A “Period Dignity Officer” is a great idea. But why did the job go to a man?
The role was the first of its kind in Scotland, and in the world. The Tay region created the position of “period dignity officer” to fight against period poverty. They would implement Scotland’s legal right to free period products, introduced in August, which made it compulsory for public buildings such as councils, schools and colleges to provide menstrual protection free of charge. This ground-breaking law made Scotland the first country to legally require universal access to period products.
In a context where one in ten girls throughout the UK cannot afford menstrual products, and nearly 140 000 missing school due to period poverty, creating an official position dedicated to tackling this issue was a brilliant idea. It brings the problem to the forefront. It gives it visibility and makes tackling it a priority, both on a symbolic and a practical level.
However, the region took the controversial decision of naming a man to the role. This sparked outrage, with many women expressing concern that he would be “mansplaining” menstruation.
Tennis player Martina Navratilova described the decision to appoint a man as “absurd”. Actress Frances Barber said she was “fuming”.
Rather than hiring a woman to the role, the council instead decided to scrap the role entirely.
“Given the threats and abuse levelled at individuals in recent weeks, the period dignity regional lead officer role will not continue,” a spokeswoman for the Period Dignity Working Group, the team in charge of the initiative, said in a statement.
I feel such disappointment on hearing this story. That a great initiative ended up being canned. That a man was named in the first place. That the response was “threats”, showing how violent disagreeing is in our modern, online world. That progress is always so hard to obtain, and so hard to preserve.