When Girl Power Goes Left: Moms, There’s No Need To Show Children Your Used Tampons
This afternoon an article, Why I Change My Tampon In Front Of My Children, was sent to me. When I read the title, I scoffed and sang the chorus of Nicholas Fraser’s Why You Always Lyin’ parody song. As I hummed, “MmmmOhhMyGod” under my breath, I read about Kate Spencer, a woman who believes it is imperative to show her two toddler daughters her used tampons.
Spencer noted over the course of her womanhood, she felt ashamed about her menstruation cycle and vagina, shaking her finger at how society teaches women to be discreet about their bodies during that time of the month. She wrote, “I’ve spent the past 25 years going out of my way to completely hide my menstruation. I double up on tampons and pads when I’m going out, just in case. I wear black when my flow is heaviest; I obsessively check for tampon strings flapping in the wind every time I’m at the beach. Menstruation is something most women will experience for decades, and yet we’re instructed to keep it under wraps as if it doesn’t happen at all. The tampon aisle at Walgreen’s being named ‘Feminine Care’ tells you everything you need to know about your period. It’s the Voldemort of the human body: the thing that must not be named.” By changing and showing her daughters the blood-soaked tampons, Spencer believes she is breaking the cycle of shame. She also thinks her daughters will feel more comfortable with their bodies, especially their private parts.
“I marveled at — and envied — men who talked freely of jerking off, who dictated exactly how they wanted their orgasms to arrive. Somehow, they’d been given the societal pass to be cool with their penises and all they could do,” Spencer said of the envy she used to feel for men and their sexual freedom. “I was an adult who still treated her vagina like a dirty secret.”
After assessing Spencer’s decision to show her children her used tampons, I decided her reasoning seemed much more personal than political. To seemingly rectify her own insecurities, Spencer said she allows her daughters to not cross their legs and to fondle themselves in public. Her daughters can also shout the word “vagina” in public. Now, I agree, children should know the proper names for all of their body parts. However, I do not believe it is necessary for any child to be able to touch themselves nor shout the words, “vagina” or “penis” in public. Sure, when I have children they will be allowed to use those words in conversations but it’s hardly necessary for them to make a scene about their genitals.
This type of behavior, to me, reads as a cry for attention. Instead of teaching her daughters how to converse about their sexuality, body parts and how patriarchy shapes the language we use to define bodies, Spencer is teaching her children there needn’t be boundaries between themselves and others and that’s dangerous. Furthermore, Spencer and other women should stop buying into the idea that males don’t struggle with their sexuality or body parts. Many men have come forward to speak about penis envy or how they feel pressured to perform sex with no malfunctions. It is a fact that some women are shamed in religious texts and through cultural norms for their menstrual cycle, unfairly marking them as dirty. But in her piece, Spencer is confusing humiliation with privacy and good hygiene. You should change your feminine hygiene products regularly and clean yourself to feel refreshed and eliminate odor. It’s not for other people. And we do these things privately because of a general notion called decency, the same principle that prohibits pooping or peeing in the middle of the street simply because it’s “natural.”
While I admire Spencer taking the initiative to teach her daughters about their bodies at young ages, she also needs to focus on them respecting others and their personal space when taking care of their vaginas.
Do you think it’s necessary for women to teach their daughters about their bodies by showing them used tampons?