When my teenage boyfriend first heard about my menstruation, he was curious. He asked me several questions: “I heard about this all-time in advertisements; what are the differences between day and night use, wings without wings, and leakage prevention?” “Is menstrual blood really blue? It’s all blue in the advertisement.”
When I heard these questions, my first reaction was to vigorously roll my eyes and laugh at his ignorance because what I have to experience every month is not only common sense but also a part of life. However, after turning his head and thinking about it, I realized that he wasn’t all to blame.
Most of his doubts came from advertisements for menstrual supplies. For a long time, menstruation has been considered “unspeakable”, and in advertisements, this has been implemented very well. For example, menstrual products are collectively referred to as “sanitary products”, and the word “menstruation” never appears directly in advertisements. Women in the advertisement never say things like “menstruation or period is coming”, and even rarely mention the menstrual period, but through “uncomfortable”, “that few days”, “It’s not convenient”… these words indicate the arrival of menstruation.
As for the presentation and description of menstrual products (currently only refers to sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups are still rare in China), most of us can only hear “all-round care”, “gentle care”, “comfort”, “super long night”. Other words such as “sleep peacefully” and women laughing “happily”. When menstruation is “not publicly spoken”, menstrual blood is naturally not allowed to appear in the advertisement. Therefore, when the blue liquid was poured on the pads in ads to test the absorption function, it also misled the vast majority of boys and girls in the motherland who have not yet had their menstruation.
The red color that falls on the sanitary pads is not the true color of menstrual blood for historical reasons. As early as the early 1980s, when TV advertising first became popular, TV stations in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries had regulations stating that no blood would appear. Our country is no exception. A set of regulations regulating sanitary pads advertising has been specially formulated: “Sanitary Pads Advertising Self-discipline Rules” (hereinafter referred to as “Rules”). The “Rules” clearly stipulate: It is forbidden to demonstrate the liquid absorbed by the sanitary pads, the color of which is red or a similar color.
The reason why almost all sanitary pads ads test the absorbency of the liquid is blue. Some people say that because the blue looks clean, it gives people a refreshing feeling of blue sky, and it also represents water and life…There is also a saying that blue has a unique sense of clinical feeling, which reminds people of sanitized products such as bleach and detergent, and emphasizes hygiene rather than “foulness.”
All in all, from the perspective of mainstream ideology, menstrual blood is filthy and unclean and does not represent water and life-like blue. Ironically, physiologically, it is the moment of menarche that represents a woman’s fertility. As a result, the women in the menstrual products commercial have round buttocks, long legs, thin waists, and white skin. On the days of menstruation, they still have to dance in joy with shorts and sexy dresses.
At the same time, just as in a patriarchal society, menstruating women are regarded as ominous and are forbidden to appear on important occasions such as ancestral halls and ancestor worship. Menstrual blood is not allowed to appear in TV commercials in its true colors. Since the awakening of female consciousness, more and more advertisements have begun to break down the stigma of menstruation and women’s denigration. Not long ago, a British menstrual hygiene brand launched a new campaign: use red liquid to show the water absorption properties of the product.
It may seem like a small change, but it is a challenge to this absurd tradition of sanitary pads advertising that has existed in the world for more than 40 years. Blood is common in film and television, but no one finds it uncomfortable. At worst, everyone will only discuss whether it will be too bloody and scary, not whether it is dirty or not. Why is menstrual blood associated with the “dirty” things? So people think that “dirty” is menstrual blood or vagina?
In reality, there is always a saying that menstruation is detoxification, and blood clots in menstrual blood are toxins, but anyone who has a basic knowledge of physiology knows that those blood clots are the endometrium. The so-called peculiar smell in menstrual blood is caused by air oxidation. If you use a menstrual cup, there will be no smell.
So, when you are eager to find various reasons to reject the appearance of menstrual blood, are you also affected by the prejudice that “menstrual blood is dirty and menstruation is taboo” in your subconscious mind?
As for the so-called “feminists are thinking too much and too sensitive”, what I want to say is that under the thousands of years of patriarchal ideology, gender inequality has penetrated all aspects of life. When it comes to gender inequality and gender oppression, we have to question and reflect on the concepts we have become accustomed to. What’s more, menstruation is something that half of the people in the world experience EVERY month. It is the truest feeling of women.
If you reflect on such an obvious stigma, and you are being told that you are “thinking too much”, then I can only reply: “You are thinking too little!”