Listen up, ladies!

So, I've decided to embrace irony and peddle a product on blog that claims to be against sell-you-shit news. Moreover, I've decided that, what the hey, I'm alright with turning a little pink when I'm sitting in class and some of y'all are critiquing this blog post. Don't try to stop me, because here I go, unabashedly making all of our lives slightly more awkward than they need to be. Modest madams need read no further. For you women of brave heart, for you dames dedicated to living green, come with me as I tell of a product that could change your life. Or at least the way you menstruate.

Now, I'm blogging on this product because I've actually never seen it advertised in a mainstream ad. Moreover, in all the time I've been watching news segments on how to make your life greener, this one's never come up. Here's the story.

Last year I was taking a women's studies course and somehow or other the prof brought up the topic of the menstrual cup. "What do you mean, MENSTRUAL CUP? Like, is that A JAR you MENSTRUATE into?!" was the general cry of horror. "Well, no. Not exactly. More like a rubber... tampon. Is that weird? That's not weird, is it?" the prof questioned us at large.

On a scale of one to weird, the general consensus was that it was slightly weirder than raising alpacas in your basement, but no weirder than, say, a three-headed chicken. The girls in the class were mostly shocked by how immodest one would have to be to insert one of these things, to empty it, to have the hudzpah to walk around with it up in there. The discussion changed tracks fairly quickly -- no one would own to using one, or even express an opinion beyond "ew, gross!" and I realized that, for some reason, we have this idea that the tampon and the pad are modest, acceptable, and lady-like, while the cup is not. I had to ask myself: why?

From a purely logical standpoint, the distinction doesn't make a lot of sense. Essentially, there's not a heck of a lot of difference between the tampon and the cup. To put it somewhat bluntly, they both go in the same place, collect the same thing, and, eventually, have to come out the same way. And yet we'll head to the store every month for one, but we won't even consider the use of the other.

If I had to guess, I'd say that this has an awful lot to do with marketing and commercials. Most of the major manufacturers such as Kotex, O.B., Playtex (who in the 1960s had a contract with NASA to manufacture space suits), and Tampax don't manufacture them. You might be thinking "well, if they don't manufacture them, there's probably a good reason for it!" And your right, there is: they don't generate much profit.

Let's do a little math. Every period, the average woman uses about 20 tampons. Let's say you're a fan of, oh, the Tampax Pearl Plastic Multipax: $9.59 CAD for 36 tampons. That's $9.59 x 8 packs a year x about 43 years. Congradulations, you've just made a lifetime investment of $3311 in the Tampax Pearl! And that's before tax.

On the other hand, you can order a menstrual cup, such The Diva Cup, currently the only menstrual cup that's approved for sale in Canada, for $35 USD. The things last for about 10 years, though recently Diva Cup has altered the "recommended lifespan" of the cup to 1 year. (The main motivation in the recent lifespan alteration was profit, you can read all about it here -- not that I'm necessarily hip to keeping it around into the double digits, but hey, make your own choices.) The point is, even if you follow their advice exactly, you're spending a minimum of $41 less annually.

But, aside from your wallet, let's not forget the implications for the environment. Every year in the US an average 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are disposed of. 19 BILLION pieces of garbage! These pads and tampons contain surfacants, adhesives, additives and dioxin, none of which are great for the environment. Think of all that waste. Comparatively, you could be disposing of a container no bigger than a pudding cup once every few years.

Of course, there's more to the relative dis-use of the cup than advertising. Sure, the menstrual cup doesn't get hyped much in the media, but it's not like the thing doesn't has a completely glam past either. Looking at the history of the cup I found the following images, which I share because they're both historical and hilarious.

Admittedly, you'd be hard-pressed to find a gal willing to subject herself to any of the contraptions pictured; most of them look more like pre-historic torture devices than anything else. But the cup has come a long way since Leona Chalmers patented the first one in 1937. The modern one is even sort of cute.

So here it is. The Pros:
The Cons:
The Diva Cup isn't for everyone, but it's a great money-saving green alternative to some of the more commonly used solutions. And it's not arcane or unfeminine. You can find a detailed FAQ on the Diva Cup's website and a fun history of the menstrual cup at In Windsor, the Diva Cup is available at Nutrition House, locations at Devonshire Mall and 7650 Tecumseh Rd East, as well as at Pure Nature, location at 25 Amy Croft Dr.

So, there you have it. A green alternative you probably haven't heard much about.
End awkwardness.


posted by Ashley Girty @ 5:09 PM,


At January 25, 2009 at 10:07 AM, Blogger NICOLE M said...

WOW fantastic post. I've seen these in the store and there is about 1/100 of shelf space for it compared to all of the other products. I've always been intrigued but wow never thought of it as such a green and efficient choice. No wonder companies aren't selling the cup. I would love to reference this idea and this post on the show I am doing this coming week on CJAM. The women's collective has a music show "Milk and Vodka" and also a spoken word show "Genesis". My friend and I are hosting Genesis (Wednesday 8:30pm on 91.5FM) and will happen to be covering the topic of and issues surrounding menstruation. Thanks for the clever insight into this under advertised method.

At January 25, 2009 at 12:24 PM, Blogger Ashley Girty said...

Thank you! I'll definitely try to catch Wednesday's episode. It's sort of weird to say, but I've always thought menstruation has had a super fascinating history and place in culture... KILLER topic for a show!

It really is baffling how little we see of this product in stores, so the more women talk about it with each other, the better, I'd say!

At January 25, 2009 at 4:51 PM, Blogger Konstantine said...

You should have warned the men too =|!

At January 25, 2009 at 7:50 PM, Blogger VanessaK said...

I've never even heard of them and I found your post so interesting. Why not have a Diva Cup ad? They flaunt viagra, his and her body oils, herpes medicine and Lovers Lane products up the freaking wazzu?? I hear all the bad things about tampons and their effect on your body and the sewage plant so I'm so glad there is an alternative. I just wish I'd have heard of it sooner. Really, really interesting.

At January 28, 2009 at 7:58 PM, Blogger WRC said...

once again this post generated alot of discussion - I referenced it alot in the show I did this evening on CJAM about menstruation. I made sure to provide the link on the Women's Radio Collective blog post about this episode of "Genesis". Thankyou for the fantastic research on the topic as it contributed to the program and helped us out alot!
-Nicole Markham


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