This is a CupAware party, designed to get women together to talk about menstrual cups. It couldn’t be more different from the last bit of menstrual education I received, when I was 12 and the “Tampax lady” came into my school in her navy blazer and gave out freebies. The evening feels more like a hen do, except that most of us are meeting for the first time and the colourful silicone objects scattered across the room are not sex toys. The goal is to break the taboo around discussing menstruation, and to raise awareness of period products beyond the tampons and sanitary towels that dominate the market. Reid starts by asking a simple but revealing set of questions: how old were you when you first got your period? Who did you tell? How did you feel? The exercise, like the entire workshop, is enlightening. Responses cover everything from difficult relationships with parents, to gender identity issues, to the ludicrous lies we told our friends (guilty). There is something very liberating about sharing period stories, the woman next to me says: “And the more people talk, the more everyone wants to talk. It is like the sexual liberation of the 60s. We are having a menstrual liberation.”
Reid is part of a new wave of period activists, determined to challenge the status quo of our flows. Despite being part of the lives of half the global population, there has been little innovation or big thinking around periods in 80 years – since the tampon was invented. Recently, however, there has been a flurry of activity, from campaigns to petitions, product launches to new advertising imagery.