Written by Cath Janes


Seeing red

Periods are a pain in the parts at the best of times, says Cath Janes, so imagine it being 10 times worse. Thank goodness for Bloody Good Period, then.

swirling red cloud
So, how was your last period? Let’s assume that it was like mine, involving enough sanitary towels to build a model village, ruining three pairs of trousers, producing clots like small dogs and having me scrub the sofa after a coughing fit.

Then imagine that during this period I was homeless or seeking asylum. Now THAT is what a period from hell looks like. So why in the staggerment of fuck are we allowing thousands of women to endure it every day?

Well Bloody Good Period, a campaign by social change creative Gabby Edlin, isn’t and here’s why I’m hollering at it to succeed.

I don’t know about you but until recently the thought of having a period while homeless hadn’t even crossed my mind. I’d offer women in need a pasty, a cuppa or cash but never a packet of Always Ultra.

It was only when I read an article about it that the horrifying reality hit me. Now when I see a homeless woman, instead of wondering whether she’s hungry or cold, I wonder how she manages when she bleeds.

Periods are already a fuck-ton of foof-based nightmarishness and that’s just when we’ve got ready access to absorbent cores and wings. What it must be like to wake up in a privacy-free hostel, with no money yet that feeling of stickiness in your knickers is beyond me. Some women are forced to gather up wads of toilet paper, even using it as tampons, while others rip up rags and hope the cloth to blood ratio is in their favour.

“Imagine what would happen if men started clotting from their penises every month? They’d be able to pick up free sanitary towels in the way most of us pick up a copy of Metro.”

The fact is that female asylum seekers and homeless women go through this every month. Worse, because they have no cash, they have to choose between food and sanitary towels even as they bleed. A wretchedly grumbling belly versus a wretchedly leaking cervix.

It’s no wonder that so many women resort to toilet paper. It’s that or shoplift, where women run the risk of not just a criminal record but the utter indignity of explaining to a gruff male security guard that their period has started in a foreign language (quick! What’s Kurdish for ‘clot’?).

And at the heart of this? Sexism. Men in need are routinely offered condoms, syringes and even razors in some areas of the UK. You are provided for if you want to shag, shoot up or shave. Yet if you have a perfectly normal bodily function and you’re a woman? You just have to stagger around with your worldly possessions held where no one can see the growing red stain on your arse and the growing black stain on your heart.

Imagine what would happen if men started clotting from their penises every month? They’d be able to pick up free sanitary towels in the way most of us pick up a copy of Metro.

Yet because everything is seen from the male perspective, no one thinks about what it must be like to flee your country with a functioning uterus. So for women who sleep rough, as well as the perpetual risk of infection, assault and rape, there’s the risk of ruining the in between-times with monthly gore.

More than that, is the camaraderie that comes with sanitary towels. When most of us whip out a sanitary towel or tampon in the company of other women we get to talking about periods. We get reassurance from each other and share gales of merriment.

Yet when you don’t even own sanitary towels, can’t share them with friends or can’t exchange a frustrated cluck in Boots you miss out. You become even more isolated than you already are and that can be cruel, especially when the toilet paper wad you relied upon has just burst its banks.

And that (yes, I have finally come to the point) is why I both love and hate Bloody Good Period. I love it because it’s handing women not just sanitary towels but their health, dignity and self-worth, it’s doing for other women what I dearly hope anyone would do for me and it’s talking about what so many people still refuse to acknowledge.

And hate? Yes, I hate it because it’s doing what we, as a society, should have thought about fucking decades ago.

So if you want to help, please go to the Bloody Good Period website. There are so many things you can do, from donating sanitary towels directly from Amazon to offering your time or expertise in anything from social media, design, writing or just shouting from the rooftops. Edlin, the woman behind this project, is waiting for you with open arms.

Oh, and if any part of this little write-up has horrified you, then imagine how much more horrifying it must be to experience it. The next time you find yourself peering into your pants to assess the damage, think of the last woman you saw who was fleeing her country or economic devastation.

She’d like to have a dignified period too and, if Bloody Good Period has anything to do with it, I reckon she’ll bloody well have one.



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Written by Cath Janes

Cath Janes is the brains and stabbed fingers behind Kraken Kreations, which sells shouty, hand-sewn home decor and accessories for modern women. She also sews feminist and anatomical embroidery, dances in her sewing shed and once had a snapped sewing machine needle embedded in her right tit.