Brown paper parcels

One day out of the blue the chemist shop stopped housing its pads and tampon supplies in neat layers row after row wrapped in brown paper.

Rather like the way these days they sell cigarettes in what they call plain packaging, they did the same with products essential to women once some brainwave landed on a way to manufacture materials that soak up our period blood and leave us more able to function in the world during that trickly time of the month. 

Something of those ancient attitudes and disgust towards female bodily stays with us, with me. The yuk factor, again not unlike the yuk we experience when we talk of shit and defecation.

I suspect our response to faecal function comes out of childhood and toilet training, a necessary part of life, otherwise we’d none of us be able to manage our shit and where we put it. Hygiene would be a major problem. 

We need to learn to distance ourselves from our own toxic waste otherwise it makes us sick.

But period blood is not toxic waste in the sane sense. It’s blood, dry and stale and like any blood if left out to dry and curdle it will start to smell unpleasant but it’s not inherently unpleasant unless we think it so.

A few of my husband’s wowser friends from many years ago when he was still a school boy were communicating about their distress at what they see as ‘cancel’ culture. The way they imagine the so-called minorities are controlling the public discourse these days. 

All this emerged from their concerns about the renaming of Australia Day to invasion day From their privileged position as older white males. But also from their sense of lack. They believe indigenous people who to their minds have been well cared for want more than their share. 

They have no idea of what we as a nation have done to our indigenous people and the extent to which no amount of money thrown at them will undo the damage.

The damage will only be undone through a united effort at changing the story from one of our entitlement to a recognition of what our ancestors did and how we have profited ever since.

The final insult – to my sensibilities at least – came in the form of a message from one male friend to another.

He quoted an interview between major General Cosgrove on an ABC radio program. I do not know how true this is or whether its another example of fake news, so I try to hold it lightly.

It follows:

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The comparison of rifle use to prostitution alarms me. 

It’s not exactly wrapping pads in brown paper bags, but it has the effect of silencing. And sure, the interviewer might have been out of line likening teaching kids to use rifles with teaching kids to become violent killers, though if you follow it through, why else would anyone use a rifle other than to kill, whether people or animals. Or to practice hitting inanimate targets. 

But to suggest that women are equipped with an innate skill to be prostitutes using that old fashioned word as well, not sex worker. That women are born with a capacity to sell their bodies for sex for the pleasure of another, as of it’s a given, alarms me to the pit of my gut.

This is what I call misogyny.

An insult hurtled towards a female because she has dared to challenge, albeit in a clumsy manner, the man’s use of guns. 

Why did we ever hide pads and tampons behind brown paper other than to imply there’s something secret shameful about them? They must be hidden. This means that their function also needs also to be hidden. The secret nature of women’s bodies need to be hidden.

And then if we call out the secret nature of any desire to use a gun, to kill or maim or assert oneself, even in the pleasure of being able to hit a target, needs to come out of its plain paper wrapping to expose it for what it is, a dangerous activity, especially in the wrong hands. 

The function of periods: they’re part of the procreation cycle and of fertility, life giving stuff in women.

The purpose of guns: to kill. To end life.