Important Conversation Starter – Or Cheap Publicity Stunt?  What Do You Think?

Back in May I did a post where I started out by talking about Spain’s government considering a bill allowing women to take days off work if they are diagnosed by a doctor with severe menstrual pain, with the government footing the bill.

If this happens, Spain would be the first Western European country to support what’s called “menstrual leave.”  But Spain wouldn’t be the first country – a half-dozen other countries have menstrual leave.

None of which, of course, is the U.S.

There are pros and cons around menstrual leave, but as I was researching and writing that post, my attitude was in favor of anything that destigmatized menstruation.

Destigmatize:  To remove associations of shame or disgrace from.

In favor anything that would lessen, and someday eliminate, period shaming.

Period shaming:  A consequence of the social construction of menstruation as an undesirable bodily event 

Shaming by men, shaming by other women, shaming by ourselves.

Anything, I thought.

And I meant it

Until I saw this:

And this:

It’s a breakfast cereal.

The cereal creator is INTIMINA:

And INTIMINA’s website says the company is:

“…a Swedish brand that offers the first and only range of products dedicated exclusively to all aspects of women’s intimate health.  Our mission is to provide a comprehensive collection of products and information for women at every stage of life, from the first menstruation to beyond menopause.”

Here’s their Period Crunch announcement:

So, “INTIMINA Brings Period On The Kitchen Table…”

But INTIMINA does not bring Period Crunch to the kitchen table.

As I learned from reading various articles including this Australian publication:

Period Crunch is not available to buy at your grocery store.

Or online.

Or on the black market.

Or anywhere.

You can, however, send an email “to register your interest in receiving a box of Period Crunch.”

Which I did – more to come on that.

Period Crunch – as I learned from assorted websites – is wheat-based, and “colored with freeze-dried raspberry powder which gives it a fruity flavor.”

And dyes the milk “a distinctive red.”

The box includes conversation starters, and a diagram of the female reproductive system for people to identify where the uterus is located because, says the INTIMINA announcement:

“This follows research from INTIMINA that reveals 82% of people cannot correctly identify where the uterus is.”

I find that 82% hard to believe, unless the only people surveyed were men.

Anyone with a uterus who’s experienced menstrual pain – sometime excruciating, debilitating pain – knows exactly where in the body that pain is coming from…

Month after month, year in and year out.

And to emphasize INTIMINA’s point – in case you haven’t picked up on this:

“Every piece of the statement-making cereal resembles a uterus and has been released by INTIMINA as part of our campaign to encourage more dialogue about menstrual health.”

Here’s a close-up of pieces of Period Crunch side-by-side with an illustration of a human uterus:

It appears that the Period Crunch cereal pieces include some other organs besides the uterus, but I won’t quibble.

What there are no images of – from INTIMINA or elsewhere – is the cereal in a bowl with milk dyed “a distinctive red.”

I won’t quibble with that, either.

Here’s my quibble:

I know I said I was in favor of anything

But this is not it.

Because – predictably – there’s been a negative response.

Here’s a sampling from Facebook:

Here’s a sampling from Instagram:

Here’s a sampling from YouTube:

All these YouTube videos were recorded by men.

Every video is negative, with comments including “disgusting,” “make womb for breakfast” and “Rather have some Painful Rectal Itch cereal.”

These videos have gotten thousands of views.

These social media platforms do nothing to – as the INTIMINA announcement suggests:

“… increase the visibility of menstrual wellbeing across the world, normalize conversations about menstrual health, tackle stigma and bias, and raise awareness of intimate health conditions.”

Instead, these videos and posts and a number of the online articles I read contribute to the negativity around periods, and having conversations about them.

So – will I be receiving a box of that uterus-shaped, wheat-based, colored-with-freeze-dried-raspberry-powder-which-gives-it-a-fruity-flavor-and-turns-the-milk-red cereal?

INTIMINA’s emailed response said, in part:

“Thank you so much for your interest in receiving a box of Period Crunch!  A limited number of boxes have been created and due to such a high demand, we no longer have any boxes left.  However, if any become available, we will be sure to let you know. 

“We have been overwhelmed with such a positive response with requests coming in from all over the world and are thrilled with the excitement that has been created around Period Crunch.” 

First:  I’m sure INTIMINA “no longer has any boxes left.”

And that’s because there were no boxes to start with.  The cereal box and bits could be easily created with graphic design software. 

And – though I said I wouldn’t quibble about this – why, pray tell, isn’t the milk turning red in this image?

Second:  I’m sure INTIMINA will let me know “if any become available.” 

In the meantime, where all those fortunate people who created that “high demand” and did indeed receive a box of Period Crunch?  Where are their online comments?  Where are the pictures of them slurping up cereal and smiling with delight?

Third:  I’m sure INTIMINA is “thrilled.”

Thrilled – because INTIMINA got national and international attention, which no doubt led more visitors to their website, and no doubt led to more sales of their “range of products dedicated exclusively to all aspects of women’s intimate health.”

Products, which appear to be priced from around $11 to well over $100.

Thrilled – because their cheap publicity stunt worked.

And that’s what get my vote:

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