Making the case for menstrual equity

Linzy Rosen '22 is a leader in getting people to talk about - and take action on - the challenges around menstruating

group of young people holding signs promoting menstrual equity at a demonstrationPhoto/Stephanie Houten

A demonstration on National Period Day in October in Boston's City Hall Plaza drew supporters of all ages and genders.

One day when Linzy Rosen '22 was back in high school, she bled through her clothes in class because she did not have any menstrual products on hand. As embarrassing as that day was, she was grateful that it was only one moment of her life. She realized that many individuals experience that humiliation every month. Channeling all of her emotions from that day, Linzy decided to start a branch of PERIOD@Brandeis.

PERIOD is a nonprofit organization founded in 2016 that is focused on ending menstrual inequity. What began as a nonprofit centered on service work now boasts 400 branches globally and has spearheaded ‘The Menstrual Movement’ to make menstrual products accessible to everybody regardless of income, living arrangement, or gender identity. Some of their latest efforts include advocating to repeal the ‘tampon tax’ that is present in 35 out of the 50 states, as well as lobbying for the IAM Bill in Massachusetts, that if passed would make menstrual products free at all public schools, prisons, and homeless shelters in the Commonwealth.

A woman in red pants and blue blazre applauds next to Linzy Rosen, speaking with microphone in white t-shirt and jeans
Photo/Stephanie Houten

Linzy Rosen '22 (right) spoke at National Period Day in Boston alongside Sasha Goodfriend, president of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women.

“The societal construction of periods is that they’re dirty, gross, and uncomfortable,” Rosen said. In explaining ‘period stigma’ to me, she emphasized that the negativity surrounding menstruation makes it hard to talk about them. And when you can’t discuss something openly, how can you expect to make a change? If you’re unable to afford period products but feel uncomfortable talking about periods, it can be daunting or even impossible to reach out and ask for help. 

Since launching PERIOD@Brandeis just last spring, Linzy has already been successful in starting an important dialogue on campus. “Because [menstrual equity] is a big piece of justice that’s not often discussed, I wanted to give people a space where they can express their passion for it,” Rosen told me. One of the club’s first events last semester was a period product drive. Students donated their extra end-of-semester meal points towards period products sold at Hoot Market, and the drive’s collections were given to the Waltham Community Day Center as well as to Bristol Lodge Homeless Center.

PERIOD@Brandeis also held a screening of the Academy-Award winning Period. End of Sentence., a documentary that highlights menstrual inequity in India, in collaboration with other campus groups including the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA), South Asian Student Association (SASA), and GirlUp. This event featured a presentation by Heller School PhD student Charlotte Powley whose research focuses on menstrual management and equity in schools.Linzy’s most impactful contribution to the menstrual equity movement so far was the work she put into the National Period Day Rally that took place in Boston on October 19.

She started organizing the event this past July along with a small team composed of other college and high school students from the Greater Boston Area. Aimed at educating people about ‘period poverty’ and breaking down the taboo stigma surrounding menstruation, the rally was very successful at drawing in different types of people who would not normally be a part of the dialogue. Children of all ages, nonbinary folks, and non-menstruating allies of the movement gathered together in City Hall Plaza to lobby for equitable changes to be made.

“We’re really proud,” Linzy said on behalf of her team. “It was a very empowering moment.”

PERIOD@Brandeis most recently held an open-mic event at Chums Coffee House on November 14. Students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to share a lighthearted night to talk about period mishaps and memories. Aimed at creating a “period-positive space” where people could laugh about the shared hardships that come with menstruation, this event worked to further break down the stigma surrounding periods by allowing people of all different identities to come together under a shared experience. 

Going forward, Linzy hopes to continue to affect change at a state-wide level like she did while organizing the rally. She feels as though many people overlook the impact that individuals can have on state legislature, so she wants to inform her colleagues on how to make choices that will benefit menstruators across the state. “Our society cannot run when people have to live in fear every month of not getting the menstrual products that they need,” Rosen concluded. 

Learn more and get involved by visiting PERIOD@Brandeis on Facebook. 

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