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:
- Menstruation products are necessary, not a luxury (and so they should be free of cost).
- Gender does not determine “sex,” or whether one menstruates or not.
- 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?