If your boyfriend won't buy you tampons, is that period shaming?

Mandy Velez
Contributing Writer
Is it embarrassing for men to buy tampons? (Photo: Getty Images)

A woman has taken to Reddit to share her feelings after her boyfriend refused to buy her tampons. To process her feelings, she turned to the platform to tell her story, which has sparked a conversation about how subtle and hurtful period shaming can be.

In the women-focused sub-Reddit TwoXChromosomes, where people can share stories or information related to women’s experiences, Reddit user faultierin shared the uncomfortable encounter that went down after she asked her boyfriend to buy her tampons.

“I was today at my boyfriend’s and I got a surprise period, I wasn’t expecting it for another six days. I had no tampons with me, so I asked my boyfriend if he could go to the shop and buy me some. He had to leave the flat in about 25 mins, but the trip would take him only about 10 in total,” she wrote. “He looked at me and asked if I can’t go by myself, because it would be embarrassing for him to buy tampons.”

The woman wrote that her boyfriend’s response made her uncomfortable.  

“I got cramps, pains, and he was all like ‘how would it look like if I went to buy tampons?’ So I put on my pants, took my stuff and came back to my place,” she wrote.

Her experience is not an isolated one. Others on the Reddit thread chimed in to say how periods can often be debilitating, and defended faultierin against those who said she shouldn’t have expected someone else to buy her tampons when she could just get them herself. “Some people’s cramps are very severe or their flow is very heavy,” one user wrote in defense of faultierin. 

Women all over the world have begun to speak out about period shaming. To fight back, women have become unapologetic and more public about their periods through words (the newly engaged Meghan Markle has spoken out on period shaming before) and actions (like running races while free bleeding). The goal is to change the way people view periods so that society doesn’t put women at a disadvantage, like paying a higher tax on feminine products than on gender-neutral products, or being made to feel ashamed of their bodies just because they require extra hygienic care.

But a culture shift won’t happen overnight. According to the Lily contributor Rachel Hatzipanagos, society has conditioned women to hide their periods as far back as the early 20th century.

“By the 1920s, women entering the burgeoning pink-collar job market felt pressure to be discreet and presentable,” she wrote, citing historian Lara Freidenfelds. According to Freidenfelds, women in the workplace felt pressure to keep their periods to themselves.

This, along with the “gross period” trope in pop culture, as Bustle points out, has created a full-fledged stigma against one of the most basic human bodily functions. On a global scale, in many places girls drop out of school when they begin menstruating — or at the very least miss school during their periods due to a lack of sanitary products. 

While going to the store to buy a box of tampons doesn’t seem to have much of a stake in the period-shaming war, compared with other forms of oppression, the Reddit post started a conversation and represented what today’s women expect from men when it comes to their period. For faultierin, not letting buying a box of tampons be such an embarrassing request is one.  

“Now I’m angry, I feel like I did something wrong asking him,” faultierin wrote. “I’m just disappointed and sad.”

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