by Sara Harrington

CW​: graphic imagery, menstruation

Wads of tissue swaddle the gushed gusset of my soon to be late underwear. DIY panty-lining for a DIY punk show. Tissue becomes currency as it is discovered that none of the loos in the entire venue have any – my stash acquired from the Wetherspoons further down the road. No cubicle provides the menstrual cup removing privacy of an old fashioned door. Instead, makeshift curtains swathe the space between yourself and a sorry stranger as the feat of dealing with your period in a space that assumes you do not have one trickles down your hand in all its bloody glory.

Do not have your period at a punk gig.

A wave of lethargy encumbers my body, as the iron count in my blood and the fucks I have to give dwindle.

A wave of lethargy encumbers my body, as the iron count in my blood and the fucks I have to give dwindle. Well aware of the inconvenience my body poses to the narrative of the carefree punk show, I decide to allow myself to be angry. Angry that my basic needs are not thought about, angry that the blood dripping between my labia and down my leg will have to sit there until better facilities can be found, angry that the default is male.

This venue is not typical of all venues, many contribute toilet paper; however, a rare few provide sanitary products for those who have periods. An annoying at best and devastating at worst trend I have experienced in the multitude of punk venues I have visited, the lack of sanitary facilities illustrates an absence of respect for bodies that menstruate. Alternatively, I have visited venues where tampons and pads are provided free, often times in placid Sunday pubs and Euro squats and less in the radical posturing venues many punk gigs inhabit. For the most part, menstruating at a punk gig is not the most inconvenient and the provisions of sanitary products is gradually starting to catch on.

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When the Hard Times publishes a satirical article about the sorry state of venue toilets you know that it’s a phenomenon that is unfortunately all too common. For all the feminist posturing and posi-actions of punk venues putting gender-neutral toilets into a radical space, there is a serious deficit of facilities for your bodily functions. ‘Neutral’ aptly describes these binary-less, cubicled spaces as what they are: genderless, indifferent, and unaccommodating. Rather I propose that we rename these public pissing spaces to ‘gender-inclusive’ to re-write the narrative and ensure everyone’s needs are cared for. The problem is not the sharing of a public toilet with all genders, the problem is when the default for these spaces is that of male needs.

Hanging behind the bar the phrase ‘NO RACISM, NO HOMOPHOBIA, NO SEXISM, NO VIOLENCE’ is emblazoned as a proud gesture to notify to all the gig attendees that ‘isms’ of those kind are unwelcome in this space. This is a safe space. We pride ourselves on making our venue inclusive. But the phrase ‘NO SEXISM’ jars as I’m mopping the tacky tide of menstrual blood from my thighs. As a proud womb-bearer I do not shy away from my period and my needs, I am not embarrassed to ask for toilet paper or to express that I need to find somewhere suitable to change my menstrual cup. But I am tired of feeling uncatered for in a market that tells me it is for me but cannot even provide my bodily basics. I ask for fairer consideration when you tell me that you are inclusive of all genders and I ask simply that you at least provide loo roll before you pat yourselves on the back.

Featured image by Sara Harrington

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