Menstruation business shot down as it's deemed "odd to pitch a business only half the population use"...
Last week, the BBC aired a potentially ground-breaking episode of Dragons' Den when sanitary box provider 'DAME' made their show debut. It was huge. Their appearance was set to prove that there is money to be made in women's hygiene products and that it's OK to talk about periods. That's pretty amazing. Only it wasn't, at all. As soon as tampons were mentioned the so-called dragons became "very uncomfortable" (complained Peter Jones), embarrassed and giddy at the "odd" pitch. Subsequently, the show exacerbated the period taboo that has silenced women for decades. That is not okay. Here's why.
Let's face it. Pretty much forever, we have been taught that periods are weird, strange and totally embarrassing. It's something that happens to most women, and yet not talking about periods has facilitated all sorts of completely avoidable and pretty important problems. The list could go on forever. But amongst other significant things, the period taboo makes women feel silenced, has led to injustices such as the tampon tax and has slowed an array of medical research into gynaecological cancers, a problem highlighted by The Eve Appeal charity. It's hurting women politically, financially and medically and is something that needs to stop. Period.
While the BBC have been extremely supportive of the 'End Tampon Tax' campaign and smashing the period taboo over the past few years, the Dragons' Den programme, aired on 12 February, seems to have stunted this progress. That's worrying. Alec Mills, the co-founder of 'DAME' who appeared on Dragons' Den, told me that he was upset about the way in which the show was edited. Interestingly, he told me that the producers chose to focus on the "funny and squirmy bits" of the pitch and axed the sanitary product provider's business plans, work with homeless women and young girls and their plan to empower women: all really amazing things. The DAME founders told us they thought this is "a real shame for the 32million women in the UK who could probably have benefited from a little more period-positivity".
Ultimately, the show portrayed periods to be weird and discouraged others from talking about menstruation. It exacerbated the period taboo and subsequently harmed its female audience. While we understand the need for the show to be entertaining, making fun of period talk itself undermines all of the kick ass work the BBC has done to promote women and tackle the period taboo.
In the amazing words of Alec: "The knock on effects of the silence and shame around menstruation are immeasurable. At DAME we believe the solution is to normalise language around periods from a very young age, to include boys in all period-related classes at school, and to never imply periods are something to hide. Confidence confidence confidence!"
If you agree with us and Alec, and want to help smash the period taboo, then pleeeeease tweet @BBCDragonsDen to ask them for an explanation. Period! Feel free to share their response with me via twitter @LauraCoryton or email email@example.com. Thank you!