In June of 2022, the United States experienced a tampon shortage due to supply chain issues, specifically sourcing plastic, cotton, and rayon (PBS). I did not personally experience the effects of the tampon shortage, but many major cities had completely empty shelves. Menstruating-people across the country lost access to period products. However, certain populations have been taking the “blame” for this shortage more than others.
Specific discourse surrounding the tampon shortage has completely shifted to blaming men who are transgender for needing menstraution products. Besides the foreseen negative takes on Twitter and other social media, certain politicians and politically affiliated organizations have taken this conversation on as a “cause.” Their goal seems to be supporting discourse that has proven to promote violence towards the trans community.
Campus Reform is an organization that promotes conservative ideals with a self-proclaimed mission to “push back” against progressive arguments. The site posted a video of a reporter going onto Georgetown University’s campus and asking questions regarding their personal opinions on tampons being put in men’s bathrooms at universities while being in a tampon shortage. Within the first minute of the video, the reporter uses inflammatory language and leading questions to evoke negative responses. One person who originally agreed that trans men should have access to period products was later led into stating that universities should not fund putting tampons in the men’s restrooms. This use of misinformation is dangerous to the public’s understanding of how universities treat funding for period products on campus.
Sites like these do extreme harm because it brings violence to men who are trans and nonbinary people who menstruate. This line of questioning directs unnecessary blame to an already marginalized group. Georgia Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene stated in her podcast “MTG Live” that there is a “war on women” because tampons are being put in the men’s bathrooms during a shortage (Business Insider). Inflammatory statements like this only cause divide when there should be mass connectivity over demanding better funding and source for period products.
Beloved Dylan Mulvaney, a Tik Tok creator who came to fame by taking her followers through her transition with a series called “Days of Being a Girl,” made a video addressing the hateful comments blaming her for the tampon shortage:
With nothing but good intentions, Dylan should not be the target of this negativity. The tampon shortage has become an argument for anti-trans discourse. If someone menstruates, they deserve access to period products, no matter their gender. In the Campus Reform video, the interviewer tries to upset the college students by asking them if they believe colleges should be funding resources to put tampons in the men’s bathrooms. Harmful discourse like this could result in universities shying away from positive actions like providing tampons. In the article about Greene, she is trying to claim there is a war on women. The real issue at hand is the government’s lack of prioritization of women’s health and menstruation, which leads to a lack in funding. This discourse is driving attention away from the problem at hand–which could be the intention.
This topic is a feminist issue because if you advocate for feminism, you have commitment to defend the rights of those who identify as women and those who menstruate. This issue requires the unity to fight for prioritized funding. It requires support from the student body to continue putting tampons in the men’s restrooms. Here at JMU, I hope that we can come together, feminist or not, to support all who need tampons and other period products.