Tuesday, 14 February 2017

TAMPONS - Put Them In Public Toilets!

Once upon a time there was a girl. This girl was working in a big office of a big company in a big city. One day she was sat in the big office in a big meeting when she felt the familiar but oh so unwelcome tell tale signs that something wicked this way was coming. It wasn’t an evil stepmother, a scary giant or a wicked witch. It was something much worse. The twisting knot in her stomach and dull ache in her head could only mean one thing, her period was about to arrive. She hastily made her excuses and ran to the ladies room, trying to keep her back to the wall just in case. She locked herself in the cubicle, pulled down her pants and realised that it was too late. She frantically looked in her handbag, in all of the pockets, practically tipping the thing upside down. But she could not find what she was looking for. There goes another pair of pants to the trash. She had no tampons, no pants and now no dignity….shit.

In March 2016 David Cameron confirmed that the government would abolish the “tampon tax”. Campaigners argued against the luxury tax that was placed on tampons, some rather cleverly taking to Twitter to express how luxurious they thought tampons were. Obviously all us gals want for a pamper sesh is a glass of wine, a face mask and a bit of cotton wool between our legs to stem the blood flow, so glamorous. I could go on for a long time about how ludicrous the tampon tax was, but what I really want to talk about why there are not tampons in public bathrooms. The country has decided that this item is no longer a luxury. This took a lot longer than it should have, and no one should have thought otherwise to begin with, but we’re finally in agreement. So why are public bathrooms not stocked with tampons? I am sure that there are many girls out there whom can relate to the above story. Yes periods can be regular and they can be warning signs a few days in advance. But sometimes we just ain’t that lucky and a period can creep up on us in the most unfortunate of places. 

One of my friends had her first period come at the end of a school day. She went to the ladies room before catching the bus home to find out she’d started her period…in a skirt. With no tampons in the bathroom she had to grab a bit of tissue and endure two uncomfortable and anxiety ridden bus rides home. I know another girl who woke up to find her period had started when she was in bed with her friends. I even know one unlucky girl who was at a carnival wearing white trousers when her period came. Mother nature is not someone who can be controlled or sometimes even predicted. She can capture you completely unawares and unprepared. Every day there will likely be one girl or woman experiencing a situation like these. We could save ourselves a lot of embarrassment and discomfort if toilets just stocked the essentials, it is not a big ask.

Toilet paper is widely accepted as being necessary for public bathrooms. No one would ever bother to dispute that fact. But how on earth did we manage to draw a line between toilet roll and tampons. Both are for natural bodily functions that cannot be prevented. Imagine for a moment that you had to remember to take toilet roll with you wherever you went. Out on a date, or to work. Now imagine that you forgot to take it with you but you just couldn’t hold it any more. Except I feel tampons are even more essential as the problem doesn’t exactly go away once you leave the bathroom.

It’s not just the fact that sometimes women are not readily armed with tampons. Even when we have them to hand things are not always plain sailing. I work in a busy office, I sit in the furthest seat away from the ladies room and I sit next to two men. Whenever I am on my period I have to slyly remove my tampon from my bag, which can be hard given that most of them are wrapped in the noisiest fricking wrappers ever (seriously, what genius designed that?). Then I have to put it in my pocket unnoticed or sneakily place it in my sleeve. Let me tell you, that walk seems three times as long when I have a tampon tucked up my sleeve, on edge that it’s gonna drop out in front of everyone.

I am not ashamed of having my period, but that hardly means I want to parade it around in front of a room full of people. Just like I don’t want to advertise anything else that goes on behind my cubicle door. Some things are just private. I wonder how many men would be comfortable walking that long path with a toilet roll in hand. I know there are some women who don’t give a damn and will walk to the loo with a box of tampons firmly in hand and not a care in the world. However I also know there are many women who are not so carefree and who would feel extremely self conscious if everyone knew they were on their period. I think we deserve the right to a bit of discretion if we so please.

So since we’re all in agreement that tampons sure as hell ain’t a luxury, and we can all appreciate that mother nature rocks up whenever she damn well pleases, can we now put tampons in public toilets? Can us girls get our happily ever after?


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Meat Free January

For a few years now I have been toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian, or at the very least cutting down on meat. I am still undecided on whether or not I agree with the idea of eating meat. But what I definitely disagree with is the factory farming of meat. The mass production of meat is an ugly truth that most of us, including me, have chosen to ignore. I’ve seen so many horrific videos and yet I somehow manage to shove them deep down into the depths of my unconscious whenever a juicy burger appears under my nose. 

My sister turned vegetarian a couple of years ago. She has the odd meat cheat now and then, usually just for the Christmas dinner. However for the most part she stands firm in her vegetarian ways. Seeing how she has managed to do this with ease inspired me to give it a go myself. I have tried to give up lots of things throughout my life, including smoking and chocolate. What always works best for me is setting an end date. As soon as I try to give something up forever I cave within a couple of days. Every year I give something up for lent and I have not failed one yet. When I first wanted to give up smoking I did Stoptober. So when I heard that people attempted meat-free January I thought this would be the perfect time to test the vegetarian waters. 

So on the first day of 2017 I vowed to renounce meat for the whole of January. No more full english breakfasts, no more Sunday roasts and no more (cue sobbing) burritos. Firstly I was kind of at a loss for what to eat for three meals a day without meat. How many meat-free meals could there be? After doing a lot of research I discovered there’s actually a decent variety of ways to chop and cook vegetables. A few of my favourite dishes that have been added to my regular household menu include vegetable pie, vegetable tartlets and stuffed peppers. What I found was that a lot of my favourite meals tasted mostly the same. For example, curry is one of the most cooked meals at my flat. Mainly because the boyfriend would eat it every day if he could and there’s only so often you can say no. But most of the flavour from this comes through the sauce with the herbs and the spices. So although I had switched the chicken for sweet potato the taste wasn’t all that different.

What I struggled with the most was eating out. To be honest this was something I was expecting. I knew there were less vegetarian options out there than meat options, but I don’t think I fully appreciated that until it directly impacted me. I went to one place that advertised itself as having a full vegetarian menu upon request, which turned out to be a lie. This left me with three vegetarian starters and no mains to choose from. Thank god for chips! But I don’t think it’s been an entirely bad thing. I have tried several new and delicious dishes which I would otherwise not have given a second thought to, and I have also saved  a bit of money (most of the time the vegetarian option is cheaper). Another positive is that I can spend forever looking through a menu trying to decide what to eat, changing my mind every ten seconds. With a smaller range of options this becomes less of a problem. Extremely useful for someone as indecisive as myself.

I actually found the whole experience a lot easier than I thought it would be. I figured I would be obsessing about meat within the first week and would end up standing with my hands and nose pressed against the glass of Chilangos (the burrito place near my work). Alas the month flew by in a haze of parsnips and carrots without a craving in sight. As it was easier than I thought I have decided to carry this on into February. I almost slipped up the other day when I went into Subway. I keep forgetting that I’m trialling vegetarianism, I was actually about to give my standard order of Italian BMT before I made my excuses and hurried away. Right now I feel like I may eat meat in the future, if it is from a butchers where the animals had a decent life. But for now, while I find it easy and I’m still unsure where I stand moral-wise, I am going to stick to being a vegetarian.

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