Ladies, did you know every time you get your period you become a walking biohazard capable of grossing out loved ones with your very presence? That's right, just like men have been saying since the dawn of time, periods are super disgusting, and the products you use to collect your uterine lining make the world a more repulsive place!
At least that's what a company making a product called MaskIT wants you to believe. What is MaskIT? Bearing a striking resemblance to a dog poop bag, MaskIT is a mini trash bag the company hopes women will use to "hide" their used tampons and pads before, well, throwing them in the trash. It's a trash bag that goes in a trash bag, with the tagline "Keep your cycle under wraps." Get it?
The company was founded by mom and entrepreneur Shallan Ramsey who felt that women needed a more discreet way to dispose of period products—because throwing them in the regular trash is just too gross, plus people can see! Ramsey also wanted to make sure her solution was eco-friendly, so each tampon bag is made of bio-film, which is bio-degradable. This does not, however, change the fact that tampons themselves take about six months to bio-degrade, while the plastic applicators can take 25 years. It just adds an extra layer of stuff that needs to be broken down. According to the company's website, you can buy MaskIT online at Walgreens, Amazon, and Drugstore.com.
But wait, still not convinced your period products need to be hidden? Check out this promotional video, in which MaskIT attempts to demonstrate just how disgusting our periods are. In the Emmy-worthy production, a man is asked to take out the trash while his girlfriend is combatting her monthly cycle. Because the task at hand is so revolting—there are period products in there!—he suits up with oven mitts, an apron, a surgical mask, and tongs in order to protect himself from used-tampon exposure.
If only his girlfriend had used MaskIT, he wouldn't be in this situation! Or maybe she could just stop existing once a month. I mean, would that really be so hard?
In all seriousness, how is shaming women for having periods still a thing? In the past year alone, states are have begun to repeal the tax on feminine hygiene products, women have spoken openly about competing with periods at the Olympics, companies are allowing women to take time off for PMS, and earlier this year, Newsweek declared that the fight to end period shaming has gone mainstream. MAINSTREAM!
Yet we're still faced with the notion that tampons and pads and period blood are disgusting, and women should hide them. Indeed, most of the reviews for MaskIT are positive only because women boast about hiding their period and saving themselves the "embarrassment."
After this article first published, the founder of MaskIT reached out to explain that the product was, in part, inspired by her experience growing up with three brothers whom she did not always want to know she had her period—a product like MaskIT, she said, would have allowed her to share that information with them when she was ready. She intended it to be empowering. “It’s always interesting to learn how our message is being interpreted and unfortunately in this case, your feedback indicates the exact opposite of what we are going for,” Ramsey said. “Our entire objective is to provide a sanitary and discreet way for girls to deal with their used feminine products, but also to help build confidence in young girls and women when it comes to their period.”
Look, I'm not saying MaskIT is totally terrible. In one of its videos, the company features a woman out in the woods looking for a place to dispose of her tampon, and MaskIT comes to the rescue. (Of course, a paper bag would work just as well, but whatever, it's not like I've survived backpacking while on my period. Oh wait—yes I have.)
Even if there are a handful of circumstances where MaskIT might be useful—a very small handful—what's not cool is a company trying to sell a product by perpetuating the notion that periods are gross and dirty and need to be hidden. It's time to cut out this idea that women should be embarrassed if anyone sees their period products. You guys, the secret is out. We bleed and we soak up that blood with products that we dispose of in the trash. Get over it.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include comment from MaskIT's founder.
Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.