First, a show of hands: how many of you here have had kidney stones? Thank you. Remember how painful it was? Remember the sensation of every single cell in your kidney trying to implode and explode at the same time? Remember dragging yourself into the ER, begging for Demerol, morphine, a gun to the head, anything to stop the pain? Oh, and a bucket too, please, because all of that pain had you bringing up everything you’d ever eaten, along with any meals your ancestors may have had going back to the dawn of humanity.
One of my clearest memories is lying in a hospital bed in a Demerol haze with the kindly male doctor telling me that the women who have endured both kidney stones and childbirth have told him the stones hurt worse than labor. And I started laughing my ass off. Labor, I announced, must be a piece of fucking cake, then, because as spectacular as the pain from the stones was, they weren’t quite as bad as my menstrual cramps.
I used to miss two or three days of school per month. It is very hard to study while vomiting from intense pain. My class counselor was unfortunately male, and never could understand how bad it could get. My friend Patrick, dear friend to women everywhere, suggested I explain it to him with the following demonstration: I should take him into the gym, lay him spread-eagled on the hardwood floor with its concrete base, and hit him in the balls with a sledgehammer. Repeatedly. For 72 hours.
(I can see you men in the audience wincing. Good. Now you know.)
Aunty Flow has been the bane of my existence for decades. Things have gotten minutely better over the years – I now only have to endure kidney-stone level pain for several hours – but the emotional fallout has gotten much worse. If the world is ending, if I’m never going to be capable of happiness ever again and everything that happens reduces me to helpless tears or ungovernable rage, I don’t even have to look at the calendar. I know what time of the month it is.
So you can imagine how I felt when Always maxi pads started their “Have a Happy Period” campaign. If I’d had the responsible person in the room with me when I first saw one of those Polly-fucking-anna commercials, I would have strangled him with my bare hands while slamming his head into my TV. To add insult to injury, the fuckers printed that slogan right on the pads. There’s nothing like having a burst of homicidal rage every time you open a feminine hygeine product.
All of this is by way of introducing Wendi Aarons, who wrote an open letter to the stupid fuckers responsible for this outrage. She says everything I ever wanted to say. I reproduce her letter in its entirety here, and absolutely encourage you to visit her blog – the rapier wit she displays here is not an isolated occurrence brought on by menstrual rage syndrome. Not much can make me laugh on the first day of Flow’s visit, but she did. For that, and for the following, I thank her profusely.
Dear Mr. Thatcher,
I have been a loyal user of your Always maxi pads for over 20 years, and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core™ or Dri-Weave™ absorbency, I’d probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I’d certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can’t tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there’s a little F-16 in my pants.
Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from “the curse”? I’m guessing you haven’t. Well, my “time of the month” is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I’ll be transformed into what my husband likes to call “an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.” Isn’t the human body amazing?
As brand manager in the feminine-hygiene division, you’ve no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers’ monthly visits from Aunt Flo. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it’s a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend’s testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey’s Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy! The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in capri pants. Which brings me to the reason for my letter.
Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: “Have a Happy Period.”
Are you fucking kidding me?
What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness—actual smiling, laughing happiness—is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you’re some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything “happy” about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlúa and lock yourself in your house just so you don’t march down to the local Walgreens armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory. For the love of God, pull your head out, man. If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn’t it make more sense to say something that’s actually pertinent, like “Put Down the Hammer” or “Vehicular Manslaughter Is Wrong”? Or are you just picking on us?
Sir, please inform your accounting department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flexi-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullshit. And that’s a promise I will keep. Always.