Swimming in the Red sea

Today’s post is about ‘free bleeding’ – free bleeding is basically when a person with a vagina; who happens to be menstruating, chooses to do so without using ANY sort of product to absorb or catch the period blood or to protect their clothing.

When I told a friend that I was going to do a bit of research into free bleeding, her first reaction (after asking what it actually was) was extreme horror interest in hearing just how, exactly, free bleeders avoid staining their couches and car seats and carpets and probably their pets. I didn’t have any answers for her, so took it upon myself to find out.

The very first thing I learned from my old friend Google is that there is not a lot of information on free bleeding (as such) and certainly little current information. There is a Facebook page which, quite frankly, may or may not be satire.

The second thing I learned it that the term ‘free bleeders‘ is sometimes given to people who wear a menstrual cup or use washable, reusable sanitary pads, or even (goodness knows why) just a folded face washer shoved in their undies! Is that cheating? Is that even fair? C’mon now!

There seem to be quite a few ideas behind the choice to free bleed.

1) Certain period people believe that menstruation, being a totally natural and normal occurrence, should not be something that needs to be hidden away – in fact, for these people, displaying their ‘womanhood’ as a proud bleeder means shunning any type of product that hampers the flow of period blood and letting it run freely down their thighs and (supposedly) into their socks or shoes.
(I need to stop right here for a moment…..because I just have to say this……..just as menstruation is a natural occurrence and should be celebrated and recognised and proudly displayed for all to see – would that not make poop (and wee) of equal shameless importance?)

2) Many of the products available for period management contain bleaches, dyes and chemicals that some people choose to avoid placing in contact with – or inside – their bodies.
(OK, I can see the sense in that. I’m pretty sure this is where washable and re-usable menstrual products come into their own.)

3) Some disposable menstrual products take an incredibly long time to decompose – WILL NOBODY THINK OF THE ENVIRONMENT (see above – washable padsdownload, menstrual cups and even sponge tampons are a thing)

4) And finally – I read this today “Stop OPPRESSION and SELF RAPE. The tampon is nothing more than a PHALLUS that society FORCES us to PENETRATE our sacred vaginae(sic).” Soooo, tampon rape – because society.

It may seem as if I’m being flippant here, in fact I’m totally ready to support any person who wants to make choices for period management that suit them and their personal situation best.
Just as an aside; I read today that the entire concept of deliberate free bleeding is based upon a 2012 ‘hoax’ posting on 4chan followed by a number of well-placed tweets – fact or fiction: You decide. The truth is there are blog posts about free bleeding going back to at least 2004.

Free bleeding is a concept – not a feminist movement designed to give the finger to the patriarchy. I’ve taken part in discussions where people will admit to going without any type of product to absorb/collect their menstrual blood on their ‘staying home’ lighter bleeding days. Many people who have periods will have times when their underwear, clothing, towels and even sheets are accidentally stained. I’ve listened to stories of period stained white couches, flooded hotel beds and droplets in a line on the carpet – periods happen. People bleed. Underwear is scrubbed and soaked.

I’ve also read the forums – it seems that some people choose to go without ‘protection’
• on their light days
• on a lazy day around the house
• while sleeping on a dark towel
• wearing black pants and underwear

Other period people talk about ‘wiping’ the blood before it exits the vagina, or anticipating a ‘gush’ and either clenching the vaginal muscles or heading to the toilet. I’ll presume that they happily sit upon a towel to protect their furniture too. Obviously people’s periods vary in amount and length. Deal with them however you choose. Just remember that researchers believe that as late as the 17th century women in Britain and America just bled into their clothing and even today there are cultures where women bleed into their clothing, including in parts of India, Africa and also the Amazon.

I’m going to let ‘Mary’ have the last word

Mary says:
24 April 2015 at 5:41 am
I’ve been PROUDLY free bleeding with my wife for 3 years now! =D I actually like the blood “stains” on my clothes. I see them as badges of honour given to me for being a warrior in this oppressive world for women!
Rawr!

Sexuality educator with over 10 years experience. Based in Melbourne, Australia I specialise in tailor-made programs for schools and specialist schools as well as Body Safety and Awareness programs for younger children (ages 3-12). HUSHeduction are LGBTIQ (SSAAGD) welcoming and work with young people of all faiths and abilities.

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