The Importance of Inclusive Language in Menstrual Equity

Periods are not only for women; inclusive language in menstrual supply packaging and discussions is important.

April 5, 2023
The Importance of Inclusive Language in Menstrual Equity

For a long time, menstruation has been associated with women and girls. “Feminine hygiene products,” “Aunt Flow,” and “becoming a woman,” are all terms we’ve heard before when it comes to periods. It is easy to understand why the language we use revolves around the female experience. However, gender identity is not a binary system, and not everyone who menstruates identifies as a woman.

Trans men and non-binary people also menstruate, despite it hardly being brought up. With the implementation of inclusive language, we are beginning to normalize and affirm the existence of menstruators who do not identify as female and to create a world where future generations can have more freedom and with their gender identity. A uterus does not equal a female identity, so it’s important to include everyone in conversations about periods.

Period products typically come in packaging that is meant to be appealing to the feminine eye. Pinks and purples, flowers, smiling women dancing in fields… we’ve all seen it. The problem lies with the fact that this type of packaging is rather outdated.

Not only because not all women and girls require soft flowery imagery in order to find a product appealing, but it also implies that only women are using these products.

There is also a large demographic of women who do not menstruate at all, and the implication of this type of packaging can make them feel as if they are being told that they are lacking a part of their femininity. The reason behind why one may not menstruate is varied and personal. PCOS, endometriosis, perimenopause, menopause, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances, and certain birth controls can cause a halt to the menstrual cycle. None of these are an individual’s fault, and because of this, they should never be made to feel left out of the conversation or “not a real woman.”

What we can do to reverse this type of messaging is open up to the idea that periods are not solely a women’s issue. Once we as a society accept that gender and sex are separate spectrums and accept that our biology does not have to correlate with our gender identities, we can start implementing inclusive language in period products, and the overall discussion about periods.

Here are three ways you can help make periods more gender-inclusive:

1) Instead of saying ‘Feminine Hygiene Products, say ‘Menstrual Supplies’ or ‘PeriodCare Supplies’

2) Instead of ‘women and girls’ to refer to menstruators, try ‘people who have periods’ or ‘menstruators’

3) Try not to assume that every woman menstruates, and every man doesn’t.

Original article written by: Mary Bourke on Sept 2, 2021

Edited by: Rebecca Gouthro on July 14, 2022

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