So, I was visiting Russia on a completely different assignment (covering a theatre festival there) but of course had to take some pics of my friends who tried to live up to all the cliches of Russian life as they greeted me with vodka, bread, and fur caps and then, later, the menstrual products I found at various stores. (Just FYI, the Always pictured in this photo costs 525 rubles which translates to about $8.25.)

Research on menstrual education and attitudes appears to be scant there but this 2016 academic study proves interesting. Most shocking to me were the answers that gynecologists there gave regarding tampons. Researchers write that they analyzed in depth responses by 20 of the doctors they interview and these were the results:

“The typical answers were analyzed.
1. None of the professional received any formal education on tampon usage since
during their time of education tampons were not commonly used.
2. Most doctors do not talk about tampon usage with their patients unless directly
3. Most doctors show negative personal opinion about tampons usage indicating
that tampons can be used only in emergency situations (social functions, swimming,
etc.). Moreover, all of the interviewed agreed with the statement that «tampons are
4. Doctors know that women with intact hymen can use tampons.
5. Doctors do not believe that women need to get education on tampons versus
pads usage during their visits.
6. Gynecologists believe that tampons cause micro traumas to vaginal walls and
make them susceptible to viruses, such as HIV, genital herpes, etc.
7. Doctors were also asked about the reason of lack of studies dedicated to the use
of tampons. The most common answer was: «The topic is irrelevant. There are tampons
and pads, there is nothing to research». “
Furthermore, one section looked at information regarding menstruation in some of the Muslim communities in Russia:
Screen Shot 2019-09-23 at 1.27.47 PM

Simple, right?

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_48e4I love the Poynter Institute for all kinds of reasons–not least of them, Teachapalooza, which despite its tiresome/dated name is an amazing conference for journalism teachers–but this warmed my heart when I saw it in the Poynter Institute bathroom recently. No costly dispensers to be installed. No ensuing contracts with service providers to refill said machines. Simple, right?

Yo, Photo Editor

Screen Shot 2019-09-23 at 12.26.45 PM

Okay, so good on the U.K. for upping its game by providing free sanitary products to all primary schools.

And good on the BBC for covering the move.

But what’s up this wack stock photo? The image is wrong on so many levels. 1) It is a photo of a machine where tampons cost £1 to illustrate an article about free menstrual products. 2) It is depicting a “Super” Tampax which is, well, quite a stretch for little primary school girls many of whom are more likely opting for pads in these early days. 3) Wow, some serious product placement going on here.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and wager that this photo editor is male, gave this story two seconds thought, and told his (male) intern to pull some ancient stock footage without even reading the article. Just a guess.

For an interesting piece on New York State’s free tampons in schools and how the costs will likely play out, see Bridget Crawford’s 2018 article on Feminist Law Professors.