CodeRed

Fearless, Period.

The Evolution of Period Products

By: Saumya Bajaj

It's hard to imagine life without pads or tampons(or your tracking app), but that is how women have had to live for the majority of human history, and sometimes still do. With or without these, women still have periods. So, let's take a look at the evolution of period products.

❖   Ancient History: Most women either used cloth, animal skin, or plants like papyrus or grass; however, most women were on their own to find ways to stop from leaking on everything. In fact, in Ancient Greece, it is well recorded that a woman threw a used sanitary cloth to get rid of a stalker.

❖   1888: Nurses in France realized that the bandages they used to patch up people were a lot better at absorbing blood than the cotton cloth generally used at that time to stop period blood from leaking onto women’s clothes, so they started using the wood pulp bandages. Soon after, commercial companies starting using that idea and some of the first commercial pads-known as Southhall pads-were available for sale in France. In the US, Lister’s Towels: Sanitary Towels for Ladies from Johnson & Johnson were released.

❖   1920s: By this time, many different sanitary pads were for sale, but women still felt uncomfortable buying them, so Johnson & Johnson changed the name of the Lister’s Towels to Nupak. Even then, they were still much too expensive for most women, but when women could buy them, they would place money in a box so they wouldn’t have to speak to a clerk who was almost certainly male. They would also have to use a sanitary belt, which you would use by tying your pad to the ends of the belt.

❖   1931: Dr. Earl-Haas invented and patented the first modern tampon, Tampax, later selling it to Gertrude Schulte Tenderich.

❖   1936: Judith Essar-Mittag created the o.b. tampon. It was a tampon without an applicator, making it more environmentally-friendly than a regular tampon. It was marketed as much more effective at guarding against leaks. She later sold her patent to Johnson & Johnson.

❖   1937: Leona Chalmers patented the first usable menstrual cup, though it was not very successful.

❖   1980s: This was around the time when the adhesive strip came to be in use for period “technology.” This quickly became women’s preferred menstrual product. Throughout the years, pads became thinner and more discreet.

❖   2002: The first reusable silicone menstrual cup was created and sold in the UK through Mooncup, eventually spreading to Europe, and then the United States.

Menstrual hygiene has come leaps and bounds since the 20th century,  but the reality is that many women still don’t have access to these products. Because of this, many girls and women can never finish school, making it virtually impossible for them to ever get out of poverty. We still have leaps and bounds to go, so let’s not celebrate just yet.

How to Deal With the Worst Part of Each Month: Period Pain

By: Saumya Bajaj

This is literally my body: “You. You have yet again not passed on your genes this month. You must now be punished with week-long bleeding, cramps, and soreness.” Now, there has to be some kind of loophole here, some kind of solution to the pain. And, guess what, there are multiple solutions; however, it is important to note that if your cramps are so unbearable that it hurts to move every time you get your period, you should see a doctor. You might just need to get prescription-strength painkillers, or it might be a serious condition such as endometriosis

    Now, here are some effective ways to lessen cramps, headaches, soreness, and just general pain:

  • Painkillers.Whether it be ibuprofen or aspirin, the most obvious solution is a painkiller. They’re quick, effective, and most people’s go-to.
  • Hot Water Bottle. This one is my go-to. It really helps, especially with cramps, the only downside being you have to be stationary while using it.
  • Heating Strips. These are essentially the solution to the stationary problem with a hot water bottle. You can use them while at school, work, the gym, or anywhere else you desire. They are inconspicuous and a great pain reliever.
  • Exercise. Multiple studies have shown that exercise is super helpful to relieve cramps and soreness. For example, this study from the Journal of Integrative Medicines.
  • Give Up Caffeine. You probably want to kill me, but, I mean, technically it is a drug, and you can be addicted to it. Maybe some herbal tea? Even citrus fruits help.
  •  A nice relaxing massage. Do I need to say anything else?
  • Happiness. The release of endorphins have been shown to help relieve pain. Find a way to make yourself happy. “Treat yo self.”

Code Red Q & A With Allison Felt

What inspired you to start the menstrual diaries?

Originally I was just curious to see what my blood would look like on paper. When I started creating these drawings I began to think about what I was really doing, and how it could tie into the ideas and concepts I wanted to convey. There’s so much stigma around menstruation, and it’s really such a normal thing. I wanted to put something out there that would help women feel like they could be more open and comfortable with themselves and their natural bodily processes.

When did you decide to create paintings using your own period blood?

I’ve been using a diva cup for a couple of years, and I’ve often thought about using the blood for an art project, but I was never sure how to start. I wanted to utilize the material and a few months ago I began to use my own blood as a sort of watercolor paint. At the time, I didn’t realize what the project was going to evolve into, but since then I’ve been making paintings every month and plan to complete a series over the course of this year.

Have you ever felt insecure about your periods? If so, how did you break away from that insecurity?

Yes, I have yet to meet a woman who hasn’t felt insecure about her period! In our society, periods are such a shameful secret; people aren’t supposed to know when someone’s on her period. Exhibiting this art – letting the world know each month that I’ve had a period and this is the physical, visceral result – is a good way for me to combat this societal shame and secrecy.

Why do you think women may feel insecure about their periods?

When you’re on your period, it’s always in the back of your mind. You can’t forget about it, it makes you anxious. In our culture, I think women tend to be seen as more neurotic, more plan-oriented, more organized or uptight, and the fact that we have to make sure we’re prepared to deal with period problems at any time could factor into that. You can’t be as spontaneous if you have to plan around the fact that you’re bleeding, especially when it’s something that has to be dealt with furtively.

Why do you think it's important to use art as a way to combat menstrual taboos?

Allison Lee Felt is a Melbourne based artist and photographer originally from San Francisco, California. She loves to experiment with different art forms and often focuses on naturally occurring patterns and the human body. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Studio Art with distinction from Whitman College, and has exhibited her work internationally. She is passionate about seeing the world, feminism and dark chocolate. 

Allison Lee Felt is a Melbourne based artist and photographer originally from San Francisco, California. She loves to experiment with different art forms and often focuses on naturally occurring patterns and the human body. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Studio Art with distinction from Whitman College, and has exhibited her work internationally. She is passionate about seeing the world, feminism and dark chocolate. 

Art has a way of communicating basic ideas that is both direct and visceral. Its power is in conveying a message that can be understood without explanation. With this project, I aim to spread messages about body positivity and individuality in a way that people will internalize. By using my blood as a medium, I hope to normalize menstruation and make way for a new perspective on periods, as a celebration rather than a secret. I would like to empower women, strengthen them and support their activism.

How do you take ownership of your health fearlessly and unapologetically?

Through acceptance and appreciation of the beautiful variety of human bodies. I truly value the wide array of shapes and sizes of bodies, and believe that we shouldn’t aspire to conform to a set of norms. Let’s be comfortable with body parts that are usually covered and natural processes that are usually hidden. Women’s bodies are frequently shrouded in secrecy, unless they’re shown in a sexual context. Women’s body parts are often presented in art as beautiful delicate flower petals, or sexually charged objects. It’s true that women’s bodies are beautiful, but they’re also strong, powerful, and real. The period is a completely natural and healthy process, something no woman should be ashamed of.

What does using your own period blood mean to you and what do you hope it will mean to others. What is your message?

By using my own blood I feel more connected to my art, since it literally came out of my body. I hope that this project will help others to see the beauty and normality of menstruation, and remind them to appreciate, cherish, and be comfortable with their own bodies exactly as they are. 

 

 

Now We’ve Got Bad Blood: The Taboo on Menstruation

By: Sarah Karkoura

The period taboo has permeated every outlet of our culture. From Stephen King’s Carrie to NPR questioning if women even need periods, menstruation, and subsequently womanhood, has been deemed a burden to society. In a world where we are taking initiative to propel gender equality, how can we expect women to feel equal when they are shunned for their womanhood?

When I had my first period, I did not see it as something shameful. In fact, I walked around my home with pride, announcing my transition into womanhood to everyone I saw, including my father. It wasn’t until I walked out of my sheltered home that I got the wakeup call. At school everyone was ashamed when their period arrived, as if it was D Day. Girls asked for tampons so secretively it was as if they were initiating a drug deal. This is a bodily process experienced by 50% of the population, so why is there so much stigma regarding something so common?

It’s time we each take our own step to end the menstruation taboo. The next time you get your period, celebrate instead of mourn. The next time you see someone ignorant about menstrual hygiene, introduce them to a world free of shame and full of knowledge. The next time you need to ask for a tampon or pad, don’t be hush. Don’t be quiet. Ask loud and proud.


 

5 Must Haves For Your Period in College

By: Sarah Karkoura

College: Parties, independence, and having to buy your own damn tampons. Without mom’s menstrual medicine stash, it can be hard to get through your period while on your own at college. Add these five items to your dorm shopping list to help your experience:

1)    Period Tracking App
Stop guesstimating when your period is going to start and keep track like an adult! Get a period tracking app like Period Diary. If you’re not comfortable with people seeing the app on your phone, hide it in a folder titled “Utilities” or “School,” essentially any name no one will want to go near.
2)    Heat Therapy Rice Bag
Lots of ladies like to use heat wraps to rid of menstrual cramps, but rice bags are the money savers every college girl needs. While Heath Therapy Rice Bags are often made for neck pain, you can totally use them for period cramps. Instead of having to buy a wrap for each night, you just have to buy one and heat it up in your dorm microwave right before you want to use it. Money saver and cramp reliever? Yes, please!
3)    Gym Membership
I know it sounds crazy. The only thing you want to do when it’s that time of the month is curl up on your bed and binge your favorite Netflix show, but working out relives period symptoms. This doesn’t just apply to working out during your period, but during the rest of the month as well. So next time you can’t find motivation to head to the gym, just remember how much cramps suck and you will find yourself sprinting to your school’s gym.
4)    Feminine Wipes
Don’t trust your school’s state funded one-ply toilet paper to get the job done! Keep feminine wipes on hand to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible with your hygiene down under.
5)    Chocolate
Don’t go out and buy the entire Godiva store after reading this must have! It’s key to buy dark chocolate to reduce cravings while benefitting your body. Instagram fitness star Kayla Itsines explains how dark chocolate is full of antioxidants (lowers your risk of disease) and magnesium (manages all those crazy mood swings).

What’s your go to period product?

 

 

Talking About The Tampon Tax

By: Sarah Karkoura

Breaking News: Those tampons and pads we get once a month aren’t a necessity!

That’s right ladies, for decades we have been clueless to what our lawmakers have known all along. Sales tax is only imposed on products viewed as a luxury or unnecessary. Lip balm and dandruff shampoo are often exempt from sales tax, but pads and tampons? Please! Hold that ovary waste in!

Huffington Post reports that women will spend $1,773 on tampons during their lifetime. Not only that, but we’ll cash out a total of $18,171 in total for tampons, pain medication, heating pads, and other period related products. With numbers reaching the thousands, you’d think legislators would realize it’s not a “luxury” to naturally bleed every 28 days.

This tax points to the major sexism issues still plaguing our society. As men do not want to educate themselves about menstrual hygiene or elect women to political office, women will continue to be trapped in a state of inferiority as we are shunned for biological normalcies. Demolishing the tampon tax is one of the first steps to showing women that their womanhood is a sign of strength, not a genetic weakness.

New York recently joined the group of the few states to eradicate the tampon tax. By eliminating the tampon tax, they have removed a sales tax of up to 9% from essential menstrual hygiene products. We can only hope and push our state legislators to follow this example. We can only hope that our grandchildren will read about the tampon tax in textbooks and not experience it themselves.

Breaking News: Those tampons and pads we get once a month aren’t a necessity!

That’s right ladies, for decades we have been clueless to what our lawmakers have known all along. Sales tax is only imposed on products viewed as a luxury or unnecessary. Lip balm and dandruff shampoo are often exempt from sales tax, but pads and tampons? Please! Hold that ovary waste in!

Huffington Post reports that women will spend $1,773 on tampons during their lifetime. Not only that, but we’ll cash out a total of $18,171 in total for tampons, pain medication, heating pads, and other period related products. With numbers reaching the thousands, you’d think legislators would realize it’s not a “luxury” to naturally bleed every 28 days.

This tax points to the major sexism issues still plaguing our society. As men do not want to educate themselves about menstrual hygiene or elect women to political office, women will continue to be trapped in a state of inferiority as we are shunned for biological normalcies. Demolishing the tampon tax is one of the first steps to showing women that their womanhood is a sign of strength, not a genetic weakness.

New York recently joined the group of the few states to eradicate the tampon tax. By eliminating the tampon tax, they have removed a sales tax of up to 9% from essential menstrual hygiene products. We can only hope and push our state legislators to follow this example. We can only hope that our grandchildren will read about the tampon tax in textbooks and not experience it themselves.

 

 

 

To The Men Who Said We Couldn't & Say Hillary Can't

By: Sarah Karkoura

 

To the debate judge who wrote all the male debaters’ names on the ballot and “girl” for me,

To the classmate who called me a bitch for trying to pursue a career rather than pursue a husband,

To the stranger who called me a whore for not accepting his catcall,

Heckler at a 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign rally.

Heckler at a 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign rally.

We women have tried repeatedly to get you to see our side. We encourage you to think of your mothers and daughters before acting. We show you scientific studies proving intellectual equality among the sexes. We even conform to your standards, putting aside our dresses for bland pantsuits and put the thought of children behind us for our careers.

But what you may fail to recognize behind your bigoted disillusions is that despite the obstacles you have placed before us, we have jumped over every hurdle. We marched ourselves proudly to the polls in 1920, and made it to the Supreme Court in 1981. We lead Fortune 500s and even the Fortune 50s. While you reach these positions with ease and candor, we put forth our blood, sweat, and tears to reach the pinnacles of success. We did this all, all while ironing your shirt.

Protestor at a 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign rally.

In 2016, we stand to make a monumental step for women. We stand to elect the first female president of the United States. Now this is not an endorsement for Hillary or any of her political views. Rather, this is a request for an unbiased analysis of Hillary’s demeanor and choices. Hate Hillary if you please, but for the right reasons. All I ask, men, is that the next time you criticize Hillary, stop to think: are you criticizing her political views or her extra X chromosome?

 

 

The Period Experiment Documentary

Through a series of short documentaries we plan to expose the truth on the issue of lack of menstrual hygiene education in society and find a solution to it. Roaming around the streets of Morocco we will interview men and women on their knowledge on the subject.
 

 

A Look Inside The Code Red Team At Work

“Code Red has broaden my perspective when it comes issues not only around the world, but issues that are taking place in our own backyard. It pinpoints women’s issues, especially ones people never thought of, ever. Code Red has taught me how to set goals, become a better leader, practice being more patient, and  how to make a difference in my community. Not to mention the fun team I get to work with.” - Yazmine (Code Red Team member)

Our Impact Testimonial

"Your donation of feminine care products is greatly appreciated and important to our efforts to offer lifesaving resources and life building tools to individuals and families who are living on the margin. Your generous gift of menstruation kits ensures every women who resides on our campus restores their sense of dignity and pride associated with personal appearance which is often diminished in an impoverished state." - One of Code Red partner shelters
 

Three Spoken Words on Menstruation

 

Five GIFs Explaining How We Feel About Taboos

The Issue of Menstrual Hygiene All Over the World


Books We Heart