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If all men had periods, here's what the ads might look like.

Steven Tyler once wondered, 'If men bled, would tampons be free?' He was onto something.

menstrual cycle, ads, gender, sociology, campaign
Image created from photo via Pixabay.

A fictional ad depicting a man's feminine hygiene product.

Can you imagine how the world would act if it was mostly men and not women who got their periods once a month?

Yeah, imagine it. If every guy of reproductive age out there had a monthly visit from Aunt Flo (or Uncle Flo, as the case may be), how would it change the way we as a society think of menstruation?

The answer: probably a whole lot.


But most importantly, that weird, uncomfortable, and awkward feeling people get when someone mentions periods wouldn't even be a thing in the first place.

A campaign from WaterAid asked 2,000 people how they thought the world would differ if all men had periods. The answers are telling.

One-third of respondents said they believed guys would openly brag about their periods and congratulate each other over them.

Can you imagine?

How many Likes would that get for hypothetical A.C. Slater? Maybe many.

8 out of 10 respondents thought if men had periods, there would be fewer myths and taboos about them.

It's interesting to think how the stigma would practically be the opposite if most guys experienced a menstrual cycle once a month. Getting your period would turn into a proud and visible monthly moment. There would be nothing shameful about having a period, and in fact, having a period might even become the ultimate sign of "manliness."

Would tampons be taxed as luxury items like they are today? Probably not. Our majority-male lawmakers would understand just how necessary they are. Would men walk around hiding tampons, er, manpons, up their sleeves on their way to the bathroom? Probably not. A third of survey respondents believe tampons would be advertised as "boosting your performance" — sounds like something you wouldn't want to hide.

If men getting a monthly period was considered totally normal, talk of menstruation would be much more in the open, and resources like pads and tampons would be more easily accessed. As Aerosmith's Steven Tyler once said he often asked himself, "If men bled, would tampons be free?"

It all might seem far-fetched, but it brings up a much larger issue.

There are currently 1.25 billion women and girls who don't have access to a toilet during their periods.

The survey responses that include celebrating and bragging rights for men are really quite the opposite reality for women and girls in 2022. Many don't even have access to sanitary supplies, let alone a toilet.

From forcing girls to drop out of school to Donald Trump using a period reference to discredit a GOP presidential debate moderator, the stigma on periods is still all over the place. And it's doing the world no favors.

"One in three women around the world do not have access to a toilet during their periods and having to find a safe place after dark is both undignified and risky," says Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s chief executive officer, in a press release.

"Millions more suffer discrimination because of beliefs that they are 'contaminated' or 'impure'. Stigma about menstruation means women do not seek the help and information they need, while the lack of hygiene facilities in schools is a major reason for young girls dropping out of education when they reach puberty."

That's real, and that sucks.

Using the responses from the survey, WaterAid created short parody ads that envision how the world would would be different #IfMenHadPeriods.

"Every day 800 million women have their period, and yet most of us consider it an embarrassing and taboo subject," says Frost. "There are even elaborate euphemisms to avoid saying the word period. So we have had a bit of fun trying to imagine whether attitudes would be different if men had periods."

Watch WaterAid's parody ad for tampons being sold in a world where men have periods:

You can also watch WaterAid's take on a football match and a male conversation at work. They're great.


All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


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