Members of feminist organization Quiet Grrrl met Tuesday evening in the Indiana Memorial Union Maple Room to discuss their upcoming project, #PadsAgainstSexism. Members will post sanitary pads around campus with messages calling attention to rape culture and cultural perceptions of women’s bodies.
“The goal is that it will be really shocking to people and so at the very least it will start a new conversation about rape culture and how devastating it is,” Everett said. “Especially on this campus, and the administration’s inability to address rape culture,” Everett said.
The #PadsAgainstSexism initiative originated in Germany, where a woman named Elonë posted menstrual pads in public places like train stations. Pads had messages written on them like “Imagine if men were as disgusted by rape as they were by periods.” Quiet Grrrl members decided at the meeting to replicate this message on pads distributed throughout campus, but replacing “men” with “people.”
“I think it’s really, really important to bring to attention the fact that society views women in very strange ways,” IU graduate and member Katelynn Dockerty said. “The University really struggles to handle sexual assault culture and cases of sexual assault. It’s important to me that we raise awareness about that.”
Everett said the idea for the initiative is to highlight double standards set for female bodies.
“As a culture, we think women are gross, but we also want to objectify them,” Everett said.
The #PadsAgainstSexism demonstration will go hand in hand with a drive by Quiet Grrrl to collect feminine hygiene products. These will be donated to Middle Way House or another homeless shelter. Members will create collection boxes to be placed in central locations like dorms.
Senior Savannah Lynch said the donation of feminine hygiene products has a potentially large impact on the Bloomington community.
“These products are expensive to buy but really important because 50 percent of the population need them,” Lynch said.
Quiet Grrrl member Emily Buis said the group hopes for the project to take place during warmer weather when more people are spending time outdoors.
Everett said she wants to make use of social media and the hashtag #PadsAgainstSexism to raise awareness of and organize discussion about the initiative.
“We’ve also talked about the possibility of hosting a discussion in conjunction — maybe with, like, a film screening or some speakers,” Everett said. “We just need this demonstration as the initial shock value to bring it to people’s attention and then from there do a lot more.”
Lynch said she thinks exposure to the #PadsAgainstSexism movement is very important for college students.
“I think it’s especially a potent message for a college audience because I think there’s such a culture of objectification and hyper-sexualization of female and non-binary bodies on campus,” Lynch said. “And it really focuses how we are culturally shaping the message around women’s bodies even when we are so disgusted by something as normal as periods.”
Everett said she hopes the effects of the project are widely felt by the campus community.
“We want everyone to be affected by it, at the very least in terms of rethinking how desperate we are to get people talking about it,” Everett said.
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