Have you ever felt socially oppressed by your tampons? If so, you may be a proponent of feminism’s newest buzzed-about hashtag: #freebleeding. Before this goes any further I would like to warn anyone reading that this may get a little gross.
You may have already heard of it. This hashtag represents a rising movement which involves the forgoing of tampons and other feminine hygiene products to just let Mother Nature do her thing. Girls have proclaimed that using tampons is another aspect of patriarchal culture that is being used to oppress women and to make them feel ashamed of their femininity. Many activists of the movement believe that these products were invented by men to make women feel that their menstrual cycles are unnatural or unclean and that the products themselves are made to “inadvertently rape” women during their time of the month as a form of punishment. They feel oppressed by the products and, in turn, refuse to buy them and publicly encourage others to do the same.
This movement is making waves in the realm of radical feminism. The idea of defying the patriarchy has almost snuffed out the initial goals for equality and representation of women in a generally male-dominated world. While it may seem like a bold stance against male-oriented consumer culture, it may be causing more damage than it’s preventing. According to an article on the DailyDot, the hashtag is actually a hoax created by male 4chan users who aim to attack feminism in all its forms. These users have been spamming social media with fake accounts and promoting the hashtag to the point where it began trending on Twitter. Similar to the #bikinibridge hashtag from earlier this year, #freebleeding is actually a prime example of how the patriarchy operates. While female activists are triumphantly embracing this movement with all their hearts, the men (boys) behind the façade are laughing at how easily fooled these “feminazis” are. They tried and succeeded to control at least part of the feminist population and broadcast their naïveté all over the Internet.
While their commitment to their cause is commendable, their resolution in their beliefs was transparent. Participation in this movement was more or less defiance for the sake of defiance. The very acts designed to defy the patriarchy were in fact invented by the patriarchy. These girls lost respect from many fellow feminists and probably ruined half of their wardrobes. Also, they should know that their fellow supporters may have been men under a false persona created solely to criticize them. The way the 4chan users were referring to feminists and the movement in general was insanely disrespectful and disgusting, to put it lightly. On its own, #freebleeding could be construed as a legitimate concept up for debate in feminist culture, especially radical feminist culture. While it may be possible by some stretch of the imagination to make a case for this, one should still consider the origins of the movement and the ideas that spurred its creation.