[CN: Domestic violence mention, sexism]
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own” – Audre Lorde
Every day, there are womyn and trans men (lots of them escaping domestic violence), sleeping on the streets or in short-term emergency accommodation. For the past few months, I’ve been volunteering with Brisbane Period Project (BPP). BPP makes 5-day packs filled with pads, tampons, hand-sanitizers and other sanitary items to last an entire period. These packs are distributed to organisations in touch with the women and transmen experiencing homelessness. They shouldn’t have to choose between being hungry or bleeding out.
During this time, I’ve felt upset, challenged, and angry at how a lot womyn still don’t have access to basic needs. I thought about things I’d never before considered. For instance, I never wondered about how homeless womyn dealt with their period. I didn’t think about how homelessness is more than houselessness. I didn’t think about the many complex issues that cause homelessness, and the consequential issues. We dehumanise homeless people so much that we forget even going to the toilet can be a huge inconvenience or danger.
Menstrual hygiene technology hasn’t developed much in the past century – our needs are forced into the background as making life easier and more sustainable for us isn’t profitable. I’ve been looking into menstrual cups and I’ve tried some reusable menstrual hygiene products and I thought I was privileged to be able to even try these things. But I realised it’s not privilege – it’s a right, a basic need which many womyn are still deprived of. Though I am living quite comfortably, I can’t let this result in complacency. It’s an opportunity to lend a hand. It’s not fair that our uteruses have rendered me and my sisters second-class.
“Sometimes sisterhood is quiet and more in between the lines: when you belong to a marginalised group, you automatically even if subconsciously align and position yourself with that group, and depend on it. Therefore, I cannot separate girl friendship from Survival against oppression and patriarchy. It is a force so unequivocally Powerful that it has survived an immeasurable amount of oppression throughout history and is continuously reclaimed.” – Rowan Blanchard.
In the first two weeks of collection I promised to match every donation (within my means). I ended up living off a few dollars for the last few days, and although this was hard, it wasn’t long-term, and I had the security of my next payslip. Every day I carried bags of pads/ tampons home and it made me so happy and grateful. Thank you so much to all my chums, friends of friends and strangers who donated. We now have 1460 pads, 1432 tampons and 9 bags of treats ready for packing day. To put these into a more meaningful number, more than 190 womyn will be able to deal with their period this month with a few less worries. 190 individuals!!! This is so great and worth celebrating hehe, but let’s also remember that they’ll need more next month. So whenever you have some spare change or are doing your shopping, throw in an extra pack of pads/ tampons.
*Edit – How to get involved
You can contact Brisbane Period Project through Facebook message. They will give you details about your closest drop-off location in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast. There is also Melbourne Period Project, Sydney Period Project, Geelong Period Project, Murray Region Period Project, and Gippsland Period Project. Even if you can’t help through donations, share the pages and their posts!