The Importance of Inclusive Language In Menstrual Products
The language we use has a big impact on those around us, particularly when it comes to menstruation. For a long time, menstruation has been associated with women and girls. “Feminine hygiene products,” “Aunt Flow,” “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. A uterus does not equal a female identity, so it’s important to make those individuals feel they are included in the conversation on menstruation. With the implementation of inclusive language, we are slowly but surely normalizing and affirming the existence of individuals with uteruses who do not identify as women. With this becoming normalized, we are creating a world for future generations to have more freedom and comfortability with their gender identity, as well as encouraging others to be more accepting of them.
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 the advertising that dominates the menstrual product industry. The problem lies with the fact that this type of packaging is rather outdated.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 all 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 all 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 of periods.
Here are three ways you can help make periods more gender-inclusive: 1) Instead of ‘Feminine Hygiene Products’ try saying ‘Menstrual Supplies’ or ‘Period Care Supplies’ 2) Instead of ‘women & girls’ to refer to menstruators, try ‘people who have periods’
3) Try not to assume that every woman menstruates, and every man doesn’t.