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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.

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.


A quick glance at the lineup for Variety's annual "A Night in the Writers' Room" event turned up something a little odd: It was almost entirely men.

The event, to be held in West Hollywood on June 14, features some really great, talented people working in TV right now. Writers from shows like "The Americans," "Black Lightning," "Atlanta," and "The Good Place" are all slated to appear, a veritable who's-who of TV talent. But of the 12 writers scheduled to appear, 11 of them are men.

Writer Wendy Molyneux ("Bob's Burgers") noticed this, tweeting, "I guess what you'll find in the writers' room is over 90% men!"


A number of the scheduled writers offered to give up their spots on the panel to make room for women, which really was a nice gesture.

"The Good Place" writer Michael Schur (who goes by "Ken Tremendous" on Twitter) tweeted that while he didn't know who else was scheduled to appear at the event, he thought it'd be appropriate to replace him with "any one of the dozens of women who should be part of any event like this." David Shore ("The Good Doctor") concurred, saying that he notified organizers he was "happy to be replaced."

Twitter user @WintryMixALot replied to Schur, writing, "Dude, I love you, but you seriously accept invites to be on panels without asking who else will be on them? If you care about representation please stop doing that." In a follow-up tweet, Schur committed to doing that moving forward.

To its credit, Variety responded to its, er, lack of variety when it came to organizing this event.

"On behalf of Variety, we apologize for the egregious oversight regarding the lack of female writers participating in our upcoming A Night in the Writers' Room event," was posted on Twitter, adding Variety is "working on rectifying" the mistake.

In 2017, Variety's "A Night in the Writers' Room" event featured 10 men and two women. The 2016 event featured 10 men and three women. Now, yes, it is entirely possible that Variety had planned to make a more concerted effort to be more gender-proportionate in 2018, but based on past years, this seems to have been more business as usual as opposed to an "egregious oversight" on their part.

Lost in a lot of the social media discussion was the fact that in addition to being overwhelmingly male, the event has a tendency to be overwhelmingly white.

The 2018 event features zero women of color. There was just one (Ava DuVernay) in 2017 and one in 2016 (Misha Green). For all the outcry over the lack of gender diversity, however, not a lot was said about race.

Matt Warburton, Rob McElhenney, Marc Maron, Bill Lawrence, Matthew Carnahan, and Variety chief television critic Brian Lowry participate in the 2014 event. Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Variety.

Director Sade Sellers rightly pointed this out on Twitter, indicating she'd love to put together another panel filled with women — including women of color.

Hopefully Variety takes this criticism into consideration as it scrambles to fix this. After all, part of what makes panel discussions so interesting is hearing from people with wildly different backgrounds having a conversation about their different upbringings, perspectives, and how that fits into their work. That kind of conversation can only happen with a diverse panel.

Now, you may be asking yourself why stuff like this even matters. After all, it's just a panel. There's more to it than that.

"When they can't even manage tokenism, then you know they really don't care," says Nell Scovell, a writer whose credits include "Late Night With David Letterman," "The Simpsons," and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch."

Scovell gets to the heart of the matter: These types of prestigious industry panels send a message to aspiring creatives and viewers about who their product is actually for. "These panels should reflect the audiences and women are just as interested in highly-paid, creative jobs as men. Maybe even more."

Nell Scovell (left) speaks with Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette during a 2016 event put on by Vanity Fair. Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Vanity Fair.

Molyneux touches on what kind of impression it makes when there's a lack of diversity in representation. If there's hope of keeping fresh talent interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, the industry needs to take a few small overtures in their direction. The problem has an easy solution: Don't be a jerk.

"'Don't be a d-bag' is the lesson of our time, right? Before you announce your panel, look at your roster and ask yourself: 'Am I about to be a d-bag?' says Molyneux. "I mean, if your panel is 91.67% male — and please have a man check my math — maybe get on the pink phone & ring up some girls. We all live in a big house together so we can sync our menses, so you’re bound to get SOMEONE. Under his eye," she finishes, jokingly.

David Letterman has no idea why there were so few women writers on his late-night talk show.

At least, that's what the veteran host revealed on an episode of his Netflix interview show "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction." What Letterman seems to have taught his audience with this particular episode is how far things still have to go in terms of diversity and equality in the writers room.

In speaking with Tina Fey, Letterman (kind of) asked the celebrated writer/actress/comedian/producer about her thoughts on how Hollywood has treated women.


"I know this is a topic you don't like talking about, and it's a topic without an answer, but women in comedy," Letterman said. "And I know you've been very generous to women in correcting an oversight. Now, when I had a television show, people would always say to me ... 'Why didn't you, why don't you have women writers?' And the best I could come up with was, 'I don't know.'"

Letterman seemed to have raised a subject he clearly didn't really want to talk about.

If you're scratching your head about what Letterman's talking about, you're not alone. Because what happened seems to be Letterman trying to ask a question, answer it, and absolve himself of any guilt under the guise of ignorance.

As former "Late Night with David Letterman" writer Nell Scovell wrote, this kind of bluster "may have gotten a pass" in the time before #MeToo and #TimesUp. But owning up to "I don't know" isn't enough anymore.

"In addressing the issue with one of Hollywood's most successful comics, he could have admitted his failings. Instead, he attempted to dodge past criticisms. And while delivered with an air of complete logic, Letterman's argument is a master class in distortion," Scovell wrote.

Image via Netflix.

Tina Fey wasn't about to let the moment pass though.

While Letterman seemed ready to move on, Fey wasn't letting it go so easily. Especially when he suggested there was "no policy" against women writers, completely ignoring that, while there may have been no official "no women allowed" mandate, an overwhelming amount of evidence makes it clear how hard it has been to be a woman in comedy.

"I always thought, 'Well, geez, if I was a woman, I'm not sure I would want to write on my little nickel-and-dime dog-and-pony show anyway cause we're on at 12:30,' Letterman says by way of apology. (Although, what does the show's time has to do with it? Are women not allowed out past 10? This show didn't start in the '50s.)

Fey, however, was having none of it: "Yeah, we did want to write on it, though," she shot back.

Letterman truly missed an opportunity here.

Here's the thing: If you're going to raise a sensitive subject, you're going to have to grapple with all the uncomfortable feelings that come along with it. If Letterman had, this conversation could have been productive and even transformative. It would have been refreshing to have a powerful man in comedy own up to his mistakes and recognize that it wasn't just "the time" that was an issue (Scovell points out that even when Letterman moved to an earlier time slot, he still only had one woman on the writing team) and that discrimination is a real issue to which the answer isn't "I don't know."

If anything, Letterman's response is a master class of what not to do when discussing equality and diversity.

While Letterman ended this uncomfortable segment with a vague apology about his ignorance and a statement about things getting better, that's not going to change things. What's going to change things are in-depth conversations about this topic. And that doesn't start with apologies and absolution; it starts with listening and recognizing that change is not only necessary but beneficial.

More

2 stories by the same writer highlight how differently we view talented men and women.

We've really got to stop doubting women's talents — for the sake of us all.

When news broke that Cathy Yan was tapped to direct the upcoming "Suicide Squad" spin-off "Birds of Prey," a lot of people were pretty excited.

Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr. was first to report that Yan, whose only other feature-length credit was directing the small-budget darling of Sundance "Dead Pigs," would take the helm of the film fronted by Margot Robbie.

Yan will become the first Asian woman to direct a big-budget superhero movie and the third female director in the DC Extended Universe alongside Patty Jenkins ("Wonder Woman") and Ava DuVernay ("New Gods"). Given the less-than-pleasant reviews of director David Ayers' "Suicide Squad" (currently sitting at an abysmal 27% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), Yan's hire could be the key to saving the franchise.


Jen Yamato of the Los Angeles Times called the hire "a major milestone for women and directors of color in Hollywood, where studio directors remain largely white and male."

[rebelmouse-image 19346867 dam="1" original_size="750x509" caption="Yan attends the "Dead Pigs" premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images." expand=1]Yan attends the "Dead Pigs" premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, Fleming framed Yan's hire as a pretty big risk.

On its own, of course, that's not really a problem. Let's be real: Handing over the keys of a franchise to a relatively inexperienced director is taking a pretty big risk. Tens of millions of dollars ride on these types of decisions. Here's what Fleming had to say (emphasis added):

"This is a bold bet for Warner Bros’ Geoff Johns and Walter Hamada, who oversee DC under Toby Emmerich. Yan got the job over numerous well established male directors, and because she is taking this giant leap with just one small-budget indie movie under her belt. That would be 'Dead Pigs,' a film that won the World Cinema Dramatic Award For Ensemble Acting at Sundance last January. Despite being a new talent, Yan’s presentation for 'Birds of Prey' was exceptional, and Robbie held firm to her desire for this film to be directed by a woman."

[rebelmouse-image 19346868 dam="1" original_size="750x442" caption="Margot Robbie will reprise her role as Harley Quinn in the upcoming "Birds of Prey" film. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Samsung." expand=1]Margot Robbie will reprise her role as Harley Quinn in the upcoming "Birds of Prey" film. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Samsung.

If you compare how the same writer at the same outlet described decisions to hire similarly inexperienced white men, however, there's a clear contrast.

Following the publication of the Yan announcement, TV writer Nancy Kiu called attention to Fleming's 2013 post on Deadline about Colin Trevorrow taking on "Jurassic World."

Here's an excerpt from that piece (again, emphasis added):

"Trevorrow made his jump to features on 'Safety Not Guaranteed,' which FilmDistrict acquired and released and which grossed $4 million. He’s making a humungous step up in every way by joining a franchise which, in three films, has grossed nearly $2 billion worldwide, with Universal preparing a theatrical rerelease of the first film in 3D on April 5.

Why Trevorrow? He met with the studio and filmmakers, and they felt he was a good match for the material, having grown up a huge fan of the trilogy and part of a new generation of directors steeped in all things dinosaur. They felt he would preserve and protect the characters in the story they created."

In other words, Trevorrow was celebrated for his personal accomplishment while a lot of hedging and second-guessing was applied to Yan.

As a culture, we have a tendency to second-guess women and people of color.

And we do this in ways we wouldn't second-guess white men — even when it's not intentional.

To be clear, Fleming and Deadline certainly aren't the only offenders. When "Wonder Woman" was about to be released, The Hollywood Reporter drew the ire of many over an article and tweet that referred to the hire of Patty Jenkins as a "gamble."

In hindsight, the concern seems pretty silly as "Wonder Woman" took in more than $820 million worldwide and accumulating some major critical praise.

This goes way beyond just how we write about movies. In fact, its effects are felt in just about everything we do.

A shocking and saddening 2017 study found that girls as young as age 6 had come to believe that women can't be brilliant. The researchers concluded that gendered stereotypes played a big role in girls' self-doubt.

"These stereotypes discourage women's pursuit of many prestigious careers; that is, women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance," the study's authors wrote.

[rebelmouse-image 19346869 dam="1" original_size="750x523" caption="Yan introduces her film "Dead Pigs" at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images." expand=1]Yan introduces her film "Dead Pigs" at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

That effect happens at the larger cultural level, but luckily, there's something we can do about it — focus. Focusing on which words we choose, whether we're expressing doubt (and doing so fairly) and why we might describe one person's career move as a "leap forward" versus a "gamble. However that applies in our individual lives with our colleagues, parents, or friends, we can all be more conscious about the powerful words we use.

Upworthy has reached out to Deadline writer Mike Fleming Jr. and will update if a response is received.