The Crimson Wave
"Menstrual activism strives to resist menstrual shame, and expand knowledge and care options. Art of this kind provocatively challenges the viewer to assess their assumptions about menstrual taboos. It can upend what is taken for granted, and that’s powerful."
~ Chris Bobel, Author of New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation.
The Crimson Wave (TCW) started as an initiative to curate art work on Menstruation, as a form of engaging in Menstrual Activism to help widen discourse on breaking myths and taboos surrounding menstrual blood being dirty or impure, gender stereotyping, including men in menstrual conversations, transgender and disabled menstrual visibility, menstrual practices around the world, representations of female genetalia, female and body positivity, experiences of menstruation in public and private spaces, laws and religious impositions on menstruation, menstrual hygiene products, PMS, PMDD, period jokes, etc with no limitations on the medium of expressions (digital, cloth, canvas, anything imaginable).
Erythrean is a subsection of TCW, wherein menstrual blood is used as a medium of expression through various creative ideas on digital, fabric and other representations.
Launched on World Menstruation Day in 2017, i.e. 28th May, TCW is India’s first travelling art exhibition. The week long exhibits were in Chennai, Bangalore and Goa in 2017 and saw artists contributing artworks. We hope to make it to more cities.
If you would like to volunteer to help exhibit TCW in your city or contribute to the series, please write to us.
Menstrual cups have slowly been picking up in the country, however in terms of its regulatory status in Pharmaceutical or Medical Devices and compliance with respect to manufacturing is a grey area.
Menstrual cups would be predominantly regulated by Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics Rule of 1945, both of which contain no reference to menstrual cups. An RTI filed by Boondh related to the same with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) was dispensed stating that there is little information, and a clarification has been sought from the Central Information Commission on the same, which is pending. Internationally, Menstrual cups are exempt from premarket notification in the United States and are included in the US Pharmacopeiea, thereby giving them legal and regulatory status automatically in India as well in accordance with CDSCO. However, clarity on the status of menstrual cups by the Indian Regulatory Authority would give the market in itself a big boost.
Thanks to the recent growing revolution in period conversations on and off social media, we have access to a variety of personal and political stories related to menstruation. At Boondh, the blog we maintain is an attempt to push this beyond the narrative of personal experiences and politicize any and everything related to menstruation. This could be surrounding art, medicine, literature, technology, education, patents, legalities, environment, sustainability, contemporary activism etc.
Some of our pieces featured on media have gone viral, with a personal piece on Why ditch the pad has featured in the 50 most read articles on Youth Ki Awaaz and a political piece on Busting menstrual blood as dirty among the 17 most read stories on FII.
A Chemical Scientist’s perspective on the Design of Menstrual Cups
Design is motivated by function and the expected function of menstrual cups, put simply, is to hold the menstrual blood inside the vaginal cavity without leaking. Adding layers of complexity; it must be easy to place and remove, reusable and last long years, non-toxic, non-reactive with the fluids in the vaginal environment etc. However, menstrual cups also function to provide the unexpected delight of reduced cramps*, reduced duration of bleeding* and unparalleled comfort.
Whisper(ed) Narratives: Politics of Stain and Shame
“I am in my periods; I cannot enter the assembly of men!” — — Draupdi to Dusshasanna when she is dragged to court to be disrobed.
(She had) “blood coming out of her wherever” — -Donald Trump on Fox News host Megan Kelly.
We as a society seem to be preoccupied with the exterior appearances. Most advertisements of sanitary napkins are replete with phrases such as “protection,” “cleanliness” and “freedom.”
Cupvert This 2017
#CupvertThis2017 was a campaign to get more menstruators to switch to using menstrual cups in 2017 and talk about this shift in lifestyle on Facebook and other social media platforms to encourage more women in their network to make the switch. Women shared their personal experience of using the cup on their timelines and posted a picture of their menstrual cup, offering the final nudge to people in their network who knew of cups but were hesitant to try owing to not knowing any first hand users. It also went a long way in lot of women talking about menstrual cramps and other things period for the first time in their profiles in social media.
The Pad Effect
#ThePadEffect was a 26 day online campaign to advocate for sustainable menstruation and prevent thousands of tons of sanitary waste. It raised awareness on harmful effect of disposable sanitary napkin on the body and the environment and saw participation from several guest contributors. Feminism in India ran the campaign with Boondh, Ecofemme, Shomota, Uger, Shecup and Saathi.
The campaign consisted of 13 articles, 2 comics, 2 infographics, 10 posters, 3 twitter chats and a video. It reached 30,000+ people via different platforms. The articles explored a wide range of articles about sustainable menstruation. Boondh contributed a piece on examining menstrual discharge through a scientific lens: Myth vs Fact that made it to FII’s 17 most read pieces in 2017.