In April, I had the opportunity to do a week-long training at the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine on teaching yoga to seniors. Of the approximately 30 participants, I was far and away the youngest. Everyone in the course was a woman, and most were menopausal or post menopausal. We were together for 8 hours a day for a week – lots of time to get to know each other. From social work professors, to “post-corporate” women seeking a more fulfilling vocation, my diverse bunch of classmates shared my interest in embodied spirituality. Sarah and I were still in the early phase of envisioning our project, so I picked the brains of my classmates. Almost no one in the group had heard of menstrual cups, but they were forthcoming with stories of their experiences with different kinds of menstruation products: the messiness of their experiment with sponges in the ‘70s, their concerns about the health dangers of tampons, and of course, the limitations of pads for people who love to move their bodies. They were excited about the environmental, health, and economic advantages of menstrual cups. Many wanted to suggest a menstrual cup to a daughter, niece, or friend. One woman was inspired to ask her local cooperative grocery store to begin stocking cups! At that point in the evolution in my thoughts on the project, I thought, “this is not my demographic.” Clearly, I was wrong. Whatever stage of life a woman is in, she has a personal connection to issues surrounding menstruation, and can be an advocate for more sustainable ways of dealing with our periods.
One conversation started with me telling a group of women about menstrual cups. Soon we were talking about dangerous chemicals in commonly used toiletries, and women were trading tips on where to find ratings on which products are safe. Thirty minutes later we ended up talking about social justice, the economy, and taxation. I got really excited about the trip! So often, conversations with strangers and new friends can be superficial. Maybe by starting conversations with people (in whatever age/gender demographic) about this issue that we care about, we can inspire reflection and action on other issues of social and environmental justice.