I’m reading Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking” (love her, loving the book, will write more when I finish it) and this is how the book starts.
“Who’s got a tampon? I just got my period, I will loudly announce to nobody in particular in a women’s bathroom in a San Francisco restaurant, or to a co-ed dressing room of a music festival in Prague, or to the unsuspecting gatherers in a kitchen at a party in Sydney, Munich or Cincinnati.
“Invariably, across the world, I have seen and heard the rustling of female hands through backpacks and purses, until the triumphant moment when a stranger fishes one out with a kind smile. No money is ever exchanged. The unspoken universal understanding is:
“Today, it is my turn to take the tampon.
“Tomorrow it shall be yours.
“There is a constant, karmic tampon circle. It also exists, I’ve found, with Kleenex, cigarettes, and ballpoint pens.
“I’ve often wondered: are there women who are just TOO embarrassed to ask? Women who would rather just roll up a huge wad of toilet paper into their underwear rather than dare to ask a room full of strangers for a favor? There must be. But not me. Hell no. I am totally not afraid to ask. For anything.
“I am SHAMELESS.”
Now firstly – how’s that for a cracking start for a brand new book? I am totally hooked.
But equally, she instantly challenged me, because Amanda darling, I am one of those people who never ask. I have not, and will not, ever ask a room full of strangers for a tampon. Rather than being a ‘wadder’ though, I prefer to focus on always being prepared – all month long – so I never EVER get caught out. Preparation in Asia is also critical, because many countries in this region do not embrace the tampon, preferring external options instead.
But it’s not that I have a problem being asked for a tampon or sharing the goods with a woman in need. It’s not even that I’m embarrassed to ask. It’s just that I don’t like to make a public hoo-hah about being on the ‘blob’. Being ‘up on the blocks’ is my personal torment and I’m just not a sharer of that. I’d also generally prefer not knowing when others are experiencing the same. I don’t know why I feel this way.
Is it part of my Catholic heritage with all of that shame and guilt about the body? Is it the way my mother handled the puberty years (not very well, a lot of embarrassment for me)? Or perhaps the fact I HATED the whole “becoming a woman” shite in my teenage years and despised how people stopped seeing me and started seeing my tits? I didn’t find it easy ‘coming of age,’ going from a runty 12 year old body to a set of DD cup chest puppies. Too much attention came with that. Attention I didn’t want and wasn’t ready for.
It took me a long time to get comfortable with the whole woman thing, but I’ve always admired women who grew into their bodies completely comfortably. That’s brilliant, and I wish it could be me, but it’s not. It’s probably also the reason I’ve always surrounded myself with women who are like that, because I love and admire them.
But getting back to being ‘on the blob.’ Most people around me growing up in Australia were probably quite similar to me and I don’t remember a lot of talking about “that time of the month.” Then again, maybe they just knew not to talk about it in front of me? Then I moved to London, and in the early weeks of my four-plus-year stint, a woman came out of the toilet and said “I’m on.”
I replied “you’re on what?”
“You know, I’m on.”
Still blank here love. But quickly worked out “I’m on” can be loosely translated as:
“I’m up on the blocks” – husband favorite
“The painters are in” – another husband favorite
“Flying the Japanese flag” – no one in particular
“The red tide has arrived” – yep another hubby fav. He’s awesome with women’s stuff and buys my tampons happily, annoyingly always the correct ones too
“Aunt Flo has arrived” – used by others, but never me
Care to share your favorite descriptor in the comments?
(BTW if you’re interested in a mildly amusing tampon ad, the Russians did a pretty good job here. The lady in white is always better prepared at period time right?)
I have to say, of all the places I’ve been in the world, it is the British women that come up trumps for being the crassest bitches on the planet. Crass in a marvellous way, and I discovered I paled into insignificance alongside British ladies. That was a surprise for me, due to the British reputation for being demure, and because I did have a reputation for being a crass bitch myself… but never when it came to ‘lady stuff.’ I had my limits.
For whatever reason, I’m just not one of those “sharing the sisterhood moments” kind of girl. My mate Lorna asked me to watch her birth video. “Fuck off. Why the hell would I want to watch that? You think that will encourage me to have one myself?” I also couldn’t think of anything worse than having a gaggle of gal-pals present during my two birth moments, and my mum especially was not welcome. My husband was there, but only at the top-end first time round. Second time he actually delivered Jax. I got over myself a bit by that point.
There’s a video somewhere – couldn’t find it – where one of the ladies in the Dixie Chicks is giving birth and the whole band is in the room. I loved them for that, but it is never, ever my bag. I often wonder if I’ve been men in former lives, because the whole women’s thing – aka The Red Tent – nah, not me.
But I do love women like Amanda Palmer. Sharing love. Sharing art. Sharing being human. Sharing a positive message about powerful sexuality. Sharing femininity in her own way. The world needs a lot more women like that. She certainly inspires me.
Great book, read it! But if you have already, what did you think?
Yours, without the bollocks