted off by animals, resurfacing in parking lots and playgrounds and a host of other locations you’d rather not see them appear.

So, a little research . . .

O.B. tampons: small box, no applicator. Compact, simple cellophane wrapper covering them, easy to use, and take up very little room in your purse. It is unfathomable, but some women simply aren’t down with getting that up close and personal with their own lady bits. Come on darlings – this is no time to be prim and squeamish. If you haven’t seen it in a mirror to understand how it goes together and pushed the buttons to see how it works, you don’t deserve to have sex and should just hang an “Out Of Order” sign over your girdle loop. Get over it. Get into it. It’s yours. Deal.

OG-style Tampax: wrapped in paper, cardboard applicator that breaks down relatively quickly if they happen to get loose in the environment. Preferable to the Pearl brand, which has an indestructible plastic applicator strong enough for shotgun shell casings and is then further wrapped in coated paper. Awesome. Go ahead. Try running them over with your car. You can’t destroy them. They’ll only get dirty . . . and more angry. That plastic rocket launcher is just one more wasteful obstacle between you and your nana. I don’t even want to go into the perfumed varieties. Now on top of your plastic fetish, you’re going to open a vapor-impermeable pouch and stick this vulcanized, alcohol soaked albino vampire into your hoo-ha where no one and nothing but your senseless cervix can smell it? Well it doesn’t work and now you smell of lightly talcum-ed meat. Fail. p.s. Talc is closely related to the potent carcinogen asbestos and talc particles have been shown to cause tumors in the ovaries and lungs of cancer victims. So hey – go easy on sprinkling the Johnson’s about your leaky basement. It’s a safety hazard. You’ll slip and fall. No need to announce “clean-up on aisle one.”

Natracare and Seventh Generation: chemical-free, non chlorine-bleached, simple packaging which means even less waste. Eco-conscious enough with all the key ingredient and disclaimers including no animal-testing and skin-tested only on fellow humans. You can sleep well in the knowledge that no bunnies had to hop about with a maxi pad strapped to their fluffy bums and instead, some nice lady in a lab got itchy a few times. This is still within the normal scope of your monthly cycle.

: natural tampons inspired by the traditional use of sponges by menstruating women of ancient times. So if you want to bleed like Cleopatra, this is your bag. The Egyptians invented the tampon too – so you can thank them for that little wonder. Sea sponges are available in Teenie, Regular, and Large and you precision(?) fit to size by trimming the sea sponge and experimenting with insertion. Wow. Try not to think about doing dishes or wiping counters or a nice hot sponge bath because really, I can’t see how this is either sanitary OR relaxing. So Sally, if you’re worried about sullying up the seashore, (welcome to my new menstrual tongue twister) this is all the rage amongst mythological aquatic creatures. Apparently, sea sponges are what mermaids use.

Menstrual Cups – i.e.: Diva cup, Mooncup, Instead Softcup, Lunette, Keepercup, LadyCup, Femmecup, Miacup: Ok. Here’s where I drawn the line. This ain’t a Dixie Cup, or a Sippie Cup, a Tommee Tippee Cup or an Ice Cream Cup. This is none of those fun, sweet, childlike associations. But I trust you probably got over that the first time you sprung a leak and wrecked your favorite Underroos or your expensive lingerie for failing to count the days. Maybe I just haven’t been brave enough to go with a new, miserable experience, but let me get this straight . . . I fold a plastic, rubbery cup into a jelly roll, insert this, it pops open like a tulip, I “stir” it around to make sure the umbrella’s been fully deployed, which may take some coaxing and pushing and twisting, and then I pull it out by its dangling tail at intervals, wash it and reinsert it like tiny, portable Tupper Ware?!?!

Oh, hell no!

I am not about to wash my "snatch basket" in the sink (and carry special, mild, perfume-free, hypo-allergenic fem soap) in between classes or you know, when I take a restroom break to freshen up while out to dinner. I mean, how does one do this discreetly? Oh, and once a month, I get the distinct displeasure of a 5-minute boil for my little traveling jellyfish at the end of the cycle in some dedicated kitchen equipment that never sees food. Or, hey, I can use rubbing alcohol (and not hydrogen peroxide) to sterilize it. But I have to be extremely careful not to soak it too long and allow it to dry completely and not degrade the integrity of the plastic and rinse the residue so I don’t fuck up my vaginal pH.

O.B. tampons sounding better all the time, huh? Can you imagine wringing out your sea sponge? Wouldn’t you rather “touch it” now?

So, there I was on a Tuesday night, standing there in the supermarket isle, paralyzed by too many choices and horrible, far-reaching consequences of those attempts at informed decision. There I was: hungry, cranky, wanting ice cream and a heating pad at the same time, thinking about plumbing, and ocean waters and marine life and cancer of the Yoni.

I turn to the woman next to me who is clicking and sucking at her teeth in audible consternation, just like me, and we both smile nervously, amazed at the mini internal crisis over what we’re going to buy. Neither of us will move first, both seem to be wondering how the other will select, looking for a brave trend to follow. Somehow, there’s a preposterous sense of worry over being  judged, like bringing a film or a music CD or a book to the checkout clerk, the fear of choosing poorly, unwisely, without taste or sensibilities. “Hmmm,” the other lady in the isle says. “Yeahhhhh,” I mutter slowly and drawn out. And we both start giggling.

My cup of joy is overflowing

I consider my internal flowchart for assessing absorbency needs:
junioraww, isn’t that cute, you inked!
light – Miss Kitty has a nose bleed.
regular – oh, ya. my period’s back.
superomg that’s a lot of blood.
super plus – Jesus, maybe you should go to the hospital!
ultra – ugh, I think that blood clot just asked for a cigarette.

I am looking for regular. Just something in between, just a few tampons, a starter pack, a holdover since I don’t see any of my normal go-tos. And all they have is “a mere scratch” or “Carrie – Prom Scene” size.

So I think of the dolphins and the salmon and the seabirds and I grab the 10-pack with the small, recyclable cardboard box and no applicator with the green looking package and Eco-claims to fame and the woman next to me does the same. Just enough to soldier on.

It’s all I can do, really. If I don’t want to leave with anymore acronyms. Say, add PTSD to my PMS. Christ Almighty in a hybrid – I can’t even BLEED with out feeling guilty about it in my new sustainable world concept! I leave with my chlorine-free, biodegradable, non-applicator, no plastic, rayon-free tampons and my razors (which are free from animal testing) and a pint of, yes, sorry, blood orange sorbet, and it’s a good thing. While I’m happily eating my cool treat, I don’t need to imagine poor, naked bunnies hopping around with razor burn and nicks with only a maxi-pad to keep them warm. And after all this guilt, I just want to sandwich a washcloth and tuck it in my drawers or just sit on a sock and call it good.  The things a girl does to stay "green" and save the planet.  Jeesh.


  1. Anonymous9:47 AM

    You are one AWESOME bleeding bitch. Looking and trying to decide what to buy reminds me of when I was sent to buy you pads after D's birth. I had to ask someone which one to get! Last time I went down that aisle you only had two choices.

  2. I use the Diva cup. FYI (more like TMI). It's awesome once you get used to it.