The University of Florida (UF) student senate allowed itself to be bullied into providing free menstrual products this week, after a small group of students hosted a “bleed-in,” staining their pants with fake blood.
“Are you frustrated about not having free menstrual products? Well this is the protest for you,” the “Are You Seeing Red” event page declared. “This is a bleeeed-in. We’ll be wearing washable red dye on our bums, as if we didn’t have a pad and the blood bled through. Then walk the day with it, to demonstrate how much we care for it.”
No joke — this actually happened, and according to Facebook, 36 people went. Student Jenny Boylan (who goes by “Benny Joylan” on Facebook) posted a photo.
The student group “Gators Matter, Period.” launched a petition demanding that UF provide free tampons, pads, and panty liners. More than 4,000 students signed the petition.
“Because there are no free tampons or pads at the University of Florida, students are often forced to go home early or skip class completely when their cycle starts unexpectedly. An impoverished student faces the choice between getting a meal and being comfortable, and that shouldn’t happen on our campus,” the petition argued. “We want the University of Florida to provide its students with the necessary menstrual care items, just like it provides ponchos, condoms and hammocks for its students.”
In an interesting twist, the petition did not mention women in its demand for feminine products. Instead, students noted that “menstruating people have their period from three to seven days and menstruate from age 13 until age 51″ (emphasis added).
On January 15, a student government committee rejected a proposal to provide menstrual products through the mandatory Activity and Service Fee. Every student pays into the fee, so the student government rejected “funding that would only benefit the female half of the UF student body.”
“Gaters Matter, Period.” responded with the “bleeeed-in.”
“This is a part of reproductive justice,” Shannon Matthew, who was among the first students to join the protest, told the UF student paper, The Independent Florida Alligator. “I’m not ashamed of my period, and I don’t think anyone should be.”
The protest worked like a charm. On Tuesday evening, Ian Green, president of the student senate, announced that free menstrual products will be available in the GatorWell office in the student union beginning February, The Independent Florida Alligator reported. Green said Smith Meyers, president of the student body, worked out the funding details.
Members of the student senate noted that free menstrual products were already available at Field and Fork Pantry, as part of a donation drive that began last year. Students are allowed to take up to three bags of menstrual products each week, and each bag contains eight tampons, five liners, and five pads. The student activists responded that this option is too limited.
Student senators estimated that the project would cost just under $5,000, and suggested that the program could be expanded to include 60 gender-neutral restrooms.
Some reinforced the weird transgender argument that some “men” can have periods.
“Heteronormativity is rampant on this campus,” Sophia Ahmed, one of the “Are You Seeing Red” organizers, told Campus Reform. “Today I held a little protest for free menstrual protects. If you saw my butt that was evidence. And I say menstrual not feminine because menstruation should not be gendered. Some men get periods.”
Some campuses across the country — notably Brown University — have begun providing tampons in men’s restrooms, with the assumption that biological women who identify as men will need them. One company has already started mass producing special tampons just for “men.”
The UF student body should be ashamed of its leadership — caving to pressure immediately when there already was a free program for menstrual products.