Although a new organization on campus, the Menstrual Equity Club is already making a big difference in the way that menstruation is perceived.
According to Shannon Cobb, a sophomore psychology major and club vice president, the club aims to educate and raise awareness about menstrual health and period poverty, which is still a relatively taboo topic, even in America.
“The menstrual movement is bringing periods out into the open,” Cobb said. “Our club, and others, are breaking down a stigma.”
Since the club was founded and started in 2019, the club has yet to host an event. However, their first event, a menstrual product drive in conjunction with the campus food pantry, is happening soon.
Other events that the club will be hosting include webinars, social media campaigns, presentations and donation drives.
Cobb and Rylie Wieseler, a sophomore global studies major and president of the menstrual equity club, learned about the menstrual movement on National Period Day, Oct. 10, by attending an event held at the Idaho Capitol last year.
“The Boise Period Project has done a lot of great work in the Boise community,” Cobb said. “We wanted to bring the menstrual movement to Boise State, so we started a club on campus. It’s a really important topic that we need to shed more light on.”
Club member Denise Hutchins, a nontraditional student and illustration major, feels the club is a judgement-free place where menstruators and non-menstruators alike can discuss the importance of information regarding menstruation.
“This club has no gimmicks; it’s very straight-forward and aware of the fact that there are people, both on campus and off, who might need menstrual information or products. Those people might not necessarily identify as a cis woman,” Hutchins said.
The club creates a sense of community among members and non-members because it’s open and accepting of all people, according to Hutchins.
“It’s designed with the idea in mind that anybody might need this information,” Hutchins said.
For Hutchins, the problem with menstrual equity is that many people don’t realize it’s a problem that needs to be discussed more frequently.
“As a cis-gendered woman who grew up with periods, I can’t instinctively understand the needs and experiences of other people who grew up differently,” Hutchins said.
Hutchins mentions transgender people who might need access to information and products. Unknowing of the support people may have, the club aims to be inclusive.
“The menstrual experience is so huge and diverse that we can’t possibly know the needs of so many different people,” Hutchins said.
Wieseler feels this issue should be an issue that the entire population is aware of. She encourages all people to join the club, cisgender men and other non-menstruators included.
“We try to have our space be inclusive. That’s why we use the term ‘menstruators’ instead of ‘women.’ Many people menstruate who do not identify as women,” Wieseler said.
Wieseler feels that sex education is not sufficient in America. Growing up, Wieseler never knew or understood aspects of her own body because of this lack of education.
“We aim to educate,” Wieseler said. “You can’t solve an issue without people knowing about it.”
Wieseler wants the Menstrual Equity Club to empower people who menstruate. She wants voices to be heard, especially in legislation, which is often male-centric.
“The biggest way we can break down this stigma is by talking about it openly,” Wieseler said. “We need to show people that they don’t need to be afraid or hesitant. It’s just a biological process; there’s no need to feel ashamed.”