“an early example of someone taking @tampon_club needs into account!”
Lord Nuffield is the Nuffield of Nuffield Hospitals and the William Morris of Morris Minors. Nuffield Place is his old home, which is now preserved by the National Trust for people to visit and find out about the things he did, including his contributions to the war effort during World War II.
“Tampon Club is just a bunch of women leaving tampons and sanitary towels in their workplace toilets, so that they’re available when required. No more walking back to your locker to get out a tampon, no more sneaking one up your sleeve; tampons in the loo when you need one. Simple as that.” —tampon.club
So that’s how I came to be here:
“Tampon Club is a remarkably slick example of community self organization. Founded and maintained by ‘a shadowy cabal of menstruating women’” —core77
I think the stand turned out to be a pretty good approximation of the sketch Alice sent to me beforehand:
Conversations at Tech City IWD 2015
Talking about tampons and periods is a bit embarrassing for many people (including us!). So there were lots of slightly sheepish half-smiles as visitors approached the stand and asked about Tampon Club. The more succinct my explanation got as the evening went on, the more quickly the sheepishness developed into full-on enthusiasm for the idea.
As well as questions about what Tampon Club is (see above) and isn’t (an organisation or promoting any particular form of sanitary product over any other; the name is just catchy and amusing), several women shared their own stories and ideas. Most empathised with the situation of being ‘caught out’ at work and the embarrassment, awkwardness, and inconvenience that can ensue.
Others wondered about what could be done in the same vein in other contexts. For example, one woman mentioned that one of the most difficult things for homeless women is dealing with their periods. Another woman talked about how she and her sister had gone to stay with relatives in a small town in India when they were teenagers and had been shocked by how women there had to make their own sanitary towels from collected old rags bound around cotton.
We also talked a little about the community aspect of Tampon Club. For example, after May and I created the Second Ever Tampon Club in our office last October, some other women in the office contributed a posh soap dispenser and moisturiser alongside. That made me feel so warm and fuzzy about it all that I very nearly bought a pot plant to put in there too!
Alex highlighted the ‘open source’ aspect of setting up Tampon Clubs. It isn’t really a ‘club’ in the conventional sense; it’s more of a ‘thing’ or a ‘movement’. The important thing, though, is that anyone is welcome to set one up using these handy guidelines. If you send in a photo of your Tampon Club, you might get some stickers in return. And that’s it really. It’s pretty straightforward.
Who else was at Tech City IWD 2015?
Between chats with people on the Tampon Club stand, I managed to sneak off to see a few of the other stands. Either side of me were Naomi from Trans*Code promoting their upcoming first UK hackday, and Leillah who co-founded No Scrunchie which is a kind of TripAdvisor site of hairdressers who style hair that isn’t straight Caucasian hair.
I caught up with Claire Rowland and one of her co-authors, Martin Charlier, who were promoting their new O’Reilly book, Designing Connected Things. I also got to chat briefly with Lauren at Zealify where you can get and share reviews of what it’s really like to work at a given company, and with the women behind Articulate Network, a directory of women speakers. Like Tampon Club, all simple ideas addressing a particular problem.
One woman who visited the Tampon Club stand pointed me to this video of 15-year-old Artemis Irvine speaking about Menstruation, Misogyny, and Caitlin Moran in her winning entry for the Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge Grand Final July 2014. It seemed rather appropriate to include here:
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might have seen me use the hashtag #TamponClub*. It began sometime after a few of us ‘Women In Tech’ went to a tech evening event at the awesome new HQ of Twitter UK.
As well as the funky food, the tech talks, and (obvs) the dalek in the foyer, we were impressed by the presence of free sanitary products in the women’s toilets.
Free tampons wasn’t something I’d ever thought about before. Sure, I agree that putting tax on tampons (my shorthand for all sanitary products because, well, it reads funnier) is ridiculous but the idea of justifying giving them away for free just hadn’t crossed my mind.
Then the brilliant Alice Bartlett wrote about how seeing the tampons-in-the-toilet prompted her to do the same at her own workplace. She basically supplied free tampons and towels in the women’s toilets for both her own convenience and for anyone else who needed them.
It’s a great post – everyone should read it (tl;dr imagine if you had to supply your own toilet roll at work…and sometimes you forgot…).
Her post (really, go read it now, I’ll wait for you to get back) sparked a brief conversation on Twitter. Other women loved the idea and proposed starting community Tampon Clubs in their own workplaces.
@maygg and I decided to start a Tampon Club in the nearest toilets to our desks (DE3, for anyone au fait with the IBM Hursley site).
Tampon Club at IBM Hursley
It took longer than it should’ve but, as of this Wednesday: ta-da!
If you use the DE3 women’s toilets, let us know what you think. Please use the supplies and feel free to contribute if you want to.
If you use other women’s toilets around Hursley and you want to do the same, let us know!
Tampon Club response
As it’s only our first week, we have no idea how it’ll go. But we’ve had a few positive comments already, including (I hope they don’t mind me quoting them anonymously):
“great idea in the ladies!…had a box in my drawer so I’ve added it to the collection”
“thanks for the new additions to the ladies loos – really great idea – I don’t know how many times I have come in having been caught out and don’t want to carry a big box in full view from the canteen!!”
We’re keeping tabs on cost and stock so I’ll report back after a few weeks.
*The girl who tweeted a #TamponClub photo of herself with a bunch of tampons stuffed in her mouth is nothing to do with us. 🙂