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12:00am, 19th February, 2018

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3 Min

Of late the movie Padman has been quite in the news and all over the social media  for reasons both good and bad.

The Padman Challenge that went viral garnered positive as well negative responses from the people around the country. So, let us just talk about this viral campaign , The Padman Challenge where in you are supposed to click a selfie holding a pad in your hand and post it on social media.  A successful promotional gimmick , ,a lot of its critics have remarked,  but more than that I believe , it is a wonderful idea to fight the taboo that menstruation is regarded as in this country. A  lot of limelight seeking, publicity hungry pseudo feminists came out bashing the campaign with all their might. Their most  important concern?  The Padman Challenge is wasteful. It is wasting thousands of pads. I was thoroughly puzzled. How can a harmless selfie with a pad possibly contribute towards its wastage?  Now I am a woman and have been a  customer of the pad industry for  literally more than half of my life. So naturally I am well acquainted with the theories and practicalities of menstrual hygiene. So dear so called feminists, rest assured, nothing would be mansplained in this article.

Now as far as the wastage is concerned, after thinking of all the possible reasons and failing to find any, I decided to ask someone online  who was very concerned about the wastage. And trust me, I was stumped. So apparently, holding a pad in your own hand and clicking a selfie with it contaminates it so much that it is rendered useless for  such intimate purposes as menstruation. So, how did you use the pad in the first place? Do you take out the pad out of its packing with sterilised forceps? Or do you wear gloves while handling it? And once the napkin is out in the open air which for very practical reasons, it would have to be in for quite some time in the process of using it, do you resterilise it with ethanol or autoclave it before finally wearing it? By their logic contamination from exposure to environment, women must not  expose their undergarments to the open air too, because you see, so many microbes, so many infections.  So what should women do to avoid such deadly consequences? Keep under clothing in air tight sealed packaging, wash them in 70% ethanol and dry them in a hot air oven because can’t risk exposure to natural environment, right?

On a serious note, enough people, stop making an issue out of everything. Maybe the people associated with the film are doing it just for promotion, so what? You can’t deny the fact that it is indeed generating awareness at such a large scale while you sit smugly in front of your computers bashing these people who at least  took the initiative to work on a sensitive topic. The message may or may not reach the rural masses but for now, isn’t it enough that it is making people comfortable around a topic that even urban women shy from?  The level of ignorance regarding menstruation in this country  is such that mothers don’t talk to their daughters about it, let alone sensitizing their boys about the issue. So many girls are harassed and bullied over a red stain on their skirts even in the big schools of the most urbane areas of the country. If people were so comfortable around it, there wouldn’t be any need to hide a sanitary napkin under layers of newspaper and a black polybag.

Some over concerned people also suggested that instead of such gimmicks, the film people should distribute pads among rural women.  Well for one thing, they did distribute pads in a lot of schools. And secondly even if they do manage to distribute pads to every single woman of this country, it would still be just for one month. Periods come every month. So basically, are you asking these people to distribute pads for crores of women every month year after year? Wouldn’t making these women aware of low cost pads and menstrual hygiene be a better and far reaching long term solution? That is precisely what such campaigns and the film is upto. Also, do not just preassume that the people who are involved in this challenge are throwing that pad straight into the dustbin.  And anyway you were not planning on saving that one pad to donate it to the nearest NGO for women, were you?  So even if that one pad does go to waste, it is for a good cause.

And come on , a lot of  people who wouldn’t  have the guts or simply wouldn’t be bothered to discuss this topic in public are  now getting sensitized to it. Entire social media is buzzing with the topic. That is something great, isn’t it? So let us just appreciate the good work being done and try to contribute in our own little ways towards creating awareness instead of finding insignificant flaws in an otherwise good cause. The Padman Challenge may or may not empower women, but it would certainly make the people more open to the subject of menstruation. For now that is good enough.

P.S.:-  It is possible to takeout a pad  out of its packing with one hand, take a selfie with it and keep it back for future use without dying of infections.

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