MHC students fight menstrual poverty with ‘Bleeding Us Dry’ campaign
Third-year Medicine Hat College art students Alyssa Fonteyne, Jenna Maertz, Jorden MacPhee and Katelyn Richard were the group that spearheaded this year’s Time of Poverty campaign, themed Bleeding Us Dry.
The campaign lasted two weeks, from November 1 to 15.
“We were more behind the scenes,” Maertz said. “We were thinking about how ‘Bleeding Us Dry’ relates to money and how it (menstruation) literally bleeds us out of money.”
Richard wanted to play on this idea and on women having to choose between buying food, household items, bills or buying period products.
“We came up with the idea of begging on the street for vintage goods rather than cash,” she said. “That’s where we got the idea for the campaign. We really liked the idea of the cardboard panel. We used it as a reminder throughout the campaign.
At first the group did a photo shoot, but their instructor, Ian Richmond, really liked the panel, so they opted for that.
“We took photos of the people around the community (with the sign) and made a blurb of their story about how they can relate to it (time of poverty),” Maertz said.
The panels were all handmade because the band loved the artisanal side. For each person they photographed, they added a different tagline, such as: “on the rag” or “this time of the month.”
MacPhee talked about how embarrassing it is that men avoid the topic or don’t buy menstrual products.
“There aren’t a lot of guys in our program to start with, so I’m surrounded by women,” MacPhee said. “Katelyn is my girlfriend and she has period issues. I see it all the time. I grew up with my mom and sister at home. Seeing all of this and seeing how scared some guys are to talk about it or going to buy menstrual products sucks.It’s literally no different than buying cotton balls, it’s just a product in a box.
Fonteyne is passionate about the subject and identifies with the struggle of women.
“I don’t think periods should be stigmatized and it’s frustrating to see people hesitate or be embarrassed by them,” she said. “I don’t think men should make a fuss about it. It’s just a normal human function and a lot of people go through it. I was really happy to be part of the campaign.
The goal of the annual campaign is to raise awareness while raising funds or donations of menstrual products that can be donated to Root Cellar for distribution to the wider community. As of this writing, the total amount raised through this year’s campaign is unknown.
SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Medicine Hat News