? ?

So, a few months ago, I bought my first cup. It was a bit of an impulse buy--I wanted to go swimming, and I had my period. Because I needed it that day, I went to the only brick-and-mortar store I'd seen that sold cups (Capers), and bought the only cup they had, which was the diva. I guess this idea had been on my mind for a while, but it took something a cup could do for me that a pad couldn't to push me over the edge.

Before this, I was very much a pad girl. I have never been a fan of internal methods. Too much poking and hurting and feeling weird pressure from inside. In the past, when I needed an internal option for something, I would wear a tampon for a few hours, and switch back to pads ASAP. But a few years ago, I developed an allergy to commercial disposable pads. I went through pretty much every brand, and Stayfree was okay for a while, until they changed to "New and Improved!" which was not an improvement for me! I remember going to every drug store in the county, buying up all the old packages that weren't "New and Improved." When I ran out of those, I found Natracare pads, which are wonderful, but very hard to find in some areas. Since moving to a city, they're a lot more accessible, but it was still annoying having to make a special trip just for them, and worrying about how I would get them if I moved back to a rural area.

I know at this point you are thinking, "But what about cloth pads?" I can tell you that I gave them serious consideration, because at one point I was desperate. Not only was the price prohibitive (and I didn't feel confident making my own) but I have to be realistic with myself and what I can do. I know a lot of users say it is just a small extra task, but these people are not me. They already accomplish a great many things I cannot. They regularly do their laundry, wash their dishes, take showers, pick up clutter, sweep and mop and/or vacuum, and in general stay on top of their lives. They are capable people. I have a mental disability, and for me, these things are hard. I'm not at all proud of this, but I'm a slob, and no, changing that is not just a matter of trying harder, because there has never been a time when I have not been trying, so please think before you say something judgmental and hurtful. I've been at the point where all my underwear were stained and in a pile and sat there for months, so when I got my period I had nothing to put a pad on. If I cannot wash my underwear for my own good, I cannot wash reusable pads. This is true of me some of the time even when I have free time, and sometimes I have worked jobs with 10-12 hour days of hard labor. At those times I felt I had no extra time in my day--it was work, eat, sleep, and sometimes I felt I didn't have enough time for eating or sleeping. Showering had to wait till my days off, even if I was filthy. Also, repeatedly over the last few years, I have been in and out of homelessness. When you are homeless, you have enough problems without trying to figure out where to wash and dry your reusable pads.

In short, reusable pads are a great option for many people. I don't feel they are a good option for me.

The cup therefore appealed to my desire to have a reliable menstrual product that would always be there for me, that was safe for me to use, that did not require a lot of upkeep, and since I already had it, using it instead of pads would also save money.

I got the small Diva, since I'm 26 (was 25 at the time) with no kids, and also, even though I'm tall, I think my vagina is on the small side. I tried it on with the stem, and promptly yanked it out and cut the entire stem off before trying again. All the stem seemed to do was poke me in the urethra, which was about as pleasant as a poke in the eye. I've never felt I needed the stem for removal, so that's fine! (I don't like that the packaging said not to trim off all the stem. No stem is better for some people.)

Other impressions of the Ddva, let's see...the packaging was very pink, which made me eyeroll a bit. At least the cup itself was clear. There was also a pin I could wear, so I could announce to the world, "Guess what I have in my vagina!" I am not known as a timid person when it comes to these things, and I have told people I was trying cups, but even I balk at turning myself into Divacup's unpaid marketing campaign. Could they make the diva a bit cheaper without all that fancy packaging and the pin and whatnot? It seemed a bit unnecessary. The Divawash also seemed a bit sketchy. I thought part of the joy of owning a cup was saying goodbye to dependence on outside forces for your menstruation for the next decade or so? I know you might say, "But the Divacup makers are a small company and they're the good guys!" but dependence is dependence. If I'm spending money on a product, and especially if it's a product that's not easy to find, I'm not feeling all that liberated, here. So I skipped the wash. I've been cleaning it with soap and water, with a hydrogen peroxide soak at the end of the cycle. These items are cheap, easy to find, and things I would have in the house anyway.

The actual usage was worse, though. At first it seemed great, I got it in, got it to open, no leaks, felt a bit weird (like a need to pee, or a need to masturbate, where neither is actually what I want when I try to do it) but by the end of the day, the dull pain that had been slowly building was unbearable. I took it out and used pads for a few days to recover. Then I tried the cup again on the light days toward the end of my period, and seemed to have gotten the rhythm down, not only no pain, but I didn't even feel it most of the time.

Encouraged, I tried it again the next month, but was dismayed to find that not only was the pain back, but it was leaking constantly. Well, leaking might be the wrong word. More like gushing. I felt like 5-10 minutes after inserting it, it was already overflowing. And yes, I made sure my cervix was actually in the cup.

I turned to the internet for advice, and found this community. :) I was able to figure out that the pain was because my cup was too long, and also because of the shape. My cervix sits pretty low, and with the angle of my vagina, the rather acute tip of the diva was being pressed hard into the anterior wall of the vagina, just inside the pelvis. There was no doubt this was the source of my pain--when I held the cup away from that spot, the pain eased, and when I let go, the shape of my vagina forced it again into that spot. It was like some kind of pressure point or something, and the pain radiated through my vulva. I couldn't get it up higher because it was already hooked under my cervix (which protrudes considerably), and I couldn't get it lower without it sticking out of my body, and anyway it would either be crushed flat or sucked back in in that position. I figured out that my cervix actually GOES FOR A WALK during my cycle, and is lowest on my heaviest days. So on my lighter days, the diva sat high enough to be comfortable, but on heavy days, it was being pushed down into the Zone of Pain.

I got the trick of turning it inside-out from you guys, thanks for that! That definitely helped with the pain, but what it didn't help with was capacity, which went from poor to basically useless. And of course, I only needed to turn it inside-out on my heaviest days! Well, at this point, I realized I needed a new cup.

I did my research, and selected the large fleurcup, for the large capacity, and being a relatively low, squat model, in addition to the rounded bottom. What a contrast it is to the pointy end of my diva, which looks like some kind of torture device! It did take more than a month to arrive, which was a bummer, and once I got it, I ended up losing the purse I was carrying it in before I had a chance to use it. D: I was devastated. Happily, I got the purse back, cup and all!

Now, I've gotta say, a real downside to cups for the masses is the fact that these things aren't cheap (and it takes a while to get them), so you could end up spending a lot of money and time figuring out which cup is right for you. I know people keep saying cups save you money, but apparently this is a really long-term investment, because you lose money in the short run trying to find a cup that fits. There needs to be more awareness that every cup does not work for every vagina, so people can research the cup that will fit them in advance. This seems to be a lot more complicated than small/large. I had no idea when I bought the diva that it might not fit me!

I had trouble inserting the fleur at first, using the 7-fold, which worked best with my diva. But with the punch-down, it started working for me. It definitely works a lot better for me than the diva! On light days, I can go the whole twelve hours before taking it out and washing it, and on heavy days, I can at least get a couple hours out of it, instead of having to run to the bathroom every ten minutes. (At that point, I might as well just spend my whole period sitting on a pot, because I ain't leavin' the house.) It generally seems to perform as well as or better than pads, which is nice.

The fleur does occasionally get jammed into the Zone of Pain, but this is a lot less painful than when the diva does it, due to the shape of the cup. Oh, and when I open it, sometimes it thwacks my cervix, but this doesn't actually hurt, it's just a little disconcerting to hear a *thwack* from one's vagina. I tried opening it lower, but then I have trouble getting it to open fully. It just really, really wants to open there.

I did wake up in a pool of blood this morning, though my flow was so heavy, I don't know if a pad would have helped much either. It seems like overkill to have to use both, but I don't know, maybe one night a month I'll just have to.

The community here has been very helpful for researching the right cup for me, and also tricks like turning it inside out, folding options, etc. For that I am grateful, and I'm really glad you're all here. But there's something else I've noticed among cup advocates that's a bit less good. There's a lot of "green guilting," and lecturing about environmental impact. I don't want to give the impression that I don't care about the environment, because I do, I really, really do. But lifestyle changes and environmental impact are both complex issues. I have made some choices in my life to try to reduce my impact on the ecosystem (for example, a bicycle is my main transportation, and I make the extra effort to recycle, even though separating my trash is sometimes mentally difficult for me, and containers sit around for weeks with stuff growing on them waiting to be washed and sorted, because I will not give up and throw them out!) but I honestly think real change has to be systemic, that we will not fix our problems with a few hippies making an extra effort against the system. Think about how much more was recycled when recycling trucks started coming to residential streets instead of requiring environmentally-conscious people to go to recycling centers, or how much easier it is to convince people to cycle when there are bike lanes in place, or how a few well-placed laws can force corporations to be more respectful of the environment on a large scale. I really do not think Gaia lives or dies based purely on what I stuff in my hooch.

Given the fact that the diva was actually causing me pain, I felt resentful that I should have to deal with my ladybits suffering, or else I'm a bad person who is killing Mother Earth. (In fact, I am a bad person who is killing Mother Earth even with the cup. Most of us who live in first-world countries are. The laptop I'm typing on is probably worth 20 years of pads in environmental impact.) I just didn't like the way when people asked about options, there was a lot of pressure to choose washable pads or cups, and not tampons or disposable pads. Yes, making less waste is good, but it is not the only factor when weighing the options, and it's a decision I want to make for myself, not be guilted or shamed into.

There was such passion for the cup, and such pressure to convert others, it reminded me of another group of people I encountered and was a member of--Linux users. See, I read this book, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), which talks about self-justification and various cognitive biases we have. One of the biases is that if we put more effort into something, we think it's better. (This is kind of like how we think $90 wine tastes better than $15 wine, even if it's the same wine.) Then people who have made that kind of decision need others to validate their choice by making the same one. This was applied to how people in a cult need to recruit new cult members to make themselves feel that joining a cult was the right thing to do.

Now, I've heard a lot of things about Linux's superiority, how it works just as well as Windows or better in pretty much everything, how it's so easy a beginner can just hop right in, about what a utopia we'd have if everyone was on free, open-source software. Now, you can do some great things with Linux, and it's a perfectly serviceable operating system. That said, I hope you like searching forums for hours or days trying to figure out everything from how to get your computer to boot the live CD (I've had this problem on several computers, with several different builds), or why the sound won't work on a fresh install, or how to get this new program you thought was cool to actually function, or why the last update or something new you installed just broke everything, especially if that thing was your boot manager. I have never had so much hairpulling as I have trying to get things work on Linux. I hate having to say, "Sorry, I can't look at that page now, my last update completely broke Java and despite uninstalling and reinstalling it, I can't get Firefox to recognize that it's there." And you know what? Everyone I know who's tried Linux (and wasn't some kind of programming whiz) has had the same kind of problems.

But several of these users, who admit to spending hours pulling out their hair trying to solve problems they don't understand, still push the superiority of Linux, and try to convince others to install it on their computers.

Disposable pads and tampons, like Windows, "just work." Out of the box. You don't have to measure the length from your cervix to your vestibule, and there's a lot less of a learning curve. There's also just a lot more pawing around inside your vagina with cups--even with tampons, between strings and applicators, you don't really go fishing in there much. I never had to go online to understand how to properly use a pad or a tampon. I know there are convenience advantages to reusable methods too, like not having to go out to the store (unless you run out of DivaWash!) just as Windows has its little inanities, but I wish we would be fair about the pros and cons and trust people to make the decisions that are best for them, rather than slanting things towards reusable methods and shaming anyone who doesn't use those. It's a very personal decision, you know?

I think where I got the most angry was when I saw this article on pad use by poor women in developing areas of Africa. The short version: girls in some of these areas miss a lot of school because they have no menstrual products, so Procter and Gamble donated some. Apparently this is bad because it pollutes. Polluting is bad, yes, but it's such a widespread and systemic problem that to focus specifically on pad use by impoverished women in developing countries is just so unbelievably sexist and classist and I don't even have words. Because, yeah, the real reason the Earth is being destroyed is because a woman in a developing country, who probably does not even have electricity in her home, used a disposable pad so she could go to school. We people in the developed world, we can have our elaborate packaging and our cars and our ridiculous toys and waste waste waste, but god forbid those poor women have anything.

Let me tell you something, the poorer you are, the harder it is to make the "right" choices. I want to take a picture of shelves in my local supermarket, because you can get a large bag of chips for less than a can of beans. And you know what? Sometimes I got the chips just because they'd give me a full feeling, even though I knew it was hardly a balanced dinner. I want to do the right thing, I want to buy local and organic, but buying environmentally-destructive crap is barely affordable--buying local and organic is a joke. If you have the money, if you're middle-class, then yeah, it's "just a little more," and you can make that call. It's completely unfair to shame the poor for buying the food they can afford.

Another example of this: on the surface, it seems like owning a bike is cheaper than a car, right? Except when you're poor, you can't afford to live near where there are jobs. You get priced way the fuck out into the boonies, and when it's 40-80 miles to get to work, biking isn't really a viable option. What you lose on gas you save on rent, so again, it's actually cheaper to do something more destructive to the environment (like commuting 160 miles a day) that also sucks for you. Oh, and your car is also less fuel-efficient, because it's old and poorly-maintained, because that's all you can afford.

I could go on all day. The more you have, the easier it is to do the "right thing." So why are the poor under the most pressure to give things up? These are already people with nothing.

I like my cup and I plan to continue using it, and I would love to see cups become more mainstream, but I also think we need to stop with the hard sell and respect women's right to make decisions about what they use on their bodies. For example, I told a close friend I was trying cups, and offered to boil mine and let her try it out to see if she liked it. We talked some about vaginal characteristics, and apparently her cervix is really, really low, so there wouldn't be room for a cup, and her flow is also very heavy, so a smaller cup wouldn't do. I didn't lecture her on it. She was comfortable with the methods she was using, they worked best for her, and I don't feel it would have been right of me to judge her for not using reusable products. It isn't my place to make that decision for her.

I also feel a little uncomfortable with people telling me, "Good for you!" like I'm doing something great by switching to a cup. Right now, this is the most convenient thing for me. I don't know if that will change later, but it could, and if it does, I will keep doing what I think is best for me and my vagina, because when I think of areas in my life where I want to sacrifice for a good cause, sorry, my vaginal comfort just isn't one of them. I'm not doing this as activism, so I don't think I deserve backpats for it.

And I think if you really want it to take off into the mainstream, you have to accept that the majority of women aren't going to make the decision based on things like environmental activism. Most people just are not activists.

Wow, sorry this was so long...I guess I had a lot of thoughts.

On another note, since I love my fleurcup so much more, I don't think I'll be using the diva again. But what was the wrong shape for me might be the right shape for someone else. I'd love to boil it and give it to someone it might fit better who doesn't have a lot of money. I went looking for a charity or something for used-but-still-good cups, but all I found was discussions on how cups are a bad match for women in developing countries because of a shortage of clean water (and the MPower, which seems to disagree). But what about poor women in the developed world, for whom clean water is generally easy to come by, but still have a lot of financial need?
a clockwork cuttlefishcastalianspring on March 3rd, 2011 04:42 am (UTC)
You might try your local Freecycle network, or perhaps a women's shelter or charity.
Comrade: Susan sparklyaiffe on March 3rd, 2011 05:42 am (UTC)
*nod* Good ideas, though I worry maybe the people who need it the most wouldn't be online? I should contact a women's shelter, I'm just kind of scared they'll be like, "A used sanitary product? UNCLEAN!"
(no subject) - queensneak83 on March 3rd, 2011 08:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
Melon the Sleepermelonaise on March 3rd, 2011 05:07 am (UTC)
We do get college students coming through here sometimes looking for cups on the cheap. They aren't really poor, but they do have limited income. The hard part of getting to the women you'd like to reach is they don't spend a lot of time on the internet. You could try a local women's shelter. They usually need menstrual products. You might have to explain menstrual cups to whoever takes donations.

I'm not doing this as activism, so I don't think I deserve backpats for it.

I know how you feel here. I don't drive for a variety of reasons, and having less environmental impact is very last reason on the list. It's really only on the list because I get it for free.

I do think it'd be better to find a menstruation product that women in developing areas could either reuse (like cups) or provide for themselves (like cloth pads). Companies would have to continually provide disposable pads for that to be a long-term option, and the women would be dependent on that source. Cut off the supply and they're back to the menstrual hut.
Comrade: Susan starlightaiffe on March 3rd, 2011 06:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, I know a lot of college students don't have it easy. Especially those without help from their families. They enter the work force in debt, and if they're women, even if they get jobs they're paid significantly less than a man with the same degree. I know several people who got degrees that wound up being useless, and were stuck with the bill, and more and more in this economy, a college education is not a guarantee of a job. So I don't have a problem with helping out college students.

I do understand the corporate exploitation angle, but that wasn't the angle the article took, which was part of what angered me. Yeah, I do think it is kind of sinister that these corporations are "hooking" new people on their products. I agree that they're predatory. I've side-eyed acts of charity before: personally, I think Toys for Tots is there to make sure poor children still get Christmas indoctrination, since Christmas is pretty much all that keeps the economy floating, and it's when stores make most of their money.

But looking at it from the perspective of the women, the worst case scenario is they end up back where they started. At least this gives them a fighting chance at a better future because they can get an education. I certainly don't think the motives of the corporations are pure, but if they help some women get ahead, I can't condemn it.

Reusable options are good too! I'm certainly not saying, "No, only give disposable products to women in developing countries!" But if disposable products are what's accessible to them, then that's what they'll use. And there have been a number of issues raised about cups in developing areas, like clean water, sharing cups without proper health education, and social mores about virginity. For some women in some areas, these won't be a problem, but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution.

There's also the matter of convenience. It might seem trivial, but their lives are already so hard, and they already have so much work to do. For some, one extra task like washing cloth pads might be nothing to them, but for others, liberation from every bit of drudgery could be time and energy they can spend to improve their lives.

I'm not arguing that disposable options are better, but they each have pros and cons, and that it's a bit hypocritical for people in developed countries to say that people in developing countries shouldn't have these options because they're bad for the environment, while we ourselves (as a culture, not as individuals) cling to them. Like, maybe we should clean our own house before we start getting snobby about someone else's?
ex_stateofb on March 3rd, 2011 05:07 am (UTC)
Who insinuated that you are a bad person for not using cloth or for having trouble with the cup? I've been in this community for several months now and I don't think I've ever seen "green guilting" among this group.
rypoff22 on March 3rd, 2011 06:25 am (UTC)
I agree; I've found this community to be a very welcoming place.
(no subject) - aiffe on March 3rd, 2011 06:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - m03m on March 3rd, 2011 08:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aiffe on March 3rd, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
rypoff22 on March 3rd, 2011 06:33 am (UTC)
One of the problems cups are having with going mainstream is the cultural association of menstrual blood (and vaginas! unless it's for sex! and then only if she's not a slut! *eyeroll*)with uncleanliness.
Comrade: Sara Kingdom unf unf unfaiffe on March 3rd, 2011 06:49 am (UTC)
Yeah, I have encountered some of that. Like, I was surprised at how many women wouldn't take a bath while on their period, especially without a tampon. A nice, hot bath helps relieve cramps. I've even found it to shorten my period slightly. But the fear seemed to be that dirty nasty menses would get all over you. And like, it's already in your vagina, how much more personal is it gonna get? It's not like I'd come out of the bath stained red or smelling like menses. And you can always rinse off for like 30 seconds in the shower if you're really worried.

A clever marketer could probably play on it in reverse, though, since with a cup, there's even less outward sign that you're menstruating. Even if you were naked, no one could tell unless they fingered you. In situations like public showers, there's no dangly string. This plays into the desire many women have to be private about when they're menstruating, and even for it to be like they're not menstruating at all. It does mean that the woman has to touch her vagina and handle her own blood more, but as long as ~no one else knows~, it might be socially acceptable.
pakapoa on March 3rd, 2011 12:05 pm (UTC)
I have visited Kenya and I saw P&G products there. Disposable products have been in Africa since colonization. Disposable is a matter of affording, just like anywhere else in the world.

In Kenya, I noticed, most schools require a girl be prepared for their period either by buying disposable and if they can't afford then make them using rags and they are even shown how to. So periods didn't start for African women just now, they have been having them. What me and my classmates use to do is that if we wanted to ditch school for that day, we would lie to the nurse about our periods. I noticed this same trend in Kenya, where a girl would cry her period is on, or her mom can't afford disposal and then be off the hook and not go to school. I would later see the same girl hanging out with other girls or with a boyfriend.

I have always said that all that 'trash' out there was not produced by humans but by earth it self the human just didn't have a need for it and put it in a land fill. Most trash will get eradicated simply by burning. All waste comes from the earth not mars.

I didn't change to the cup because of the environment. To me the environment can go to hell. I have clean water, my neighborhood is clean and that's what matters to me. In Kenya, we stayed at a nice hotel produced a lot of waste. The city was clean until you got to the slums, it's almost like going to the hood in Detroit. The idea of never carrying tampons and never running out of supplies was the selling point for me.

The other day, a lady asked me why I don' get my period. What she didn't know is that I was actually menstruating. She had been watching me for a while and noticed that I never have any supplies ever. Never even complained about periods, bloating any of that. She said she envied me because I was always the same every month and that she can never depend on me for supplies. What the hell? Get your own stuff ladies! Anyhow, We work together me and her at her home. This is what I wanted, to be set free from wrappers, applicators, supplies and people snooping all over my vaginal business. What's funny, we decided to go on a trip. Poor thing kept wondering where to put her pads. That was her first priority, while for me it was shoes. This really perplexed her. I haven't told her what I use, am not sure I want to.
m03m on March 3rd, 2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
If the environment goes to hell... guess where you'll be?
(no subject) - samerri on March 3rd, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - happytree923 on March 3rd, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pakapoa on March 3rd, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aiffe on March 3rd, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pakapoa on March 3rd, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aiffe on March 3rd, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pakapoa on March 3rd, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pikkewyntjie on March 11th, 2011 09:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pakapoa on March 12th, 2011 12:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
happytree923 on March 3rd, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
But... Cups are better for the environment. Are we supposed to not say anything about that fact in case someone interprets it as green guilting?
I believe women should be able to make an informed choice about what menstrual product they use. Most women don't know about the alternatives to pads and tampons, so if we give other people that information, I don't see how that's anything but positive. Not pressuring, but informing.
Comrade: Kiriaiffe on March 3rd, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
They are, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. I may be mentally impaired, but I can tell the difference between a full wastebin and an empty one. But putting the focus on menstrual products in the vast sea of waste we accept as a "necessary evil" seems an error of priorities, and worse, that feeling of a job well done when one has made only a small change is a notch above slactivism.

I also believe in informed choices. I'm not saying environmental effects should be whispered about, but the point should not be belabored either. A woman should not feel that if she chooses disposable products because they meet her needs best, she is personally killing the Earth with her vagina. That's not much of a choice, you know? Do the right thing, or you're letting the entire world down.

Scroll up a bit and look at my thread with pakapoa for an example of how the average person thinks. In America, only 18% of people believe climate change is real. [source] And even of those who do, many believe they are better consumers than they are. Hey, they recycle (well, the stuff that the truck comes for, long as the container wasn't too dirty or they weren't in a hurry) they use cloth bags, they buy the stuff with a green label that wasn't a sterling example of greenwashing at all they "like" all the right Facebook groups, they're vegetarian, they use a crystal for deodorant, whatever. By seeing all these things as "helping" instead of reduced harm, and glossing over the amount of harm they still do, they get a skewed perspective of their "good karma." And it irritates me, because I think their backpats are a bit premature.

Not saying that trying to reduce environmental harm is bad, ever! Just that we need to be realistic about what it does and doesn't do. Women have enough complexes about their vaginas being evil somehow without being convinced their vagina is literally destroying the world.
(no subject) - happytree923 on March 4th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - samerri on March 4th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aiffe on March 4th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - happytree923 on March 6th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aiffe on March 6th, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
[an OT aside] - pikkewyntjie on March 11th, 2011 09:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
uathannuathann on March 3rd, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
*applauds* That's a great post! You opened my eyes on the "can't do the best thing for the environment if I'm broke" thing, thank you for that.
nofixedstarsnofixedstars on March 4th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
you raised a lot of points that resonated with me...and yes, there are aspects of cup use that can have political, social justice, and environmental ramifications.

i concur about the financial difficulty of trying multiple cups to find the ones that work best for one's own body---it would be so brilliant if there were more complete, easy ways to see the possibilities in cups with their pros & cons for various people. this forum is great for that, but it's not fool-proof, & it can be hard to find the comparison charts that do exist. plus you have to know this comm exists in the first place. i'd love to see things get to a point where girls get to see & handle various cups in school as part of their hygiene education. and i'd love it if enough women were using cups that mainstream retailers had them on the shelves at more affordable prices.

finances have a HUGE impact on choices people are able to make. this does tend to get left out of the dialogue about eco-friendly options, health care options, schooling options, nutrition options...fact is, if you cannot afford to make a choice, you can't---no matter how much you may want to. and of course, judgment of someone's personal choices is not usually appropriate; we don't have to agree with everything everyone else does, but there's no need to judge the person. especially when one considers how every person's life situation is different. it's not likely to happen while business interests hold power, but it would be a better world if things that were best for the environment and best for people were more available and cost less than the more polluting & unhealthy options. i can dream...

your mention of the donation of fem-hyg supplies to poor women struck me, because i swear i was just thinking about that sort of thing myself very recently. not the P & G donation specifically; just thinking how useful it could be if cup manufacturers donated cups to women in need here or abroad. even given the shortage of water available to women in some places, i think cups could be very helpful. i don't boil mine or anything, ever. i just wash it off when i wash my hands; and let's face it, our best practice guidelines for cup sterilization, etc are more to protect cup companies than they are truly needed. commonsense handling of a cup is usually enough to stay healthy using it, and women in developing countries could manage that, i believe. indeed, it would be a better alternative for many to cloth pads, which require more water & time to wash. i agree, poor girls missing school due to a lack of fem hyg products is awful, and if donated disposables allow them to get on with school, i'm not going to bitch. but i think cups could help too. nothing ever has to be either/or, and generally the most productive approach is inclusive.

very possibly someone on this comm might happily take your used diva off your hands and pay the postage too...students, people who need a bigger cup but aren't in a position to shell out the money right this moment, lots of folks. it's just possible that you might bump into someone amongst your acquaintances who might be curious to try a cup & be ok with getting a used one from you also.

i agree that guilt is not the best form of motivation for anything, including choosing "green" products. i think better motivations are love, or compassion, or pleasure, or a recognition that we are all connected, or a desire to be part of a solution. and i suspect that much of what may come across as over-zealousness in one case, or back-patting in another, in this comm, is really just people delighting in something that makes their lives better in tangible ways, and the natural wish to share that with others.

on a more frivolous note, your linux descriptions brought a wry chuckle from me. my bf works in IT, and he bitches about the linux bigots---that's his exact term---in exactly the same way. not that he is anti-linux himself; he just doesn't like it when the ardent linux exponents force it through & eff up systems apps that would have been a breeze with windows for no reason other than that they adore linux...

Comrade: Aang meditatingaiffe on March 4th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, I would absolutely love to see cup options be more transparent. You know how places that sell auto parts have a little booklet on the shelf that tells you what part # you need for what car? There should be something like that for cups, like, a little booklet with diagrams that explains what cup is best for what anatomy. Or maybe ob/gyns could also make recommendations to interested parties. I wonder about the price going down, though. Even Divacup tells you to replace it every year, when everyone says medical grade silicone is good for ten years. Our economy is built on planned obsolescence. The fact that people can use it longer will make them want to charge more, not less, and/or make it lower quality so it will need replacing more often.

This community was a huge help to me in finding the right cup, but I had to buy the wrong cup first before I went looking for help. I didn't know there could be such a thing as "the wrong cup."

I remember when I was seriously considering cloth pads, I brought it up with my mom, and she not only thought cleaning them would be an issue for me, but when I showed her the price, she was just like, "Not now." I live on my own now, and make my own financial decisions, but if she'd seen me buy two cups, she'd be questioning my financial judgment. I know it can help in the long term, but when you're living hand to mouth as she often has, all you see is how you're going to get to the end of the month, or the end of the week.

As long as the "wrong" choices are cheaper and easier and legal, I don't think we're going to see large-scale change. A friend of mine points out that in the decline from peak oil, environmentally-friendlier options will actually become cheaper than petroleum, and since it'll be more profitable to focus on these options, they may figure out how to do them even cheaper. I don't know; as a society, we've dug ourselves into a pretty deep ditch.

And yes, I've seen charities giving washable pads and cups to women in need too, and I'm all for that. The predatory motives of the corporations do also concern me. That article just made my hackles rise, because I think it's sick that the people with the least resources should be held to the highest standards of consumer ethics.

Also, yeah, I admit I haven't boiled any of my cups yet, even though I know you can. I did soak the diva in a bit of hydrogen peroxide to brighten it up. I've heard since that maybe that wasn't the best idea, because it can damage the silicone? It seems okay to me, but maybe it shouldn't be done all the time. I heard vinegar is good, it's what they use to clean silicone catheters.

And if anyone reading this needs a small divacup and can't pay a lot, they should PM me! :) I would send it for shipping to the right person.

I think my frustration is that I see a lot of the green movement as penny-wise and dollar-foolish. Saving pennies is good! Feeling fiscally responsible when you save pennies and waste dollars is a bit...iffy. We have huge problems as a society, and a lot of our fixes are just band-aids. Consumer choice as protest wasn't a bad idea, but it has problems: one, decades in, and it still hasn't really gained enough support to make a serious dent; two, it's confused and derailed by greenwashing; and three, corporations like to trap people in situations where their consumers don't just choose them, they're completely dependent on them. Grassroots just is not working, and now that we've given it a good try, we can see how we were set up to fail. Corporations are better at getting public support, pure and simple. They create an illusion of an endless supply of resources, and hide the damage. For all it may feel good to feel like you're helping, it feels even better to buy into the delusion that there are no problems at all.

Feelings like love and compassion are all well and good, but they are not how the majority make their choices. Most people make their choices based on things like habit and convenience, what's easy and what's "normal." They follow the path of least resistance.
(no subject) - aiffe on March 4th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Meghanmegamuphen on March 4th, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
I enjoyed your post a lot. Especially the Linux comparison. :-)
norainonsundaynorainonsunday on March 4th, 2011 07:58 am (UTC)
I'm wondering if a lot of the attitudes you have criticized here have been from sources other than this website? Personally, on this community I see a lot of people excited about cups, promoting the benefits of cups, but the moment I have seen anyone come into this community to say "I tried cups(/cloth pads), and they're not for me," I've never seen anything but supportive responses here. I certainly don't think anyone has to justify their preferred choice of menstrual products to anyone else.

I hope the pro-cup attitudes here aren't being misinterpreted. I can see how people might take issue with arguments like "obviously cups are a better choice - yay us for making the better choice!" but I think there is a big difference between saying cups are empirically better and saying "These are the things I like about cups" or "this is why a cup was the better choice for me".
Comrade: Dodoaiffe on March 4th, 2011 08:03 am (UTC)
It's possible. I've been lurking in a couple of places. Some of them were links I followed from here. I've also seen a few of the same people in other places (such as YouTube) and here. It's a bit muddled in my head.
penguinkim on March 4th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
Ooook, I think I have alot to say...
First of all, I loved your post for what it represents! I love that we can have opinions and share them and that we can receive feedback as such (because, you know, feedback is validating.) I also enjoy your prose, you have a great ability for organizing your thoughts, which you will soon learn that I do not!) Second, your post annoyed the crap out of me, especially after reading all the comments. It's funny, I know I'm crazy, I have a keen ability to simultaneously hold contradicting viewpoints.
A bit about me, I'm no eco-superhero, nor do I desire to be. I think it's nice that some people care alot about the world and that they sometimes try to convince me to. I think eco-friendliness is not a bad thing at all. I don't use re-usable shopping bags, I don't ride my bike anywhere, I don't purposefully buy organic food (unless it tastes better, like bananas and whole milk) Overall, I'd say I'm just as damaging as the majority of my neighbors, but I see some semblance of benefit to making small changes to my lifestyle, even if it's just the hope of making a difference that I'm actually accomplishing.

I don't see ANY harm in people thinking they're making a difference. In this post and the subsequent comments, you frequently criticized people for feeling good about themselves for making lifestyle changes that may or may not benefit (or less harm) the earth. Why are people not allowed to feel good about themselves for doing something people are telling them is good? I understand that you may not actually think they are making a difference, but that's not your call to make! Plus, if they do something that makes them feel good, maybe next time they are faced with a decision that may or may not make a difference in the world, maybe they'll pick the one that truly is better...?

I don't see anything wrong with people using eco-friendliness as an argument for cups. Cups ARE a better choice in the scheme of things affecting the world. Maybe they're not a better choice for everyone, and that's fine, but it should be ok to praise someone for making that decision.

In response to "I also feel a little uncomfortable with people telling me, "Good for you!" like I'm doing something great by switching to a cup....I'm not doing this as activism, so I don't think I deserve backpats for it."
When people have opinions, we like to praise people who share that opinion. For example, when someone with heart disease eats healthy food because their doctor tells them they have to, someone may tell them, "good for you." That person shouldn't get mad just because the person thinks it's good to eat well. It would be like them saying, I'm not doing this because I make good decisions, I'm doing this so I don't die, so don't congratulate me!" Maybe that's not a good example, so please don't nitpik it, but maybe you get my point. Just try to understand that some people may think using a menstrual cup is a good thing, so they want you to know that they are proud of you for doing the same good thing.
penguinkim on March 4th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
One last thing, in response to, "I've also seen a bit of proselytizing to friends and family. I'm all for sharing experiences and letting them know the option's out there, but I get the feeling that for some people, it's important for them to convince others to give it a try. There's also a sense of pride when one wins converts. Score one for Mother Earth!"
I recently started using a different hair care routine. Once I realized how well it worked for me, I called my sister and told her all about it so she would try it, then i called my mom and did the same thing. As humans, we like to share our ideas, especially if they work for us, even if they are just discoveries. We want other people to 1. know that we have good ideas, 2. benefit from our ideas. My mom couldn't care less about my new hair care routine, however, my sister was really excited to try it, and it works really well for her. I think I probably feel the same way about sharing this with my sister as many people do about sharing cups, I really wanted her to try it. Yes, there IS a sense of pride when one wins converts! It's validating! It makes you feel good to know that other people have similar viewpoints as you!!!! Especially people who feel they are making a difference for Mother Earth, then they feel like they are making double difference. How would you feel if you convinced a friend of yours to ride their bike instead of drive a car...I bet you'd feel pretty good :) Is that such a bad thing?

Sorry if this was waaay too long for anyone's reading pleasure. I refuse to proofread this (because I need to go shower, I smell), so please ignore and excuse any typos, misspellings, or grammar mistakes :)
(no subject) - samerri on March 4th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - norainonsunday on March 5th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aiffe on March 6th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - norainonsunday on March 7th, 2011 07:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
Quitteriequitterie on March 22nd, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC)
commando ? :)
Hi aiffe :)

It's been a real pleasure to read your thread, all your viewpoints are extremely interesting. And, not thinking about the LJ community, but in a general way ;), it feels good - enriching to hear such 'non-casuist' thoughts ^..

Oh English isn't my mother tongue, and there's just this phrase that I don't understand, and it sounds fun...
Hm when you evoked the "commando" thing :o)
What does that mean ? eheh

All the best!
& Cheers to everyone ;D
Comrade: Pervy Oneaiffe on March 22nd, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
Re: commando ? :)
It's slang, it means wearing clothes with no underwear. :)
Re: commando ? :) - quitterie on March 22nd, 2011 06:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: commando ? :) - quitterie on March 22nd, 2011 06:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: commando ? :) - aiffe on March 22nd, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: commando ? :) - quitterie on March 22nd, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)