Looks of Disgust, Jealousy or Perversion?

For those of you who are avid shoppers and have access to a Walmart, you would know that this past week was Walmart’s anniversary. As such, they featured many low-price products and paired with back-to-school and back-IN-school sales, they attracted many shoppers of all ages and gender. As I was walking through Walmart, it was almost like wading through the streets of a busy night in Hong Kong, pushing through throngs of people to get at the “sale bins”. Clearly Walmart was prepared, because many of the sale items were constantly available as I watched the associates fill the shelves again and again as the masses of people stepped away, revealing gaping holes where products used to sit. Of those sales, Walmart featured an assortment of Always pads, liners and Tampax tampons for $2.87/ea – however, with a limit of 6. Obviously if you have those families that have many females in the house, whether living with relatives or with many daughters, girls had stacked boxes and packages at the checkout counter. Let’s face it, a family with 3 girls (let’s just say a mother and 2 daughters), that’s already EIGHTEEN packs of pads/tampons that they would be eligible to buy within the limits.

I swear, while the prices of pads or tampons haven’t decreased, it seems like the quantity of them slowly get chipped away. For instance, the original Stayfree line had more pads per package than the current Thermocontrol series, even though the overall pricing structure hasn’t changed. I can understand developing newer products and technology costs money and that shoppers may be turned off at a price hike, but let’s not assume people buying stuff are blind. We know that every package, there’s a few less before and the price of the package is still the same. That morning, when I got to work, I noticed my Brandsaver coupons had arrived, one of which was a 75-cents off any Always product. Given that the only other sale of Always products I’ve seen so cheap was $2.77 (only on 2 days of the week though), I figured $2.87 -0.75 would be a pretty good price to pick up some pads and tampons. Since the other day I only recently stocked up a variety of pads to revisit and tampons to have one of my girls test for me, I was not in need of them. But as usual, I always have my girls and girlfriend in mind and since bebe isn’t a big Always fan, I decided to check up on some of my other girls to see if they needed a restock!

While I always feel comfortable when it comes to being in the feminine hygiene aisle or that I’m a part of my girls’ purchasing decision, I never flaunt my status loudly. Again, I love the fact my girls allow me to be part of their menstrual lives, so in public I never make a huge deal out of it. I also respect the general public where I know that menstruation and purchasing products is a very taboo thing, particularly when there’s a male presence. Therefore I still try to ensure that the people around me aren’t affected by undue pressure or embarassment. I picked up my cell phone while standing in front of the Tampax bin and quietly, but audibly asked one of my girls if she needed tampons. A few heads turned and because this was in the open-floor and not the aisle (because they were in bargain sections, not in the usual feminine hygiene “corner”), there were young, old, male, female and everyone in between who took a double-take to what I said over the phone. I know I’m Asian, but I also didn’t shout in my phone, but in such a tight environment because of such a busy day, people were close enough to hear. I remember my exact words, “Hey [friend’s name], I’m at Walmart right now and I noticed they have some Tampax Supers on sale… the umm.. cardboard ones, are you interested in me getting some for you?

The looks I received, I couldn’t quite make out the thoughts running through people’s heads. I know that people depending on upbringing, age and culture, all see male-participation in menstruation very differently. I know for one thing my dad would go with my mom to buy these products, but would not carry them and would often tell my mom to stop swinging her bags if they had pads in them, because it would attract too much humiliating attention. Likewise, the older guys in my family would definitely not even be present to buy such products or even recognize the existence of feminine hygiene supplies. For me, periods are something to be loved, cherished and an opportunity for us guys to show a bit of care and extra pampering. Suffice to say, my friend said she was actually running low and would love it if I could buy a few boxes for her and she’d pay me back. While some finished looking, others pretty much watched me and listened in on the entire conversation I had over the phone… perhaps they were interested in why I seem to have no gripes about buying tampons so openly or that I would be the one to initiate an offer to my friend if she needed some. I smiled and said, “Sure. After I get them, I’ll drop them off in an hour or so, is that ok?” and then the call ended. I picked up 4 boxes, cradled them in my arm and walked around for a bit more before going to checkout and getting in my car.

Throughout that time, I asked myself, when people looked at me, was it a look of disgust, jealousy or even perversion? There’s been a few times when I’ve had female sales clerks or cashiers, that they seemed pleasantly surprized seeing my proactiveness or just willingness to carry around pads/tampons without sheltering them. On the occasion where the staff are feeling brave, they’ve even commented on how “lucky your girlfriend or wife must be” even though there are times I were buying them for myself, for one of my girls or whatnot. Surely, I know bebe appreciates that I can openly purchase these products with her and that she never needs to be afraid to ask me to buy them, or buy them in my presence. Ask yourself, the last time you saw a guy buying feminine hygiene products: what were your thoughts? Was it, “ewww, that’s so gross…” or “Aw, that’s nice of him…” or “Gee, I wonder what he does with those..”

If you’re an Always or Tampax fan and have access to a Walmart, the sale ends in 2 days so get them quick!

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About Prexus Swyftwynd

Probably not a good idea for you to know anything about me....

Posted on September 20, 2011, in Periodtastic, Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Prexus,

    Another excellent article about our cultural views toward menstruation. As a person who must deal with this subject on an almost weekly basis due to his work, I always enjoy viewing your posts.

    I work in the field of autism, and as I have mentioned before, am autistic myself. Despite being a guy, I have been exposed to many struggles that females with autism encounter due to their periods. The impairments that autism brings sometimes results in struggles with managing their periods, and while at work, I hear stories of period struggles regularly.

    I once was sent to visit an autistic woman to help her re-adjust after being released from jail for a crime she had been falsely accused of. We went to a shopping mall where we shopped for things she needed. While shopping, however, she asked me if we could go shopping for pads since she was staying with a family of guys that did not have any supplies for her and was forced to just use paper towels. She revealed to me that while in jail, there were not enough hygiene supplies for the female inmates, and that women would have to take turns going without supplies and messing up their clothes. We decided after we were done at the mall that we would go and shop for them.

    We looked around for a local place to buy them and found a gas station. I then realized why I had been asked to shop with her–she not only needed them, she also needed assistance with buying them. (Back in high school, my female friends educated me on how to purchase menstrual supplies, knowledge I shared to her.) I had to help her identify the types of pads she needed, and found the type that suited her needs. We then took the pads and carried them to the checkout. We looked around and discovered that she was the only girl in the gas station, and we had to wait in line behind four other guys. Those guys gave us all dirty looks as both of us, carrying boxes of pads, waited patiently in line to buy them. She and I couldn’t care less, however. I did what I felt was right, and she needed help purchasing them.

    Finally, the cashier rung us up, I paid for her supplies, and we carried them, now hidden in bags, back to a place where we waited and she was then picked up by someone who lived where she was staying.

    Yes, some people get upset. Me–I don’t, and I didn’t care if anyone judged me at that station.

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