Friday, 20 March 2009

Actually, I AM having a happy period, thank you very much...

Well, I am. The Always campaign has been lambasted in a McSweeney's open letter blog post and the subsequent round of email fwds on the mom and third degree of separation friend circuit, but I actually am having a happy period.

By this I mean that my period is flowing nicely, no hiccups (I mean that figuratively, but now I'm beginning to wonder how a literal menstrual hiccup would manifest itself...), no leaks, the cramps provided a reliable rhythm throughout the day like a small and temperamental Volkswagon Beetle, and I was in a good mood.

I was teaching a drama class today, and a girl got 'that' panicked look on her face and asked to speak to me away from the other kids. She said, 'Miss, can I go to the toilet? I think I've just come on.' Without batting an eye, and particularly cheerfully (because I was actually having a happy period), I replied, 'Oh, yeah, no problem. I just came on today as well. Do you need a pad? And don't worry about saying it in private - we don't need to talk about periods like they're a dirty secret - because they're not.' She was really cool about it and when she walked back into the room she didn't do the 'slinking back from running to the toilet' walk - she held her head high.

So, yeah, despite major difficulties with the ebb and flow that many women often have, there are some people who generally don't suffer too much, and could be persuaded that periods are kinda fun, and even funny. So...the Always campaign agrees with me - on the surface. This didn't sit too well with me, so I looked at their website and tried to work out what they were getting at.

The e-cards (did they read Adventures in Menstruating #3?) give the game away - apparently, having a happy period means excusing away sexist, stereotypical behaviours (eating chocolate, shopping, and acting bitchy) in a spectacular body image/capitalist/alpha female triple whammy.

This is a campaign that initially appears to be pro-menstrual normalisation and celebration but could do a lot of harm either way you look at it:
  • Some women think it's cute and positive, and use the website and the e-cards and it's a barrel of monkeys. Many of these women then go on to buy the product they've developed an affinity for and get sucked further into the disposable pad market.
  • Other women become uproariously irritated, rail against the notion that periods are in any way a ray of sunshine, and back this up with a litany of all the things that are shit about periods. They boycott the pads but propogate the notion that women are victims who suffer from periods and unwittingly support other women to seek out the allegedly panacea-like pads.
So it seems the tagline itself is the only redeemable notion.


The problem with saying 'Have a Happy Period' is that when Always says it, it's about as sincere as when any other multi-national corporation says anything. Their next question may as well be, 'Do you want wings with that?'

We have plenty of nice days, but we, as a people, don't like to be told to have a nice day. Always could be promoting the notion that for some people, periods don't need to be a negative experience EVERY month, but instead they are taking ownership of the good times we have with our periods.

It's my birthday tomorrow, so I'm anticipating that the happy period times will continue.

The video ads are mesmerising though, and I quite like the graphic design version of the improv game of props going on with the pads as shoes and boats and things, but Red Dwarf did it first and best.

Still curious about the hiccups.


1 comment:

Riot Kitty said...

Hey, I'm glad SOMEONE is having a happy one ;)

I'm with you - it's the consumeristic (is that a word?) aspect of it that gets me. I'd prefer the geometric, neutral-colored boxes, too.