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The Argus

The Argus

The Student News Site of Illinois Wesleyan University

The Argus

The Student News Site of Illinois Wesleyan University

The Argus

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Period party destigmatizes menstruation

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee sponsored a Period Party in the Vinyard Room at the Memorial Center on October 24. 

Attendees were greeted by a period-themed display of food and symbolic decorations; Tables were draped in red tablecloths and topped with rose petals, tampons and pads acted as center pieces free for taking, and an offering of thematic refreshments. From reproductively decorated cookies to red punch, the theming was focused on the menstrual cycle. 

After everyone was seated, the commissioners of the event, Chrishana Simon and Nathalie Romero, began their presentation. They discussed the outline of the menstrual cycle and common misconceptions with the menstrual cycle. For example, a period only lasts for five days while the menstrual cycle is approximately a month with four phases: the menses stage, follicular phase, ovulation phase, and the luteal phase. 

Physical effects of the menstrual cycle were explained as normal to validate what certain menstruators experience. Food cravings, cramps, bloating, gastrointestinal issues, and gender dysphoria were all cited as common symptoms.

On the topic of normalization, the discussion of gender and periods was a focal point. In the slideshow presentation, Simon emphasized that periods have no gender, and using gendered language to reference periods can be harmful to transgender men, gender fluid individuals, intersex people, along with others who don’t identify as women yet still experience the menstrual cycle. Even those who do identify as women can experience gender dysphoria from gendered language associated with periods.

“We wanted to make the language more inclusive of periods because periods do not equate to being a woman,” Simon said.

The presentation also focused on debunking myths associated with the cycle such as the false perception that people shouldn’t exercise on their periods and that period mood swings (PMS) are merely a mental barrier. In fact, PMS is a chemical result of rising and falling hormones. 

The last topic of discussion prompted the audience to chime in and voice their opinions. Period poverty, an issue to many menstruators, is defined as a lack of access to menstrual products, hygiene facilities, waste management, and education. 

“Menstruators, simply for having a body, cannot afford the proper materials required to clean their body and deal with their period sanitarily,” Romero said. “It is a serious issue that stems from the Pink Tax, the taxing of essential hygiene products that occurs in 21 states in the United States as of June 2023. Menstruators cannot even use aid to purchase proper period products due to the products being considered a “luxury” item.”

“People joke about it. Period poverty is a real issue and something that should be brought into the spotlight. There’s no question about it,” Romero said.

Romero said, “It was heavy on the interactive party, which was a very comfortable setting and made it successful.”

Simon said, “Today went well. I’m so glad that people came out. The fact that people showed their support and were engaged with the material; I really appreciate and enjoy that.”

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