How I’m Shattering the Glass Ceiling in Unconventional Ways

Menstruation and music: two seemingly unrelated topics that have consistently been at the forefront of my endeavors over the past few years. In everything that I do, I strive to amplify the voices of the unheard and to shatter the glass ceiling. Whether I am working to promote the music of an up and coming artist or writing an article addressing the effects of the menstrual taboo on schoolgirls in Kenya, I am passionate about sharing the stories of others and paving the way for all the young women who will come after me.

 

 

Being a young woman in the music industry can be draining and disheartening. I have worked at a music video production company, a music PR firm, written for various music blogs and magazines, interned at a medium-size market radio station and worked my way up the ladder to being the station manager of my college’s radio station.  During most of these experiences, I faced a load of blatant sexism from co-workers, our clients, people working at venues, etc. Instead of allowing these experiences to deter me from being a part of something that I love, I have turned that frustration into a determination to change music industry culture.

 

Last year, I co-hosted a live radio interview with Michelle Norris, the first female African American NPR host, and we discussed the struggles that women face as they try to establish themselves in the radio industry. This experience was incredibly impactful and came at a time when I needed something to reinvigorate my faith in my own ability to revolutionize the industry for women.

 

A few months ago, I got involved with Girls Behind The Rock Show, a network of aspiring industry professionals. I was able to interview a handful of these women for a piece that was published in Her Culture Magazine entitled, “Taking Back The Music Industry One Woman At A Time.” I sought to gather firsthand experiences from women of all ages in the industry who face discrimination and harassment based on their sex. Writing this article allowed me to harness my gatekeeping abilities as an aspiring journalist to shine a light on an issue that mainstream media fails to address.

 

Menstruation is another one of those topics that mainstream media still shies away from talking about openly. I’ve written over a hundred news articles and personal essays on menstruation, sexual health and reproductive justice for HelloFlo and SheKnows Media. I have partnered with menstrual health advocates such as Dana Marlowe of Support The Girls and Adrienne and Andrew McDermott of The Robe Lives to produce content that draws attention to these issues. And yet, I feel like my obligation to educate others on these topics is stronger now more than ever.

 

Tampons and pads are taxed in most states for being “luxury products” even though menstruation is a natural bodily function that over half of the population experiences. On average, a person who menstruates will spend nearly $18,000 on period related items — pads, tampons and pain medications — over the course of their lifetime. For women and girls in low-income communities, in homeless shelters or in prison/juvenile detention centers, it is a struggle to afford and to gain access to much-needed menstrual products. Most public bathrooms fail to provide any menstrual products, let alone free menstrual products. Because these resources are so scarce, menstruation, an already uncomfortable time for most women, becomes both a health and sanitation risk. Without access to proper hygiene products, women and girls run the risk of contracting bacterial vaginitis, urinary tract infections and the potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome.

 

In many countries and cultures across the world, the common misconception is that menstruation is an abnormality and a chronic irregularity within a woman’s body. This concept perpetuates the harmful idea that a menstruating body is both weak and self-betraying. Every month, we are expected to hide and not acknowledge our periods. Because of the taboo surrounding periods, teens are embarrassed to walk down to the nurse’s office at school to ask for a pad or even to be seen carrying a tampon with them into the bathroom. The stigma surrounding periods deeply affects how young people view themselves and how they place value in their own self-care.

 

Shattering the glass ceiling means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Anyone can do it, no matter their age or their experience level. Think outside the box. Find a solution for a problem that no one else seems to be addressing. For me, breaking down that barrier means making sure than women are seen and that their voices are heard. Figure out how you can utilize your own strengths to make a difference.