Periods have the potential for all kinds of mishaps. What if you bleed through your jeans? Ruin your underwear? Accidentally let loose an expletive in a crowded room when your uterus decides to cramp particularly hard? In a perfect world, this would be enough to worry about, but apparently, being shamed for throwing panty liners in the trash should be added to the list of "things to watch out for when you're on your period." Didn’t you know you’re supposed to call in a hazmat team every time you dispose of your used menstrual products?
On Monday, college student Min_Farshaw took to the subreddit TwoXChromosomes to blow off steam after a dispute with her housemates. As she explained in the Reddit post, she — like any reasonable person who has been dealing with menstruation for years — rolls up and throws away her used pads and tampons in the bathroom trash. Given that the alternative is carrying blood-soaked scraps of fabric from the bathroom to some other, far less convenient trash can in another room, most people would probably agree that this is a practical course of action. (Please consider this your daily reminder that flushing tampons will block your drain, so don't do it.)
The student's housemates, however, aren't most people. I'll let r/Min_Farshaw describe the situation herself.
"I rent a room and have shared living space with 3 other college kids. Apparently one saw a used pantiliner [sic] (rolled up, of course) in the trash and complained to Mommy, and now my landlady is trying to tell me I'm disgusting. Seriously? Would they prefer I put the in the kitchen trash? Stuff them under my mattress?
This is a normal [f*cking] bodily process and I'm sick of getting shamed for it."
Yes, you read that right. Her landlord and housemates believe it's disgusting to throw away used panty liners in the bathroom, the place solely reserved for bodily functions way grosser than menstruation. Naturally, this begs the question of where pads and tampons are supposed to be thrown away instead. If they're worried about hygiene, the kitchen trash is definitely out. The same goes for bedrooms and common areas. Even if she carried the menstrual products out to the street trash can immediately, she would have to carry them through the house first. It's almost like the bathroom is the most logical place to throw away used tampons, isn't it?
Within a day of publishing her post, it was flooded with comments from women with similar stories. One woman wrote that she had been shamed by her women coworkers during a meeting. "In the notes they took they wrote that they discussed someone was putting used sanitary napkins in the bathroom trash and it was absolutely disgusting and that we are meant to take it out to the dumpster behind the building," the user explained.
Another user wrote about a woman who had worked in an office that entirely removed trash cans from the bathroom. When she asked what she was supposed to do with her menstrual products, she was told to throw them away in the main trash can... in the cafeteria.
You might think that most of the stories would be about clueless men telling women to dispose of their tampons elsewhere, but a substantial number of the comments involved women, despite the fact that they probably deal with menstruation themselves.
Even in 2017, women and men still talk around the subject as if it were something far more disgusting than it actually is. While periods may not be dinner table conversation, they are treated with a level of disdain that other bodily functions don't receive. To give you an idea of how deep the stigma goes, it was just last month that a commercial for period products actually showed a woman menstruating for the first time. Before that, we were left with decades of euphemestic blue liquid and smiling women doing yoga. Oy vey.
In answer to r/Min_Farshaw's original question — is it normal to throw away menstrual products in the bathroom? — the answer is yes, even though a small but vocal minority may say otherwise. Maybe if we talked more openly about menstruation, there wouldn't be so much confusion about the details.