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free bleeding: fact or myth?


Image: Wikimedia Commons/ Danny C. Sillada

The latest trend that’s been heating up Twitter, blogs and online articles alike is something called ‘free bleeding.’ It’s a ‘disturbing new trend … in which a woman who is menstruating chooses to use feminine products no longer, in exchange for allowing her blood to flow “freely” out of her body, staining her clothing and running down her thighs to wherever it may end up.’

Yeah, that’s right. I did not stutter there.

There are apparently ‘two ideas behind’ the trend. The first of which is that a woman’s time of the month ‘should not be considered something unclean and unnatural, something to be hidden and cleaned up hastily.’ Secondly, feminine hygiene products oppress us as women because they are ‘man made inventions [which further our] victim status as a woman living in a world by men.’

Indeed, men did play a big part in the invention of modern-day menstrual products. The first known product was called a ‘womb veil’ and was invented thanks to ‘Charles Goodyear who invented the technology to vulcanize rubber’ in 1839. Later, the Johnson & Johnson Company made the ‘first commercial sanitary pads … named for Joseph Lister, a pioneer in sterile surgery.’ Dr Earle Haas filed ‘for a tampon patent’ in 1931 and his ‘tube-within-a-tube design [is] still used today.’ However, women were also involved – WW2 nurses in France started using bandages they were applying to wounded soldiers ‘for their own flow’ because the bandages ‘absorbed blood much better than plain old cotton.’ And in 1933, Gertrude Tendrich was actually the first person to purchase a patent for a tampon, out-doing Dr. Haas and even using his ‘compression machine’ to make ‘tampons at home.’

But back to modern times.

Adora Bull, who has written probably the best article on the subject of free bleeding (more about that in a bit) goes on to say that ‘by letting it run freely, is the way nature intended us to deal with our’ monthly cycle, but ‘for any normal woman, however, this idea is horrifying.’ Her article goes on to criticise the movement and it’s association with feminism. She worries that if this is indeed something feminists want women to do then their ‘true motive is to set the progress of our species backwards, not forward.’ She urges her readers to ‘disregard and reject this new hardcore feminist trend, both for your own health and the health of those around you.’

Agreed, Ms. Bull. Yet, there is one problem. Free bleeding is not actually a huge trend. It’s a concept that has been around ‘online since the early 2000s’ and was first discussed then by a ‘women’s reproductive health blog. ‘In February 2014 [it was] promoted by members of 4chan as a prank to convince women that feminine hygiene products were a form of patriarchal oppression.’ What is 4chan, you ask? Well, they are home to what Foxnews calls ‘the most powerful people on the internet,’ all of whom ‘lack a social conscience’ and are the makers of such memes as LOLCATS and Hamster Dance. They are a group of guys who claim that their blog is ‘a place beyond sanity, wild and untamed.’ And they’ve launched ‘a couple silly hashtag trends’ in order to ‘manufacture enough fake social media outrage over the use of sanitary pads that news and organizations and feminists fall for it.’

So how about that for patriarchal oppression?

Free bleeding is actually real. You can do a little bit of research to find that out. It’s a topic of a few feminine hygiene and health blogs, and is stated as something that you can deal with ‘if you have a light enough flow to not really need anything.’ But it’s not something a huge bandwagon of feminists has jumped onto. It’s just a prank, and one that has gotten women and men alike all fired up.

That leads me onto my final point, which if I daresay myself, may turn into a bit of a rant. (You were warned.)

Gary Demar has written a response to Adora Bull’s article, titled ‘Crazy Feminists Want Their “Period” to Bleed “Freely” and Feminize Wikipedia.’ He blatantly ignores what Bull is actually trying to say, which is that calling free bleeding ‘natural’ is actually ridiculous and goes on to say ‘What’s “natural” is not always a sought after normative state for humans. We were born into this world naked. Should we shun clothing’? And then finishes off his piece stating ‘Consistent feminism is impossible. The only way these new trends will gain cultural traction is by the force of law. That’s what scares me.’

Just, wow.

So, to sum it all up, don’t initially believe anything you read on the internet – especially if it’s going around saying that feminists believe in something that a group of male hackers have placed onto the internet to prank all of us. That’s just all sorts of wrong. I’m going to go back to normal life now, I’m going to go bleed and clean up after myself as I please and not let anyone in the world tell me how or why I should do it. And that’s how I think we as feminists can stick it to ‘the man’ and take control of what happens to us every month. Choose to free bleed, choose to use tampons, choose whatever is right for you.

[Image Credit]

20 thoughts on “free bleeding: fact or myth?

  1. Who would clean up the mess after them? They certainly wouldn’t and if they did it would get boring rather quickly, and blood sure as hell wouldn’t come out in the wash so I really don’t think any woman would consider doing this.

    • Blood doesn’t come out in the wash? Really? Not even if you wash by hand in cold water? I must have been living in an illusory parallel universe all my life…it happens for me all the time!

      • It may come out in the wash…but this practice is nasty and any woman with decency would not do this. Some could argue that Feces and urine should flow freely….however, when you know better you do better. Menstrual blood has an odor when air hits it…as well as blood being unsafe to others exposed to it….this is nasty and any woman who practices this is a deranged, filthy, trash bucket.

  2. So I have a screengrab as proof of the whole thing being a massive 4chan prank.
    I have to say, Adora Bull describes herself as ‘possessing keen observational skills’. . .surely someone with said skills could easily see this as a raid.

    Anyways, dunno if I can post a jpg here but lemme know if you want the evidence, taken straight from b’s board.

  3. is this really serious? why would any woman want period flowing down their legs? you would have to buy new clothes every month. its just weird. if i personally was a girl i would just shove a tampon up my vagina its not hard. i dont want to be walking round the streets with everywhere covered in dots off blood, thanks.

  4. Pingback: Menstruation: How should it be seen? How should it be understood? | lip magazine

  5. This is hilarious! However, there are some free bleeding products out there without the mess. They’re called Menstrual cups. So much better than absorbent products.

  6. Pingback: Tampons et serviettes gratuits : pourquoi les règles devraient être l’affaire de tous | Sans Compromis

  7. Okay, let me just say the act of abstaining entirely from feminine products is an untrue rumour and even if it was true that is nasty.
    But my experience with freebleeding is this: oh look i have nothing to do today, i’m literally just going to stay home all day in my pjs. oh i’m on my period? you know what i can’t be bothered wearing a pad/tampon today i’m just gonna wear black pants and underwear for today’
    it wasn’t going outside and contaminating things with menstrual blood or letting it ‘run down my legs’ it was lazing around all day in my home.

      • Honestly it doesn’t just gush out constantly like an open wound. You go to the bathroom, wipe everything off. If you’re not being active and just sitting around the house, it more or less sits inside you until you get up and move around a bit or go to the toilet

    • Agree, dark clothes, days at home big deal. And for the people who say tampons?? Well totally uncomfortable even after two children, and pads cause irritation to the thighs. There is a time and place to relax!!

  8. Free bleeding is the most stupidist thing I ever heard. Especially if you have hepatitis or HIV or AIDS or other contagious diseases that spreads by bloody contacts.

  9. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feeling but if you feel like you shouldn’t use pads and tampons because it’s man made then you are being a hypocrite. Because your house your living in I’m sure man made it how about your car or your phone your using or your computer or the internet. The list goes on and on. Also things gets transmitted through blood and if your free bleeding and u sit down in public and leave a puddle and someone else sits on it with out looking? How is this sanitary? Also all this is doing is giving people more reason to not let women have more rights, it’s making us look crazy. But how I feel is that we women are the bigger person and we don’t need to do things like this to make us have more power over ourselves. We are woman and we are strong and independent and if you have to do things like this to tell yourself that then I’m sorry for you.

  10. To the girl talking about the menstrual cups, who’s vagina is big enough to fit one? I bought them and they still sit around. They don’t fit because they’re too big, they have rough plastic and I couldn’t even get it in to tell you if it was ok once in or if it worked

  11. If you cut yourself would you let it bleed freely? Of course not, you’d put a band-aid on it, so why would a woman let blood flow freely from her vagina? Besides, after a while the blood would dry out and stick to her thighs, which in turn would attract flies, I very much doubt any woman wants that.

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