He Believed Tampons Were Dildos
Once I worked as an intern in the state capital. One of the representatives I worked for was this middle-aged guy. And he hated the tampon and napkin machines in the women’s bathrooms. Hated them. He insisted that they weren’t necessary.
I found out why after I’d been working there, oh, about a month. My period started suddenly, as it sometimes does, and I asked to excuse myself to go to the ladies’ room. He wanted to know why. I told him.
He started ranting about how lazy women were. How we wasted time. How we were so careless and unhygenic, and that there was no call for that. He finished by telling me that I certainly was NOT going to the ladies’ room and that I was just going to sit there and work. He finished this off with a decisive nod, as if I’d just been told and there could be no possible argument.
“If I don’t go,” I said in an overly patient tone, “the blood is going to soak through my pants, stain my new skirt that I just bought, and possibly get on this chair I’m sitting in. I need something to soak up the blood. That’s why I need to go to the bathroom.”
His face turned oatmeal-gray; an expression of pure horror spread across his face. He leaned forward and whispered, “Wait, you mean that if you don’t go, you’ll just keep on bleeding? I thought that women could turn it off any time that they wanted!”
I thought, You have got to be kidding.
Several horrified whispers later, I learned that he wasn’t. He actually thought a) that women could shut down the menstrual cycle at will, b) that we essentially picked a week per month to spend more time in the bathroom, i.e. to goof off, and c) that napkins and tampons were sex toys paid for by Health and Human Services. I didn’t know the term then, but he believed that tampons were dildos. Which was why he and a good number of his friends considered them luxuries.
And that’s how, at twenty, I had to give a talk on menstruation to a middle-aged married state representative who was one of my bosses. American politics, ladies and gentlemen.