Men Look ‘Cool’ Posing With Pads, But Will Padman Challenge Create Acceptance Around Menstruation?

Posted: February 6, 2018

Men posing with pads a.ka. the Padman challenge won’t dissolve the stigma around menstruation. What we need is social awareness, education, and treating periods as a natural occurrence. 

I just watched a short video, where as a part of promotions for the upcoming movie Padman, Anil Kapoor And Rajkummar Rao talk about how periods are completely normal. That’s rather cool, yeah?

Nope. Not for me, anyway.  What peeved me off was that in a video that promotes the use of a product that is exclusively meant for women, there is no woman. (Let’s leave aside the burning question – how will posing with pads change anything at all?)

What I found outright offensive was that the video ends with Kapoor and Rao posing with pads. Yes, pads! Next, will we be shown menstrual blood instead of blue ink in sanitary napkin ads? Visiting the loo in the morning is normal too. Why don’t we start posing with toilet paper rolls?

Men posing with pads is as ridiculous as men getting waxed to understand what it means to be a woman.

This, yet another attempt at mindless film marketing, is a classic example of trying to cash in on the wave of feminism while being steeped in misogyny and misplaced feminism. I don’t need to see a man posing with a pad to tell me its natural.

I want the man that I buy my next pack of sanitary napkins from, to not wrap it in a black polythene and slip it to me with a side glance, as if I was smuggling some contraband.

What I want is the next boy who sees a red stain on a girl’s uniform at school to not snigger behind her back or embarrass her.

Truth is men have always been allowed to do what they want. Who is going to stop them from going out at night, partying with their friends, or posing with pads, if that’s what they want to do. They are men, and men can do anything, right?

As the challenge does the round on Twitter, and celebrities, pad in hand, grin into camera, all that it does is make a mockery of the woman. That it does nothing to create awareness about periods and or build sensitivity around it is an understatement. At a time when we are debating on whether period leave is empowering or detrimental to the position of women, men posing with pads is definitely a half-baked attempt (if we can even call it that) and instead comes across as a marketing gimmick, and nothing more.

Even with all the fake bravado that men are displaying as they hold the pads, rural women are still ashamed to even say the word.

Forget rural or illiterate women, a large number of women in urban households across the country are so restricted that the only time they step out of their houses is when they need to buy sanitary pads. And the only reason they are allowed to go out even then, is because the men find it awkward to buy it for them.

This new attempt at making periods normal by asking men to pose with them serves no purpose except hand over even more control to men. Now, women don’t need to step out at all for husbands would buy it for them instead.

What we do need instead is to have a series of initiatives that attempt to promote gender sensitivity-

  • Conduct workshops in schools and colleges that impart sex education not just because it is mandatory but to genuinely sensitize school and college kids to the biological changes in men and women. Also, please don’t restrict it to only urban schools, include the rural schools as well.
  • Have all schools install vending machines for sanitary napkins. (Needless, to say, pads should be dispensed to women who need them and not to rowdy boys who make a toy out of it.)
  • Ensure shopkeepers treat the pack of sanitary napkins not as some contraband to be hidden in a newspaper of black poly-bag but as a normal item of personal use like a shampoo or a shower gel.
  • Allow menstruating women into temples and kitchens. (Yes, this point is still relevant!)
  • Stop mocking and embarrassing women when they head to the washrooms with their handbags.
  • Stop telling a woman that she is using menstruation as an excuse to shirk work just because some other woman can work normally during her periods. Every woman’s period experience is unique and you cannot generalize the level of discomfort or pain a woman feels during her periods!
  • Call for making sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, and tampons more easily available as well as exempt from GST. (Yes, we are still fighting this fight too!)

And lastly, try sending a woman out to buy a condom. And then see the reactions.

Let’s wait for the day when a video of women with condoms, and not of men with pads, would be considered normal.

Image source: shutterstock

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Piyusha is a sometime sane reader, part-time crazy writer and full-time wacky alien.

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