One of the largest stories circulating right now is about Brown University putting tampons and pads in its bathrooms.

When I first read this headline, I was pretty happy, because feminists have been asking for this seemingly forever (or at least in the last few years). But I was also surprised: Why would Brown do this, when women’s colleges (like Scripps) haven’t even adopted this policy yet? I’d imagine that a campus like ours at the 5Cs would be one of the first to do something like this–no offense to Brown.

I was even more impressed when I actually read the article, though, since Brown is also putting menstruation products in the men’s/”gender-inclusive” bathrooms as well, which trans students–particularly trans students of color–have also been asking for since seemingly forever ago. This one action that Brown is making communicates a three-part controversial claim:

  1. Menstruation products are necessary, not a luxury (and so they should be free of cost).
  2. Gender does not determine “sex,” or whether one menstruates or not.
  3. And even further, this indirectly assumes a pro-trans stance, that trans students are allowed, do, and should use the bathroom that aligns with their identity and not necessarily their assigned gender.

But despite these three claims, this move isn’t actually all that surprising when we think about who enacted it. I initially thought that Brown University itself enacted this new policy/program, but I’m not shocked to read that actually its student government did. This makes more sense because college students tend to be one of the most politically active groups during the last few centuries. Nonetheless, it’s progress.

I definitely learned this week that the media neglects many, many stories. If this is one that is actually published… what’s not being reported? What’s not being said?

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4 responses »

  1. kristenhong says:

    There definitely are many stories that receive more attention than others such as the Brock Turner case which has been prominently documented and followed by multiple news channels and reporters. And then there are stories and triumphs like this that does not get nearly as much attention as it deserves. This raises the question, how much control does the media really have? It also prompts me to be more mindful and aware that media is a powerful platform that can be easily controlled and manipulated.

  2. ddmaoz says:

    This is really incredible, and you are totally right in that it is not surprising that this sort of initiative was brought on by the student government. It looks like everywhere from Brown to the 5Cs, students are putting in endless emotional labor and working to change these institutions that are in fact supposed to be serving them.
    Similarly, your question about what goes unreported made me think back to the events of last fall at CMC and across the country. I remember the amounts of work students of color on our campuses put in, and how their narratives would mostly get ignored by mainstream media, who would only pick up on more conservative perspectives on what was happening. Specifically I am thinking about how certain voices on this campus are more powerful outside of our campus community since they have connections with high ranking employees of major news outlets. It is frustrating that we have incredible students putting their narrative forth, and this goes largely ignored outside of our campus.

  3. Yiran Li says:

    This is definitely a impressive progress. I totally agree with that it is not surprising this is done by student government because students are always the most crucial and active group. It is also true that the the media is biased and I believe there will be controversies hiding behind what’s being said. This is also reminds me of a the headline I read during the Olympics this year. When a Chinese female swimming athlete Yuanhui Fu was interviewed after the competition, she said she couldn’t do the best because she was on her period. The interview was discussed on the social media on how “straightforward” she was on the topic that people don’t usually talk about publicly. I think regardless of things that are not being said, this is definitely a progress in terms of feminism.

  4. Yiran Li says:

    This is definitely a impressive progress. I totally agree with that it is not surprising this is done by student government because students are always the most crucial and active group. It is also true that the the media is biased and I believe there will be controversies hiding behind what’s being said. This also reminds me of a the headline I read during the Olympics this year. When a Chinese female swimming athlete Yuanhui Fu was interviewed after the one of her competitions, she said she couldn’t do the best because she was on her period. The interview was discussed on the social media on how “straightforward” she was on the topic that people don’t usually talk about publicly. I think regardless of things that are not being said, this is definitely a progress in terms of feminism.

    Reply

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