Don’t look away now

 

Sir, – Eighty-four people in this country had best look away now, lest they find this letter offensively provocative.

Thursday’s decision by the ASAI to ban the Tampax ad (following 84 complaints) is an archaic move, one that serves to compound the idea that menstruation and women/transmen’s health is something that should be shamed, shushed and discussed only behind closed doors (“Complaints over ‘offensive’ Tampax tampon advert upheld”, irishtimes.com, July 30th).

Working as a junior obstetrician and gynaecologist, I have encountered an astounding lack of knowledge and comfort in discussing menstruation and female anatomy from both colleagues and patients alike.

I have also seen how this discomfort can act as a barrier to accessing timely and appropriate health services.

We need public advertisements that normalise the topic. Periods are not shameful. Periods are not sexual. Sometimes we don’t insert our tampons correctly. I do apologise for my grotesque language. – Yours, etc,

Dr SADHBH LEE,

Dublin 2.

A chara, – The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland has made the extraordinary decision to pull a TV ad offering guidance on how to use tampons, on the basis that it “caused widespread offence”.

The decision was made on foot of 84 complaints from people who found it offensive and “grotesque” that periods should be talked about on TV. The language used in the complaints (“crude”, “vulgar”, “disgusting”, “embarrassing”) starkly demonstrates the stigma that still surrounds periods in Ireland. In particular, the complaint of two teenage girls being “mortified” when the ad played while their male family members were present shows just how necessary and important it is that we normalise conversations about periods in our society.

Periods can be painful and difficult for many of us, and it’s time we ended the stigma around talking about them. Sharing our experiences is an important part of this, and this decision of the authority is harmful because it bows to that minority who view periods as shameful and something not to be spoken about out loud or in front of men. Are the 84 complainants entitled to set the moral compass for this country? Did the authority seek to ascertain how many women and girls viewed the ad positively, how many discussions about periods it might have initiated?

We have had enough experience of shame around women’s bodies in Ireland. It’s 2020 and we can do better. The authority should review its decision promptly. – Yours, etc,

SEÁNA GLENNON,

Milltown, Dublin 6.