Bloody Hell, a zine all about menstruation, bleeding and general period anecdotes, was created by graphic designer Soofia Andry. Last Saturday, she held a Period Party to mark its launch, attracting many feminists, bleeding-enthusiasts and period-curious folks. The corresponding Facebook event was aptly named “It’s My Party and I’ll Menstruate If I Want To”; the wordplay on Drake lyrics alone proved inviting. Armed with red velvet cakes and a pricey bottle of sour cherry and grape cordial, my friends and I headed towards The Feminist Library for some bloody action.
Tables were adorned with badges, necklaces, zines of sorts, and of course, copies of Bloody Hell. You might have thought Tracey Emin came to decorate the place, but the artist was nowhere to be seen; she would have definitely approved of tampons drenched in food colour and glitter hanging around.
The event operated using a safe space policy. Name labels were used, which also indicated our preferred pronouns when being addressed and photography permissions. As someone who do not frequent events where this level of consideration is the norm, it took me by surprise. Pronouns and photography may be miniscule factors that shape our commitment to events and social gatherings, but they remain to be daily struggles for many.
Soofia Andry started the formalities with a few thanks, an introduction to the Bloody Hell zine project and her polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) journey. Hannah Daisy, a PCOS and endometriosis sufferer, followed Andry with her tales of period woes. Daisy beautifully highlighted the ill-treatment of some sufferers under the health system, which led to her 14-year battle to obtain a formal diagnosis and eventual treatment. The Q and A portion had the health system and the questionable actions taken by many doctors under fire. It was brilliantly eye-opening and inspiring to listen to these women talk about their bleeding experiences – and lack of thereof – so hauntingly honest and graphic.
Shortly after, #periodpositive campaigner and STAINS™ founder Chella Quint delivered an enthusiastic and interactive talk where guests were encouraged to be more open about their menstrual cycles. We were talked through the advertisement industry’s ridiculous marketing ploys for sanitary products, including ‘whisper’ pads and false promises of a rebirth if we use X tampon and Y pad.
Chella also touched on the topics of synchronisation – a subject which has never been allocated a dedicated and comprehensive scientific study – and anxiety felt by many young girls on the fear of leakage whilst on their period; Chella founded STAINS™ to help break the negative connotations surrounding the latter. The #periodpositive campaign was brought to light shortly which emphasises the somewhat socially-accepted hushed notion towards menstruation.
After a demonstration of the menstrual mambo dance – a choreography designed to teach people of all ages about the sanitary products available to modern bleeders – Chella Quint handed a STAINS™ removable stain to each guest as a parting gift. A fashion accessory that is “leak chic,” used as an instrument to exploit the unnecessary visceral reaction towards bleeding.
My friends and I descended out of The Feminist Library brimming with radical zines about menstruation and female body hair, some new fun facts about sanitary products and their history within the advertisement industry, and, lastly, the newfound willingness to be honest and raw about periods.
As I waited for my friend Georgia to board the half past four train to St. Alban’s, we exchanged period anecdotes in Waterloo Station. Granted, there were a few uncomfortable faces around, but we did not care. Because menstruation is not blush-worthy; it’s not shameful. Talking about our monthly cycles may help shorten the ridiculous long diagnosis periods associated with conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis.
To highlight the importance of being period positive, Lena Dunham, a long-time sufferer of endometriosis, dedicated the one of the more recent issues of her newsletter, Lenny, to the subject. Personal stories, diary entries, interviews and abstract art all feature, embodying many aspects of the Period Party in digital format for those who missed the action over at The Feminist Library a couple of weeks back.
Written by: julia Anduiza