“What is a period?” is the question Jamie O’Leary, President of Princeton Students for Gender Equality (PSGE), posed to several male students on campus. Her responses, among many, included:
“It’s what Americans call a full stop at the end of a sentence.”
“Something happens in your body and I’m pretty sure blood comes out through your vagina.”
“I don’t even know how to describe it. Like I don’t want to use these words. I don’t want to say them out loud.”
“It’s basically when your eggs, like drain.”
O’Leary pieced together these short interviews (which included other questions like: How long does a period last? and What is PMS?) into a video to promote Princeton’s first Menstruation Celebration. PSGE and Princeton Students for Reproductive Justice (PSRJ) collaborated on the event, which they hosted in Frist last Friday, Nov. 18.
O’Leary first thought of planning a period themed event after talking to her male, pre-med friend who thought that someone who menstruates only changes their tampon once or twice per period.
“So I started interviewing some of my other guy friends and same thing—they really had no idea,” O’Leary said.
After speaking to a friend Occidental College, whose Planned Parenthood club on campus threw a Menstruation Celebration, O’Leary decided to adapt the idea for Princeton.
There were food, games, prizes and lots of menstruation education. Guests could enjoy chocolate-dipped pretzel stick tampons and vagina inspired cupcakes.
There was even a toss-the-tampon-in-the-vagina game (purchased on Etsy).
Fun aside, a major goal of the celebration was to teach students of both genders about menstruation. There were posters debunking period myths and tips to improving your period. A University Health Services was also there to answer any questions.
Students were able to sign a petition to urge the University to supply free pads and tampons in bathrooms across campus, an initiative that Brown recently passed a few months ago.
“[Periods] are unfairly treated as taboo in society, especially with the luxury tax on tampons and pads when they’re anything but a luxury for everyone who menstruates,” PSRJ President Jessica Quinter said.
O’Leary said that most students were excited to finally talk about menstruation in a more comfortable way.
“Some people are all for it, some people have said that it’s too much and too in your face, but I think that’s important,” O’Leary said. “The only way to break a taboo is to put it out there and that’s what this event [was] trying to do.”