Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Environmental question....

This is going to be a bit indelicate, topic-wise, but it has crossed my mind a few times. I am wondering if anyone will read this and have an opinion.

There's lots of talk and studies and discussion for new parents about whether to use cloth or disposable diapers and how they affect the environment. It seems most discussions point to the fact that cloth is better for the environment because they are reusable and not filling the landfills (not to mention Diaper Genies which individually wrap each diaper in plastic to "keep the smell out.").

So, I wonder, why isn't there more discussion on cloth or reusable feminine hygiene products? Mainstream media certainly has not picked up on this.

"Ewww, ick." I know. It's difficult for me to fathom. I think older women, the generation before me, may remember belts holding things in place. So, I wonder what's out there in washable products.

Lo and behold, there's a whole bunch of things. This site states that women will "throw away 10,000-15,000 disposable pads or tampons in her life." Interesting.

So I found this site with pretty pads. I wonder though, if you risk a mess with these things. There's other products, too, but I won't go into it here. Because even me, I have an indelicate limit. But you can see what they are out there. You can continue to search this topic on your own.

But, I am saying I am surprised that with the diaper debate, this one also does not come up in the same breath. It seems similar to me. And I wonder if the waste produced by women's disposables could add up to more than what came from a baby. So, ladies, why aren't we hearing anything about those products and their benefits for the environment? It has just always made me wonder.


Multiple Sarcasms said...

Check out the Miacup at Pretty nifty.

Pretentious Reactionary said...

Hey, WC. As a user of said cloth diapers, let me confirm that there are, indeed, lots of washable/reusable feminine hygiene products out there, and a lot of the hard core cloth diaper people I've known have used a variety of those as well. (I have even heard of women using the smallest size cloth prefold diapers as menstral pads when their kids have outgrown them. Now that's reducing and reusing!)

My favorite item in this category (although I've never been brave enough to try it myself) is a little thing called the Diva Cup. You might remember the disposable version from a few years ago, called Instead. It is basically a very little cup with a stem that you insert like a tampon to catch the blood. You then dump it, rinse it, and reinsert it. You use the same cup throughout your period, one month after another. They come in two sizes: pre and post childbirth. Honest to God, women love these things. They claim the cup is easy to use and more comfortable and more effective than tampons.

I think the reason it doesn't come up much is the usual one. Nobody is really all that comfortable talking about the basic functions of women's bodies, especially when it comes to excreeting anything. I can't think of anything more innocuous than breastfeeding, especially discreetly (meaning no breast can even be seen), but countless women can't bring themselves to do it in public and will not feed iheir child unless they are home alone to do it! A couple of years ago, women on The View sniped about how uncomfortable it made them when mothers nursed in their presence. A viewer later equated breastfeeding and public urination. And that's regarding FOOD BABIES EAT. Just because it happens to come out of a woman's body, it grosses people out.

Now go ahead and try to spark conversation about menstruation. I'll go out on a limb and call it a form of denial that is rooted in misogyny. It's cliche these days to say that we (men and women both) objectify women. But it's still true. Socially and individually, we are much more interested in and aroused by parts of women's bodies rather than actual, flesh and, yes, blood women. Not that menstral blood should be a real turn on for anybody. But I think it's taboo precisely because it is clear evidence that all those body parts we prefer to view compartmentally perform actual functions, and not ones that titilate or sexually satisfy anybody.

I suppose it could be said that this is not particularly directed at women, that we are not crazy about any form of human excretion, regardless of which sex is excreting it.


But you've never heard of washable menstral pads.

And everybody knows what a hanky is.

Wild Child said...

To follow your logic, we've also heard and discuss in detail the products that hold baby poop and pee, but not the washable options for women's monthly use.

I think I'd actually try something like those things. However, I live in mortal fear of having embarrassing tell-tale signs seep through my clothes. So if I try it to see if they do the trick, it will have to be a weekend when I'm not going anywhere. Just to be sure. (to our gentleman readers, I apologize for TMI)

On the other hand, we could take this to the level of women's studies and start to disect why the mentstral cycle, in other cultures as well, is taboo. In other cultures, it can even be to the extreme of isolation from the rest of the group. Why is something that is a natural part of a woman's cycle considered sooo off limits in Western and other cultures? How did that develop? I've only taken Western women's history, so I have never really had the chance to delve into that topic. I wonder, has anyone ever heard of a culture or society that had revered women during their menstrual time.

Multiple Sarcasms said...

Not that I don't hear what you are saying but I'm going to play devils advocate here because I'm not sure everything is that straight forward. Most people who haven't had children yet are actually completely grossed out by conversations about children's excrement. Many people find someone blowing their noise nauseating, in fact the whole of Japan does.

Before children I talked with my girl friends all the time about periods, I can list pretty much everyone I hung out with symptoms. We all cycled together in fact. It made for a bad week let me tell you. I know that since my menstrual cycle has been more regular it has decided to synchronize with my neighbor and possibly you too wild. And a good portion of book club was taken up in talking about menstruation.

I would say that this would maybe show more comfort with the topic than possibly sexual intercourse. I sure do not know when anyone had sex nor do I plan on telling anyone about my sexual habits.

Plenty of people find menstrual cycles sexually stimulating. Plenty of people have great sex at this time.

I am not sure that this topic reflects misogyny at all. After all I really don't want to know what available products are out there for male masturbation. Not because I hate men but really I just don't want to know.