Does Marketing Contribute to Taboos Around Menstruation?

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The following is a guest post by Rachel Rosenblum, a student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.

I’ve been in school for the past twenty-years, and depending on how you view the situation, seven of those years have been voluntary (undergraduate and law school combined). Therefore, one could make the true conclusion that I like learning, and I enjoy being encouraged to think differently about the world. My Feminist Legal Theory course with Professor Bridget Crawford has really pushed me to think about feminist-related issues as they relate to my every-day life.

This past Saturday, I went to Walgreens to buy tampons. While perusing the many oh-so-exciting options of tampons and menstrual pads, I realized something. Many of the boxes of tampons advertised “Quiet, Easy Reseal Wrapper”, “Discrete”, and “Quiet Touch Wrapper”. I immediately connected this advertisement with a conversation that my class had in Feminist Legal Theory, where the class discussed how society should encourage menstruation and periods to be spoken about more openly, instead of the quintessential thought that this is a “woman’s issue”, and it should be shielded from discussion by all people. I realized that big corporations are relying on stereotypes that menstruation should not be discussed in public to market and advertise their products. Finding a product that is “discrete” and includes a “quiet touch wrapper” enforces the notion that whatever the product is, it should be hidden from society’s view. This realization was immensely confusing to me, since I always (no pun intended) assumed that companies that create tampons and menstrual products would want to support a movement that encourages menstruation to be a societal issue rather than a woman’s issue.

Upon presenting this realization to Professor Crawford, she raised the question of whether companies such as Tampax and Always, are simply marketing to reflect society’s views, resulting in their products being purchased more often and revenue increasing. This presented quite the “chicken or the egg” phenomenon, and I’m interested to hear others’ perspectives.

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