Category Archives: press

Press round up.

Hello! I’ve been away working on my Master’s dissertation.  How have you been?

This year has been quite a busy one, even more than usual, and most of the ad analysis has gone into my university work, education resources for #periodpositive and Stains™, and quite a bit of science communication comedy.

While I’ve been getting on with the research, though, menstrual activism media coverage has been growing, so I thought I’d do a round up.

Today there’s a lovely piece in the Telegraph by sex-positive scientist, writer and blogger Dr. Brooke Magnanti, with a link to my TEDx Sheffield 2012 talk.

The end of October saw a feature on all things period in the Times Style Section by Sweetening the Pill author Holly Grigg-Spall, with shout-outs and contributions from a number of us. If you don’t want to get your eyes all Murdoch-y, click the image below to embiggen a scan of the piece.

times article

Sarah Maple, who created the Menstruate With Pride triptych featured in the article, did a shout out in this interview in April about her visit to the 2010 Adventures in Menstruating show at Bluestockings.  jo and sarah stains

Eagle-eyed viewers of my TEDx Talk will have spotted this photo when Sarah and Jo volunteered to wear Stains™Also in April, Autostraddle came across Adventures in Menstruating at the Brooklyn Zine Fest and did a lovely feature and interview.

In March, Alternet  did a menstrual taboo round up featuring many of the usual suspects, and I was quoted in an article about Riot Grrrl and DIY culture in the Guardian.

Finally, back in February the ad agency behind the Mooncup rap battle campaign, St. Luke’s, nods in agreement at my last two blog posts at the start of the year analysing their Mooncup campaign.

For more details on the Mooncup story, and the truth behind that Bodyform viral ad, just keep scrolling down the blog.

I’ll be back soon enough to post updates about #periodpositive and Stains™, which you can also check out at their respective blogs, or find me on Twitter @chellaquint or @periodpositive.

Stuff and news and things to click about zines.

Zines in the news! Latest two titles  got a mention on the BBC news website today in a Sheffield/Rotherham fanzine feature, which was kinda amazing given all the other stuff that’s going on. Also, here’s the bit I did on  Radio Sheffield, which is online for a week. (Listen from about 2.20.) And now back to your regularly scheduled Fringe.

Why, thank you.

I’ve just had a very cool review from Olga Wolstenholme’s sex positive blog! Woohoo and thank you! 

Incidentally – it was quite heartening to read about Olga’s positive responses when she wrote about her diva cup (she refers to this in the post). One bad comment (also mentioned)  really can spoil the whole bunch at first, but I find visceral responses like that point up a lot of shame behind the knee-jerk reaction of a nasty remark. Which means there’s all the more reason to put period positive stuff out there – those taboos clearly need breaking. I quite like her (mostly in jest) disclaimer: ”As long as you’re not being ignorant or oppressive, you can go right ahead and think blood is gross.” 

A very good point. Nice one, Olga.

Stranded

“If there’s one thing my ol’ ma taught me, it’s that when life gives you volcanoes, make magazines.” -Andrew Losowsky.

So, as our families, most of our friends, and quite a few of our fans already know, Sarah and I were stranded by the ash cloud during what I have taken to calling ‘The Bad, Bad Volcano Time’ (which my mate Bruce originally thought was a menstrual euphemism). We spent an extra eight days in New York with little cash and diminishing good will radiating from my rather put-upon but extremely understanding family. 

My friend Parker looked after us – took us to karaoke bars, talked Doctor Who, watched the Barcelona match with us – and told us about this call for contributors to this magazine he’d heard about. You had to be a strandee to be involved, and the also-stranded editor, Andrew Losowsky, gave out real assignments suited to each writer or artist. It was great – it gave us something to do while we were on hold. The magazine’s out now – a very cool one-shot edition that we hope will never need to have a sequel.  We’re big fans of physics, though, and you never know what’s around the tectonic corner, so please don’t quote us on that.

We can vouch for the total awesomeness of Stranded Magazine, however.  It’s got an amazing layout, beautiful graphics, and talented contributors. If not for the volcano, we’d never have gotten to work with them, and we’re indebted to Andrew for having the idea in the first place, followed by the wherewithal to complete the project. Among lots of other stuff, Stranded contains an article about karaoke from me, cocktails Sarah and I invented on a volcanic theme (complete with paper airplane), and you even get to see a photo of my childhood bedroom and the massive mural my dad painted on my wall when I was five. 

It’s printed by magcloud, which is a print-on-demand service, it’s also got a zillion pages (official count), and $5 of each purchase goes to a refugee charity. That makes it pretty expensive,  particularly to us zine types who tend to spend £3 or less on self-published type things, but here’s why you should still get it:

It’s a very cool piece of recent history – it puts the art in artefact. Think of it as the coffee table book of the magazine world. It will last ages as long as you don’t read it in the bath or turn the pages with buttery and toast crumby fingers at the breakfast table. It’s a lot cheaper-sounding once you convert the price into pounds sterling. There are no profits – that’s literally the cost of production plus $5 to charity. And finally, you’ll have something to read in case you ever find yourself stranded.

You can order it here.

-Chella

Hate ‘moisture’? You’ll love these.

So Johnson & Johnson’s Canadian division’s just launched a new Stayfree campaign that I found out about when a Toronto reporter contacted me for an article she was writing. The campain is a series of viral youtube videos that simulate a date with one of three archetypal ‘Mr. Rights’, segue into a product testing situation, and conclude with an offer of a coupon for a free pack of pads.

Now, you can’t argue with free stuff, and the viral nature of the campaign is a good hook to try and get women who have brand loyalty but who might be persuaded to swap, but I think it’s the pads market going for tampon users. A virtual date with attractive thirty-something guys with careers, skills and hobbies? That’s the top half of the 18-34 demographic and I’m pretty sure I remember reading we’re mostly tampon users, though a lot of people have swapped to reusable menstrual cups, so I think on that front these ads aren’t going to work. They’ve already got a couple of things working against them, and only the free stuff in their favour.

Then there’s the length of those ads – two-and-a-half minutes of talking nonstop and the woman’s just nodding? I ramble on about menstruation, but I do let people get a word in edgeways.

Taking the ads as a whole, the ‘I’m on a horse’ Old Spice ad surreal shift to product testing mid date is funny, and the fact that it is so much of a cliché is in keeping with the new ‘tongue in cheek’ ad style, but the message is all wrong. It’s interesting that comedy femcare ads are happening now (this is the third big comedy campaign after Mother Nature and the role reversal Kotex ones, and the nth viral…). I may have no show left to do soon because I’ve parodied femcare ads for the past five years and now they’re parodying themselves. Maybe they’ve been reading my zine. Still though, I wish they’d stop making the same old mistakes. Periods don’t need to be invisible, they don’t need to be negative, and they don’t stand alone – they’re part of a whole biological process and not a creepy ‘other’ that women ‘suffer from’. They’re too inconsistent to be properly funny. If they’re going to go to all that effort, they’d do better to leave out the negative messages. But I’m making sweeping generalisations. Let’s break it down. Here’s where they go wrong on their dates:

Brad The Chef:

They’ve missed a trick with the tomato sauce spilling on the chef’s shirt. It figures that the first time ever there’s a red stain in a femcare ad it’s on a dude.

Then he says “I like thinness, don’t you?” Ok so body image obsessed then…  Fail. 

Ryan The Toymaker:

Stereotype of the do-gooder, check. Good effort. But then he says, “I hate moisture.” (Like it’s evil.)  “Don’t you just hate moisture?” And then the camera…nods?

Dismissive euphemism for blood aside, if they both hate moisture, that is going to be one…chaste relationship.

Moisture? Liquid? They may have tried to appear ‘brave’ or ‘savvy’ by sticking a dude in the ad, but Stayfree doesn’t have the ovaries to use red liquid or say blood? In 2010? Either would be fine. Their version of the visual and the vocab makes menstruation disappear…in an ad for maxipads.

Finally, the killer for Ryan is when he says, “It’s not fair that you should have to experience this every month. It’s just not fair.”

I’m assuming that’s part of the parody – the middle distance stare, the reverent whisper – but the pitying tone means we’ve just been equated with homeless cats (one of the cats is named ‘Spazz’ – in England, that term is really offensive…) and disadvantaged children in our ‘inability’ to cope with menstruation. We are disadvantaged. Poor us.

Doctor Trev:

Ok, feminine hygiene ad deconstruction aside, Trevor doesn’t know how to vacuum. Either that or I don’t. All I know is, if I were doing it that way, I’d wanna be doing it better, so the whole ‘here’s a man who can hoover’ thing doesn’t work.   Again another stain, but this time it’s pit stains, and we’re allowed to see real pit stains. Why isn’t that blue liquid?

It’s hilarious by the way that there is a red logo on the back of his pants – I thought he had a stain on them for a minute.

Then he says, “Wow, just look at all that messy liquid. I tell ya, if I could go through this experience every month instead of you, I would.”

He thinks he’s saying he’ll menstruate. He’ll be a hero and take one for the team. What? He and Stayfree don’t seem to be aware that they’re signing him up for a whole lot more than that.  He can offer to swap reproductive organs if he wants, but he may end up in it for the whole nine yards and the whole nine months, should anyone be able to take him up on that. One of main problems with femcare advertising is they literally bank on us thinking blood’s gross. But menstruation is just one small part of a much bigger reproductive process. Is he offering to get pregnant and  give birth for me? Cool. It’d be nice if he were jealous and was like pining for the chance to menstruate, but he’s painting it as though he’s the saviour who can rescue us from misery.

Many women have periods that are not that bad. You just don’t hear about it because it doesn’t sell anything. No extra heavy flow pads, no super absorbent tampons and no contraceptive pills or painkillers if it’s all going fine.

Bottom line, a guy being down with periods is great, and to find that out on a first date with him is even better, but the ‘I know best’ attitude, parody or not, when combined with the blood’s ‘gross’ and ‘can’t be mentioned’ and ‘it’s such a burden to you’ is whack, and not what I’m looking for.

And finally, I tried to get in touch with the Commercial Production Association of Toronto, to ask what the statistical chances were of it being a guy behind the camera. They weren’t answering.

Snub THIS.

the anti periodicalWe got to talking about this again today (don’t miss the comments), and Sarah and I have put together our own response. She hit upon the inspired title and volunteered to be the cover girl. (And by ‘volunteered’, I mean ‘chose posing over stealing an image off the internet’.)

It seems really bizarre to us that a whole host of women had to write, edit and lay out that anti-periodical’s non-review, and it still made it to press. We get particularly irked when period shame is around under the guise of  ‘vehemently over it and will say so to anyone who’ll listen’.

My grandma used to read that magazine (you know which one we’re talking about). I remember seeing a bunch of back issues sitting in the magazine rack next to her sofa while I interviewed her about attitudes to periods on the lower east side in the 1920s.  Readers of Adventures in Menstruating #2 will know that my grandma was more enlightened then than Bledbook is now.     -Chella

PS  Just a quick edit to add that Bust has picked up…Snubgate? Shall we call it Snubgate?

If you’re in Ireland, tune in! If you’re somewhere else in the world, you’ll have to listen a bit harder!

Chella will be talking about menstrual comedy with Sean Moncrieff on Newstalk Radio this afternoon, during his show which airs from 2 – 4:30 pm. You can listen on the radio or online (even if you’re outside of Ireland) at the Newstalk website. On the occasion of our Irish radio debut, we’d also like to give a shout out to Party Weirdo, The Rag Collective, Ladyfest Cork, and all our pals!

Bloody brilliant!

We just got some nice coverage in the Guardian G2. Who knew their online edition was posted the night before? (Well…many people, probably, but there you are!)

Skids Pads, Viral Ads…and AWESOME comments sections.

I have a minor addiction to the Guardian G2 Shortcuts section and quick crossword. Yes, they’re available online, but as a zine writer, I need it in print form. Today’s dose included Kira Cochrane’s account of a viral ad campaign about masculine hygiene products by, um, one of my competitors. It’s getting a bit freaky how closely feminine hygiene product advertising seems to be echoing our comedy sketches lately. Have we tapped into the zeitgeist? Or are their marketing departments just very thorough? If it’s the latter, “Hi there, marketing department researchers. Thanks for stopping by. I think.” (Waves nervously.)


I did these ads for the launch of issue 3 of Adventures in Menstruating, and they’ve been around ever since at our live comedy shows, which feature various riffs on ‘pads for men’ ads.



You may enjoy my own contribution to the viral internet canon, which, like the other Skids stuff, went live in August 2007. Thanks to Cakebread Illustrations for offering to make the website after seeing our show in Berlin. Stay tuned for further additions.


In the meantime, please enjoy the fantastically hilarious comments on today’s G2 article. Now Mooncup really know how to do viral.




Time flies. Issue 4 is due another reprint, and we’re back in Berlin on 18 July.


-Chella

Newphemisms.

So, in our quest for ever stupider content, Sarah and I have been doing some fart-joke style menstrual riffing. Proper lowest common denominator stuff. That’s your disclaimer.

I mentioned to Sarah that I wanted to come up with some new menstrual euphemisms – just for fun – no stigma attatched but more for vocabularic variety. There are fabulous metaphors for masturbation, defecation and all the other -ations that come out of your body, but menstrual metaphors all seem very negative and 1950s to us.

Her suggestion: When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along – I laughed and laughed. Then we looked up the song and realised it was sung by Doris Day (we love Doris Day), mentioned throbbing, and was about feeling positive. Why not specifically period positive, we say.

Usage:

Sarah: Hey, Chella, my Red Red Robin just came Bob Bob Bobbin’ along. Have you got a tampon?

Chella: What a coincidence. My 99 Red Balloons have just gone by and and I’ve still got a pad in my bag.

(Only the English version of that song works, by the way, and could have some straw-grasping interpretations about male panic about menstruation rather than an impending invasion.)

In more sensible news, Sarah’s poem was posted on Feminist Review today. For her efforts, she’s won a quite cool looking book. Another winner, Erika Mikkalo, wrote a poem that reminded me of the Radio 4 programme I mentioned the other week about feminists being funny: Call Yourself A Feminist.

Do send us newphemisms.

Chella