The Washington College Democrats are seeking to aid less fortunate individuals for a second year.
The organization is collecting unwanted bras and new menstrual products to be donated to the Kent Family Center, a local organization that provides free and comprehensive services for children and parents. The campus community can stop by their table on the first floor of Hodson until tomorrow to make donations.
Junior Cherie Ciaudella, incoming vice president, pitched the idea last year. As a feminist, she was looking at female poverty and its implications on everyday life for women. The original idea blossomed, and the club endeavors to be inclusive. Ciaudella said that the WC Dems’ Bra and Menstrual Product drive goes by that name and not as the Bra and Feminine Hygiene Drive.
There are two reasons for this decision: First, there are stigmas associated with menstrual products and this drive is meant to alleviate those stigmas so that people can have conversations about menstruation without feeling awkward; second, not all people who have periods are women, and labeling the drive as “feminine” excludes those who do not conform to the gender binary.
“There is enough separation and discrimination in this world and it is really awful to even think about a person who does not conform to the gender binary being excluded from this drive as well. A democrat is concerned with social issues, therefore, we should be as inclusive as possible and make students aware of the stigmas associated with menstruation,” Ciaudella said.
Last year, the club received donations of 168 bras, 383 tampons, 193 liners, 362 pads, and raised $247, which pushed the club to run the drive again this year.
“Although the various housing crises and the women of the #MeToo movement have gained national attention, little focus has been drawn to some of the most vulnerable members of the American homeless population: people who menstruate. As a native Californian who has watched the California housing crisis grow, I’ve learned from some of my work with Los Angeles nonprofits and community organizers that menstruating while homeless is one of the most common health hazards for homeless folks who can’t afford menstrual products,” said WC Dems member and incoming president Mai Do, junior.
Menstrual products and bras are among the items not eligible to be purchased through WIC or food stamps. The people who are in need of these products and can’t afford them are likely on programs such as these. Because of their inability to purchase these products, these people are forced to miss out on opportunities like job interviews—which could potentially better their living situations if a job offer came out of the interview.
“Most of the WC Democrats are people who menstruate and who wear bras, so we have an intimate understanding of the challenges that come with menstruation and the high cost of both menstrual products and bras. Having this bra and menstrual product drive is the WC Democrats’ way of reminding our local community of this particularly vulnerable cross-section of the population, decreasing the stigma surrounding the conversation about reproductive health, and tangibly contributing to the amelioration of the issue,” Do said.
Donations of bras can be new, but they are accepting any that are hanging in enough to still be functional. Even if you are not sure that it would be acceptable, organizers ask that you still bring it. Monetary donations are being accepted as well.
“Having a period isn’t fun, but it should not be something that has to be hidden. It’s a common experience and should be something to bring us together,” said Ciaudella.