By: Megan Convey
In my last year of University I came to the conclusion that my focus, born of curiosity and frustration, would be to explore and utilize tampons in my artistic practice. The work, Does the Carpet Match the Drapes, was the result of this curiosity as I merged a feminine product with a feminine trade, weaving a glittering tapestry of pads and tampons to create a celebration of femininity in a way that spoke to me and I hoped would reach others. In doing so, I attempted to rid this household item of its grotesqueness and bring forward questions about these products that had either perplexed me or revealed themselves to me in the process.
In each loving hand stitch of tampon to tampon, carried out in the intimacy of friends or the vulnerability of public transport, I asked myself why this shame of the female body has continued to live through the generations, surviving its medieval ancestry and Victorian morality. A greater question was why so many of my male classmates or fellow city dwellers were still mortified by the sight of clean white cotton, untainted by blood.
With the great laborious struggle of forcing overnight pads through a sewing machine older than what my grandmother had used I was reminded of the struggle of females involved with the United States armed forces, whom were told that their need for feminine hygiene products would be a complication and an unnecessary expense for our military if they were to be allowed in combat. Or the millions of women have no access to feminine care, risking infection because their needs of feminine hygiene are not being met. This was greatly humbling, as I was reminded of the great privilege in being able to access tampons and pads with ease.
By the end of the piece, I had stopped using tampons all together, after researching and discussing with others as a result of the work about my options of reusable and nearly risk free products, such as menstrual cups and sponges. As I sprinkled the final layer of rusted orange glitter, I left behind my own ignorance of the female body, releasing the shame embedded by our culture, realizing that my relationship to my vagina and my self was just as important as anything else in my life.
With this piece I wish to bring into conversation these ludicrous taboos, not one of us would be here without the life-giving qualities of menstrual blood, therefore it should be discussed with the same love and care it has given us, not with shame and disrespect.