Every year around November, the Gender Equity Center at California State University San Marcos holds an incredibly important, empowering event called “Love your Body Day”. The day is held to celebrate all of the unconventionally wonderful things about our bodies that get left behind in its representations through everyday media, such as its ability to have curves, move to music, appear much more unique and diverse than perceived, and so much more.
Last year’s event was a particularly incredible one because the new staff at the “G-Spot” added brand-new topics to the day’s agenda, including a whole new focus on “vaginal health”.
I remember receiving the phone call from my friend who was a staff member at the G-Spot as well as a student on campus. She knew my interest in and advocacy for The DivaCup and wondered if I would be interested in holding a table promoting alternatives to tampons and pads (i.e. re-usable alternatives).
Volunteer my time to force women to push their societal boundaries and discuss their vaginas? Yes, please.
Here was an opportunity to seriously change at least one, if not many women’s relationships to their “feminine hygiene” routines. The environmental impact is one thing, but the idea of telling women that it is okay to touch themselves, to let go of shame and to come out of their “bleeding” closets is something I MIGHT dream of creating a career out of when I rest my eyes at night.
Anyways, I declined the offer.
JOKES, EVERYONE! OF COURSE I ACCEPTED! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? CANCEL ALL PLANS, I’M GOING TO TALK ABOUT BLEEDING VAGINAS FOR THE AFTERNOON!
In classic Anja fashion (that’s me), I procrastinated on all the amazing things I wanted to do for the booth and stressed that I didn’t have enough information to share come the day of the event. “There is so much they need to know”, my mind frantically pondered. I mean, people write whole books on this topic! My favorite authors have spent thesis write ups and years of research on obtaining this information and here I was, a booth squeezed between a coloring-book table and a make-up removal stand, hooking women in by yelling about my DivaCup and waving it around like a flag.
Eventually, I printed out three sheets of paper and “elegantly” placed them on my table (aka used bright red masking tape on a ripped up table cloth) which stated the health risks associated with tampons and pads and the number of disposable “feminine hygiene products” a woman uses on average in her lifetime. For all other questions, I was armed with “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and my moon-time diva, Scarlett who carried little print-outs with DivaCup’s website and Facebook links.
I also included print outs of sea-sponges and re-usable pads but it was 2013 and people love the freedom of seeing and believing. Therefore, I was equipped with a REAL-LIFE (gasp!) DivaCup and an insertion demonstration that put all pre-existing DivaCup hand-models to SHAME (JUST KIDDING, youtubers).
I guess I had been prepared for some curiosity around my table and the topic in general, but not nearly the amount I received. Included in the long list of my interests, aside from promoting DivaCups in virtually every conversation with anybody, is everyday sociology. The reactions were fascinating and while I was wrapped up in consistent presentations, (“Ever heard of The DivaCup?” “Yeah, but, remember how alien tampons felt when you first tried those?” and “You set it and forget it!”) I couldn’t help but observe the varied reactions I received and how the variables of gender, age, ethnicity, and accompaniment all came into play.
The feminist in me wanted to approach every man that laughed or scoffed as they passed and inform them that they wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this wonderful life process or that the landfills being polluted with the billions of non-recyclable, toxic products that were being sold to his loved ones WERE, in fact, a MAN’S issue, but that wasn’t what I was there for. The goal of the day was to re-introduce women to this process in their bodies that was being taken away from them under the disguise of “practicality” and “discreetness”.
While most of the women that came up to my table did so wearily, they always left in wonder with a DivaCup card in their hand.
I’m not afraid to tell someone that The DivaCup will change their lives; In fact, I firmly believe The DivaCup has the power to change the world. This is my true opinion and I stand by it!
When the day ended I was out of cards and in complete awe of the amount of people I met who had never known there were any alternatives to their annoying, expensive, and time-consuming relationship with tampons and pads. I felt like if even one woman decided to switch over, my mission was complete. After all, the beauty in The DivaCup user is knowing that there is absolutely no way the story ends with her- that seed will sprout its way in the minds of hundreds of other women and so forth – ONWARD, I thought. Then I patted myself on the back and let my ego have its way for the next half hour.
I just moved to Norway, a fairly large country with only one DivaCup carrier, as listed on the website. That’s right, in this entire place.
Things are gonna start changin’ around here, Norway.
Anja is in her 24th year of life on earth and is learning how to grow deeper into her-self with every day that passes. Academia and a few amazing professors helped push her into a passion for social justice and in particular, Gender Studies. She is currently exploring, living and looking for work in Oslo, Norway where she is sharing the wonders of her DivaCup and attempting to persuade local stores to start carrying them. She loves people, dogs, laughing for a large majority of her day, feminism, and cinnamon rolls. Feel free to add her on Facebook because she probably wants to be your friend.