It’s Menstrual Hygiene Day! A discussion of whether having a day dedicated to something is the best way to raise positive awareness

I am a great fan of The Body Shop and regularly purchase items from their online store, my favourites being their body butters which smell delicious and as a result of slathering myself with them, so do I! Huzzah!

As a returning customer, I get a constant stream of emails from The Body Shop amongst others, telling me about offers they may have and free shipping entitlements, etc. This will be no news to anyone.

Last week, though, I had an email entitled “It’s Menstrual Hygiene Day”, similar to the title of this blog although I have to say less enthusiastically punctuated and it provoked a reaction in me which I am not sure that I can totally identify really. Shock? Disbelief? Curiosity? Wonder? A snigger? Perhaps all of these?

You see, it was unexpected and I have to say, not something of which I would have dreamed up myself and so, I think that my reaction stems from the surprise of this more than anything. But May 28th is Menstrual Hygiene Day.

I don’t know about you but I feel like this attributing days to certain things as an official or unofficial day dedicated to that particular thing may have gone a bit far.

  • Mothers Day and Fathers Day, I get.
  • Earth Day, I get.
  • The commemoration of certain events on certain days, I get like November 11th, Veterans Day in the US and Anzac Day in Australia.

But Menstrual Hygiene Day? Please don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to belittle the message. Having looked at the website attributed to this cause, I can see that it is incredibly important as it advocates for women who through lack of education, stigma and taboo have poor menstrual hygiene and a lot of organisations, profit and non-profit have come together to try and make a difference so that these women have opportunities that would otherwise be closed off to them because of something as simple as access to menstrual hygiene education and products.

Yes, this is something that I take for granted and have never been inhibited by. I am privileged and lucky. My friend, Sandy, used to be part of a sewing group which met to make sanitary towels to forward to indigenous female populations in Canada to enable them to be more independent and less restricted by something of which they have no control and which is perfectly natural so I know about this from conversations with her.

My commentary is not about the cause – it is about having a day for it because I think that this is losing its power as a thing with which to highlight an issue. I feel that I may be right in this attitude because of my reaction to it. My first thought should have been “Menstrual Hygiene Day? I need to look into that” whereas it was “Menstrual Hygiene Day? You’ve got to be bloody kidding me!” (no pun intended) And that is not good.

There seems to be an inordinate amount of labelling of days for certain things in these modern times. To prove my point, I bet that if I Googled the date this blog is published, it would be attributed to something. In fact, that is exactly what I am going to do…it is June 9th…it’s Johnny Depp’s birthday as well as Natalie Portman’s and Michael J. Fox’s…and it is also National Sex Day!

National Sex Day, people! And no, I am not making this up.

Yep, it’s real, folks!

So, you’ll be pleased to know that, and I quote, “National Sex Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated on June 9th. It is dedicated to having sexual relations with someone else”. I mean, for some of us (and I don’t necessarily mean me here, readers), it could be that every day is indeed a holiday, unofficially, of course.

Please don’t misconstrue the message of this blog. Menstrual Hygiene is important, no doubt about it and the continuing fight for women to be treated equally is one of which I am in full support and enabling women who are in a lesser social, lesser culturally liberal, more taboo driven society than the one in which I am fortunate to inhabit can only be a great thing, a thing worthy of advocacy.

My point is that having a Menstrual Hygiene Day may not be the best way to gain this awareness, as days are attributed to all sorts of causes or other in this day and age and not always for positive benefit. This is highlighted in the example above of National Sex Day to good effect but perhaps more troubling is the recent skewed TikTok furore about April 24th which had been named by some random people as National Rape Day. This was all done apparently in a hoax video, the source of which is uncertain but seemed to present the idea that April 24th should be a day dedicated to the sexual assault of women with no legal ramifications – it would technically be legal to rape for 24 hours. Having read a bit about the discussion surrounding this uproar on the internet, it seems to be discredited with TikTok finding no evidence of it. However, it was easily created and easily publicised due to social media and, in this instance luckily, just as easily undone, it would appear.

However, the fact that I am even having to refer to something like this having been suggested, in the context of my blog, is disturbing enough, isn’t it?

And this is the crux of my argument. Giving a day a title to raise awareness is not a powerful or necessarily positive device any more, if indeed it ever was. I understand the need to find a means to get people thinking and to make this awareness widespread and global. Creating a day like Menstrual Hygiene Day and promoting it through channels is one way of doing it. But I can’t help but think that the most effective way is not through distant means like websites and social media – it’s got to be at grassroots level, getting into communities and talking to people, educating on the frontline.

And I am sure that these organisations are doing that too and I can only hope that the attribution of a day named for their cause is a small part of their armoury of awareness rather than the main weapon.

However, you could argue that it has served its purpose and has been effective, couldn’t you, if having people discuss its validity and potential impact in a blog is anything to go by? How deliciously ironic.

And on that note, I will leave you, if you are reading this on the day of its publication, to celebrate June 9th, National Sex Day, whether you view it as official or unofficial, in a way that you feel is fitting to the occasion!

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