Friday, November 21, 2008

Of societies and conservatism...

She remembers a time when she was asked, not so discretely, if she had a tampon to lend:
-No, but I have a pad if you'd like...
-A pad? No! they're too bothersome, you still use pads? how archaic!
Flash Foward two years later, (today), she's shopping for her good ol' pads at her regular "hypermarket" (since in Lebanon a supermarket is barely up to par, and so you wonder what's in a name, and you then wander into the semantics of nightclubs, supernightclubs and supersupernightclubs but I digress...) And so she's in her hypermarket and she checks the tampons "collection" and to her surprise there's only one kind, in a somewhat sketchy cardboard box. What's the point you ask?

The great U.S. of A vs. the Hyper Lebanon societies:

On one side you have a society where girls are overpowered and so they will shout on the streets that they're pms-ing and that they use tampons and who needs a man anyways?
On the other side you have a conservative society where girls are all virgins (or appear to be) and they're all too scared to use tampons whether because they're truly virgins and misconceive tampon usage or because they're just too scared/ashamed to reveal that they're not virgins to begin with... And so there's no market for Tampax, Playtex, Ohne Binde... But you can bet money on finding a whole two-three shelves for Always with wings, ultra, fresh, overnighting... BUT, still still you need to be extra careful when you buy your pads because God forbids a man sees you carrying them! And yes believe it, the first thought that will come to mind is: "she has her period, how disgusting!"
And so we delve into a slightly off topic rant: Why is it that in Lebanon a woman who has her period is considered sick? "yiiiii sorry sakhneh, je peux pas nager!" (translation: "yiiiii sorry, I'm sick, I can't swim!") It's a regular physiological response, albeit annoying at times, but it's a sign of good health and fertility! Oh no she can't fulfill her wifely duties! she's sick...
Long story short, as part of the medical team, I prefer pads because tampons might cause toxic shock syndrome and tend to be less hygienic if not removed constantly.
However, however, it seems like a futile and mostly personal issue to choose between pads and tampons, and women should have the option to favor one or the other, but to the day, this is not the case in Lebanon and this by itself is a reflection of a very complex, hypocritical society where women are still second class citizens.