Artist and photographer Petra Collins caused quite the uproar this week when she designed a T-shirt for American Apparel with a simplistic line drawing depicting a masturbating, menstruating woman with pubic hair. Her drawing has been met with a variety of responses such as "vile" and "disgusting" and "eww wtf."
Are we still in fourth grade?
People’s reactions are reminiscent of my childhood,when boys would squeal if a girl touched them for fear of cooties. More so, their reactions are evidence that girls "should be" ashamed of what is natural to them.
Girls in high school — and now, as I'm in college — give their periods code-names like "Mr.Flow," "the little man" or "the issue," like we are James Bond and it is some agent of mass destruction that will destroy the world if it's named for what it is.
Not long ago, a friend of mine scolded her roommate for putting her pads in her desk drawer (because a guy could easily open it). Also, after I would get a pad from the nurse’s office, I would hide it in my bra as I walked to the bathroom. Even CNN correspondent Kelly Wallace (who is 46) admitted she still lowers her voice to a whisper when asking for "feminine products" at the drugstore. Petra Collins mentioned in an interview with Vice that "female news anchors tried to avoid saying the word 'vagina.'"
In tampon campaigns you never hear the word "blood," or "vagina." Rather, they capitalize on girls’ fears of having their periods visible to the world. Even pubic hair, which is another natural part of our body, is supposed to be shaved or hidden.
The message sent, even by most of our mothers, is that we should be ashamed of these periods.
There’s a general perception that guys don’t like or feel uncomfortable with vaginas (yes, I said it), pubic hair, and periods so when they're shown so brazenly people just erupt. I was in a discussion with a male friend the other day when my female friend pulled me all the way across the hallway to tell me she was on her period. When I asked her why the mystery, she answered she didn’t want him seeing her "in that light."
However, we can’t and we shouldn’t, especially not because guys have problems with it. We have vaginas. We have pubic hair. We have periods. We are women. Deal with it.