Today I want to tell you about a
small experiment of mine. It was something that I had been wanting to do for a while.
So just after lunch today I set out to tick this little test off my list. With a stomach full of scrumptious canteen food I walked into the small
convenience store at my office campus brimming with employees. It
was lunch time hence the rush. Some buying chocolates, few groceries while a few others cosmetics.
But I was there to buy something else. Something that I needed for my experiment
and for myself as well. I was there to buy sanitary pads. Yes, you read that
right. Sanitary pads. Something worn by a woman during menstruation as defined
in Wikipedia. Uncomfortable? You shouldn't be.
Moving on. While in the queue for
billing I began to notice reactions. My experiment had already begun. It was time
for me to start noting the results. My first subjects were the men in line behind
me. They appeared embarrassed seeing this purple and green pack. But I, the one
holding it, was not. Their eyes implored me to hide it. They felt awkward seeing a woman hold something that was essential for
her health and hygiene. Why? Beats me. But I guess that’s how they were raised
to feel. There’s sadly a taboo surrounding periods and sanitary pads in our
My next set of subjects had the same
reaction as well. And these were women, thankfully only a small number out of
the many in queue, but women nonetheless. So the same response from women, even though from only a
few. Regrettable I know. And these men and women, mind you, were engineering
graduates in the least. Educated? Nevertheless, I being me kept holding the packet just
as I would hold any other packet at a store. Too bad if that made them
A slight context on what happened
next. In India whenever we buy sanitary napkins it is first wrapped in newspapers
and then put in a polythene bag to be carried home hidden from the rest of the
world. It is almost as if we are doing something wrong by buying or using it.
So in this store too after I had paid the money, the woman at the counter
picked up a newspaper to wrap the packet. But I stopped her. At that of-course
she shot back a confused look at me. Note, just a confused look. But I think she
understood, at some level perhaps, and gave me the packet without looking at me
Now the next part of my experiment was
to begin. I had to walk from the store to my building, up to my cubicle through
a floor full of employees. I wanted to see how these ‘educated’ people would
react seeing me walk unapologetically with the sanitary pads pack in my hand. I
didn't have very high hopes of course based on the opinions on various
socio-cultural issues shared by this very ‘educated lot’ on e-bulletin board of
the organization where I work. But then maybe this experiment would prove me
Remember there is no shame in buying or carrying a packet of sanitary pads.
As I walked, I saw two women walk
by casting critical glances first at me and then at the packet I was holding.
Maybe they wanted me to rush back to the store and get a bag to cover it? But I
kept walking. Further along there stood three men, all in their late 40s I
think, who stopped discussing whatever it was they were discussing for a second
or so as I passed by. This because I didn't cover the packet which evidently
they thought was meant to be concealed. Perhaps they felt uneasy. In this way a
couple of more stunned glances later I entered the building I work from and got
into the lift. There was just another woman in the lift with me and she seemed
fine with me holding the pack of sanitary pads. I was so happy when she didn't
look at me in a manner asking ‘What the
hell are you doing?’
Now the last leg of my experiment
was on as I began to walk through the floor up to my desk. And mind you I walked real slow here. Except for a man who
kept looking at the packet without batting his eyelids nobody seemed to care
what I was carrying and how I was carrying it. Perhaps he was trying to
figure out the same thing as those before him. Why had I not concealed it?
I think my experiment was a success
in many ways. I had not anticipated it to be so positive because contrary to what
I had expected only a small fraction of people appeared troubled, agitated and awkward
at seeing the packet. It was a pleasant surprise I must tell you. This because
most of the times education fails to enlighten our minds. Maybe many had not
noticed the packet itself. But if I know anything from experience I can say that
out of all the people that noticed me carrying the sanitary pads packet only a small percentage reacted negatively. That in India is a good thing don’t you think?
You know I feel we as a society need
to grow up. So women use pads? What’s dirty in that? What’s in it to be ashamed
of? Why do we need to hide the pads when we purchase them from stores? Remember there is no shame in buying or carrying a
packet of sanitary pads. It is essential to a woman’s health. Don’t you think
Tell me what did you think about my
experiment? What are your views on it? Would you cover the sanitary pads packet
next time you buy it at a supermarket or your local drug store? Would you?