As a freshman in high school, civil engineering senior Natalie Weston was overwhelmed with embarrassment while playing in a basketball game, all because of something natural — her period.
“It’s just an instance of people not understanding the surrounding stigma that comes from menstruating the first time,” said Weston, a current active member of the Texas Orange Jackets. “I feel comfortable talking about this today I think, a lot, thanks to Orange Jackets.”
Texas Orange Jackets Fall 2016 Tap Class hosted a discussion at Space24Twenty Wednesday evening on the stigma of women’s menstruation. The event, “Let’s Talk, Period.” is a part of Project Period, a two-week initiative to give out free pads and tampons in high-traffic campus buildings. Project Period began because pads and tampons are taxed as a luxury item.
The event started with several Orange Jackets members sharing their stories about their period. Afterward, students were divided into groups where they could discuss their stories in a smaller setting.
Melissa Hall, Fall 2016 Tap Class member, said periods are something that is natural for every woman and should be openly discussed.
“My mom tried really hard to tell my sister and I to feel comfortable talking about our periods,” said Hall, an electrical and computer engineering and Plan II junior. “It’s a natural part of life, and I think we should celebrate it instead of stigmatizing it.”
After the discussion, Shannon Cavanagh, UT associate professor of sociology, answered questions from students about period myths and other issues.
“There is nothing to be afraid of by exploring and figuring this out,” Cavanagh said. “It’s empowering, once you feel comfortable about your own body, with your own biological processes.”
Maria Mendez, a journalism and sociology junior, said she came to the event, because she thinks it is important to start deconstructing myths about women’s menstruation.
“From a young age, we need to start talking and teaching about periods differently instead of trying to avoid the talk of a girl getting her period,” Mendez said. “We should be proactive and start talking about it.”
Texas Orange Jackets was founded in 1923, and is the oldest women’s honorary service organization, according to their website. Every year, they host Week of Women, a week-long initiative that seeks to empower women.