Thursday, April 29

Next Rebelles Meeting

Feminists in Fredericton! Our next NB Rebelles meeting will take place this coming Monday, May 3rd at 7pm. Join us at Feminist HQ (email for the address/directions) to talk about what is next for the Rebelles!

Friday, April 16

Next Meeting/Feminist Discussion

Hi everyone! I hope you enjoyed our little hiatus last week, and that all the students among us got a chance to breathe.

We are back to business as usual this week: our next meeting is Monday, April 19th at 7pm at Feminist HQ (email us for directions!). The discussion topic is Vegetarianism/Veganism in a Feminist Context, and it will be led by me (Peggy)! The discussion will be followed by a brief NB Rebelles meeting for which you are welcome but not obligated to attend.

See you there!

Tuesday, April 13

A new BLOG CONTRIBUTOR is in town!!!!

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies and Gentlemen...
I have decided to do the regular blogging duties from now on based on all the interesting, shocking, lovely, necessary news that we all find relevant and informative and hopefully always with a good feminist dosage/edge.
My name is Laura Vollrath and currently I live in Fredericton, New Brunswick and I was the 'Laura' that led the discussion in the previous week about Menstruation. Unfortunantly, not many of you lovely creatures could make it to the meeting that day but thats part of the reason why this blog exists! You didn't miss a thing I will be posting my whole presentation on here and would love to hear all of your feedback and thoughts on the bloody subject.
Let's get some good brainage going, shall we??



The Rag’, ‘swimming in the red ocean’, ‘My Period’, ‘Are you seeing red?’, ‘At high tide’, ‘Attracting the lesbian vampires’, ‘Bloody Mary’, ‘Bloody Beast’, ‘Bloody snot’, ‘Blowing a fuse’, ‘Closed for maintenance’ and so on…

Basic Facts:

1. Eumenorrhea expresses normal, regular menstruation that lasts for a few days (usually 3 to 5 days, but anywhere from 2 to 7 days is considered normal).[2] The average blood loss during menstruation is 35 millilitres with 10-80 mL considered normal;[3]

I ask:

What is your relationship to blood????

- Does it differ how women and men feel about blood?

- Why does something so natural usually end up feeling so ‘dirty’ for some women?

- Would you stop bleeding if you could? (How important is fertility to us as women today?)


-More horny or less?

(While searching on the internet, blogs and discussion areas I found that most people don’t care whether the girl is on the period or not, they keep on tickling and licking)

Dr.Laura also thinks Sex is probably the best cramp reliever there is!!!

Alternative Menstrual Products

There are several web-sites where you can purchase reusable pads, Diva cups and various other more environmentally consciouss menstrual products.

Biodegradable Wysi Wipes are the perfect solution for emergency period moments or cleaning your DivaCup or Pstyle while on the road. Moisten these mint-sized pellets with a bit of water and watch them expand into a 9"x9" (24x24cm) moist towelette. Made from plant fibres, they are not only biodegradable, but can also be reused a few times if they aren't too soiled. Measuring only 1cm thick and 2cm wide, keep a few in all of your carry bags. Great for diaper bags too! Watch our video to learn more.


Like recycling bottles and newspapers, washing Lunapads or rinsing out the DivaCup is a little more work than throwing away your used pads and tampons. But with over 14 billion pads, tampons and applicators going into North American landfills every year, it’s a small but important way of taking personal responsibility for a massive environmental problem.

More Links: -Museum of Menstruation of Women’s Health (Discover the rich history of menstruation and women's health on this Web site - MUM for short - devoted to menstruation and selected topics of women's health!) -women’s health information you can trust!!! more alternative rag stuff

The following 2 Articles are both very informative although very different and of course both all about the bloody subject. First article is about how different the situation is for Rwandan women and having their period, might make you think that we might not have it so bad after all...Second article talk about Toxic Shock Syndrome and the tampon rumours and lifts some of the myths related to the matter. Happy reading!!

Menstruation stigma costs girls dearly

March 08, 2010

Craig and Marc Kielburger

Three days a month, Annalita is too embarrassed to go to school.

The Rwandan teen, like millions of her peers worldwide, is menstruating. Her family can’t afford sanitary pads, so Annalita makes do with what few materials she can find including rags, bark and mud.

But these makeshift pads are usually ineffective. Rather than focusing on her studies, Annalita spends her day anxious about a potential accident in front of her classmates.

She also worries about embarrassment in her community. Menstruation carries a stigma of uncleanliness. Considering she can’t openly wash and dry her rags, walking home in soiled clothing would bring her further shame.

"If you have pads when you are travelling it would be easy," said Annalita at a meeting run by community health workers. There in the crowded, dirt-floored room it had taken some time for her to start talking. Soon though, everyone became eager to discuss the dilemma. "That would help you to continue with your daily programs and let you go where you wanted to go and do what you wanted to do."

Menstruation is rarely viewed as a pressing issue in developing nations. But, as community health workers encourage girls like Annalita to talk, they uncover a staggering problem. Every year, women and girls miss on average 50 days of work or school because they can’t afford effective sanitary pads.

For Annalita, this could amount to 5 years of lost potential as she hides due to shame.

But, Elizabeth Scharpf wants Annalita to be free of embarrassment every day of the month.

"I think you have to understand what resonates with each group of people," says the founder of Sustainable Health Enterprises, a social enterprise focusing on market-based approaches to development. "For example, when we talk to the Rwandan Minister of Finance, we talk about the economic consequences of girls not going to school. We talk about the future of the country."

She found that future is clouded.

Scharpf explains international brands are widely sold in stores but usually at inflated costs after passing through the hands of middlemen. In Rwanda, the cheapest brand sells at about $1.10 for a pack of 10 - inexpensive by Western standards but costly in a country where 60 per cent of people live in poverty.

Unable to afford these brands, girls instead miss school. Scharpf estimates their earning potential is decreased by 10 to 20 per cent with every year of schooling lost.

In the past, corporations and development groups have tried to hand out pads for free. But, stigmas usually prevent them from doing so in the open. Most find it’s not a sustainable.

"There was this realization that there is a strong need for different approaches," she Scharpf. "We need less of a donation-only approach and something more market-based."

In conjunction with MIT, they created a sanitary pad made of banana fibres. The material is abundant in Rwanda, eco-friendly and can be made locally by groups of community health workers. This helps lower production costs and existing networks help with distribution.

"Existing networks of community health workers actually have their own little distribution companies," says Scharpf. "That means we can cut out the middle people."

This allows the product to be sold at 30 per cent less cost.

The next step is to teach more Rwandan women to make the pads and give them loans to set up businesses. Then, using the same distribution networks, Scharpf hopes to empower entire communities.

"It’s really important to keep this local. It will only be successful if it’s locally run," says Scharpf. "With community leaders advocating, they can effectively do health and hygiene."

While stigmas still exist, at least now they won’t limit Annalita’s potential. With the ability to focus on her schoolwork, she can ensure her only anxiety comes from preparing for the next test.

Marc and Craig Kielburger are children's rights activists and co-founded Free The Children, which is active in the developing world. Their column appears Mondays online at

Tampons and Asbestos, Dioxin, & Toxic Shock Syndrome

FDA regulates the safety and effectiveness of medical devices, including tampons. Recently it has come to the agency's attention that allegations about tampons are being spread over the Internet. It is alleged that tampons are contaminated by asbestos and dioxin during manufacture, and that rayon fibers cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS). The available scientific evidence does not support these rumors. The following information will help answer concerns.

Asbestos Concerns

In the last six months, unfounded rumors on the Internet have suggested that U.S tampon manufacturers add asbestos to their products to promote excessive menstrual bleeding in order to sell more tampons. FDA has no evidence of asbestos in tampons or any reports regarding increased menstrual bleeding following tampon use.

Before any tampon is marketed in the U.S., FDA reviews its design and materials. Asbestos is not an ingredient in any U.S. brand of tampon, nor is it associated with the fibers used in making tampons. Moreover, tampon manufacturing sites are subject to inspection by FDA to assure that good manufacturing practices are being followed. Therefore, these inspections would likely identify any procedures that would expose tampons products to asbestos. If any tampon product was contaminated with asbestos, it would be as a result of tampering, which is a crime. Thus far, FDA has received no reports of tampering. Anyone having knowledge of tampon tampering is urged to notify FDA or a law enforcement officer.

Dioxin and Rayon Concerns

There are also allegations that some tampons contain toxic amounts of the chemical dioxin. The term "dioxin" or "dioxins" actually refers to a number of related chemical compounds. State-of-the art testing of tampons and tampon materials that can detect even trace amounts of dioxin has shown that dioxin levels are at or below the detectable limit. No risk to health would be expected from these trace amounts.

Tampons currently sold in the U.S. are made of cotton, rayon, or blends of rayon and cotton. Rayon is made from cellulose fibers derived from wood pulp. In this process the wood pulp is bleached. At one time, bleaching the wood pulp was a potential source of trace amounts of dioxin in tampons, but that bleaching method is no longer used. Rayon raw material used in U.S. tampons is now produced using elemental chlorine-free or totally chlorine free bleaching processes. These methods for purifying wood pulp are described below:

Elemental chlorine-free bleaching refers to methods that do not use elemental chlorine gas to purify the wood pulp. These methods include the use of chlorine dioxide as the bleaching agent as well as totally chlorine-free processes. Some elemental chlorine-free bleaching processes can theoretically generate dioxins at extremely low levels, and dioxins are occasionally detected in trace amounts in mill effluents and pulp. In practice, however, this method is considered to be dioxin free.

Totally chlorine-free bleaching refers to use of bleaching agents that contain no chlorine. These methods are also dioxin-free. Totally chlorine-free methods include, for example, use of hydrogen peroxide as the bleaching agent.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked with wood pulp producers to promote use of dioxin-free methods because dioxin is an environmental pollutant. Because of decades of pollution, dioxin can be found in the air, water and ground. Therefore, while the methods used for manufacturing tampons today are considered to be dioxin-free processes, traces of dioxin may still be present in the cotton or wood pulp raw materials used to make tampons. Thus, there may be trace amounts of dioxin present from environmental sources in cotton, rayon, or rayon/cotton tampons.

When questions about dioxin arose a number of years ago, FDA asked tampon manufacturers to provide information about their pulp purification processes and the potential for dioxin contamination. Manufacturers of rayon tampons are also asked to routinely monitor dioxin levels in the raw material used or the finished tampons. Manufacturers have provided FDA with test results of studies conducted at independent laboratories, using the most sensitive test methods available. Dioxin monitoring is a highly technical assay performed at only a few independent expert laboratories in the U.S. The detectable limit of this assay is currently approximately 0.1 to 1 parts per trillion of dioxin.

Using these tests, dioxin levels in the rayon raw materials for tampons are reported to be at or below the detectable limit of the state-of-the-art dioxin assay, i.e., approximately 0.1 to 1 parts per trillion. FDA's risk assessment indicates that this exposure is many times less than normally present in the body from other environmental sources, so small that any risk of adverse health effects is considered negligible. A part per trillion is about the same as one teaspoon in a lake fifteen feet deep and a mile square.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

There are also allegations that rayon in tampons causes TSS, and dryness or ulcerations of vaginal tissues.

TSS is a rare but potentially fatal disease caused by a bacterial toxin. (Different bacterial toxins may cause TSS, depending on the situation, but most often streptococci and staphylococci are responsible.) The number of reported TSS cases has decreased significantly in recent years. Approximately half the cases of TSS reported today are associated with tampon use during menstruation, usually in young women. TSS also occurs in children, men, and non-menstruating women. In 1997, only five confirmed menstrually-related TSS cases were reported, compared with 814 cases in 1980 [according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)]. Although scientists have recognized an association between TSS and tampon use, the exact connection remains unclear. Research conducted by the CDC suggested that use of some high absorbency tampons increased the risk of TSS in menstruating women. A few specific tampon designs and high absorbency tampon materials were also found to have some association with increased risk of TSS. These products and materials are no longer used in tampons sold in the U.S. Tampons made with rayon do not appear to have a higher risk of TSS than cotton tampons of similar absorbency.

Vaginal dryness and ulcerations may occur when women use tampons more absorbent than needed for the amount of their menstrual flow. Ulcerations have also been reported in women using tampons between menstrual periods to try to control excessive vaginal discharge or abnormal bleeding. Women may avoid problems by choosing a tampon with the minimum absorbency needed to control menstrual flow and using tampons only during active menstruation.

To help women compare absorbency from brand to brand, FDA requires that manufacturers measure absorbency using a standard method and describe absorbency on the package using standardized terms. Thus, the terms "junior," "regular," "super," and "super plus," always describe a specific range of tampon absorbency regardless of the brand.

FDA requires manufacturers to give information on the package labeling about the signs of TSS and how to minimize the risk. Women are encouraged to read this information before using tampons and to ask about TSS when getting a medical checkup.