Small Steps Beget Big Change – Why I support Always in their campaign to remove the Venus symbol from packaging

CW: Rape

Proctor and Gamble has vowed to remove the Venus symbol from Always sanitary towel packaging. Production of packaging without the symbol will commence December 2019, with full distribution planned for February 2020.

In a statement, Always said:

“For 35 years we have championed women and girls, and we will continue to do so,

“We’re also committed to diversity and inclusion, and after hearing from many people across genders and age groups, we realised that not everyone who has a period and needs to use a pad identifies as female.”

The success of the campaign has been celebrated by some on social media for sensitivity towards the mental health of a members of the trans/non-binary community.

However, some cis women have claimed to feel as if their gender is being erased. There has been an outcry about “crazy liberals” and my personal favourite, “snowflakes” (which always makes me think about Piers Morgan, and the irony of him using it to describe anyone with a culturally sensitive opinion. Despite the fact he spent a fortnight crying publicly over a sausage roll).

The way I see it is almost ebulliently simple. Society, the theories that curate it, and all things produced by it are kinetic. Every bill passed in parliament and every technological advance is to surge society forward purposefully and meet the democratic needs of the people.

Until 1918, women were denied the right to vote. Marital rape was legal until 1991. In the UK mediums of hatred and a general lack of understanding results in people of the trans community being attacked in the streets, at work, or being denied proper medical treatment due to a lack of resources.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with sanitary towel packaging. Let me explain.

Transgender men may still need to purchase and use sanitary products, which could cause a great deal of additional stress to an already difficult personal situation.

Photo via PinkNews

Most cis women will go all their lives with little to no awareness of what kind of imagery is printed on their sanitary packaging (Let’s face it, we’re still slinking to the toilets with our sanitary products tucked into the insides of our sleeves, anyways). This is a privilege not afforded to communities we should be protecting.

Privilege is a word at the mercy of a semantic shift that, to some, leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The general understanding of the word is it means to have a “special right”, an idea that sits unfavourably with the masses.

In cultural cases like this one, it means that one group, more often a minority, will have a more negative experience of something that otherwise goes unnoticed, simply by virtue of who they are.

The privilege to cognitively ignore/remain unaware of imagery used to decorate disposable sanitary packaging is awarded to cis women. Removing the Venus symbol doesn’t equate to cis erasure, and certainly doesn’t remove any space that exists for womanhood to be celebrated.

It merely endeavours to create a space for non-beneficiaries of the privilege to step forward and be seen.

Many transgender and non-binary people are misgendered on a daily basis. Last year, two in five trans individuals were victims of hate crimes. One could argue that the problem transcends the sanitary wear packaging debacle. I argue that successful civil campaigns to companies that manufacture products traditionally marketed towards cis women, is a showcase to not only this generation of trans and non-binary people, but also the next.

It’s a momentous nod to these communities that loudly says “we are listening”, and whispers “others will listen too”. A move into a more inclusive arena, encouraging future generations to recognise their rights and speak up about the way the operation of a largely cis-populated world changes the way they see themselves. The onus of this change breathes life into future possibilities for change.

Guest blog by Robyn Harris

Featured image by @makedaisychains

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