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On Wednesday, October 6th, I participated in OSU’s Red Pantry Committee’s walk to end the stigma surrounding menstruation. The Red Pantry Committee is an organization the provides free menstrual products to students on campus as well as raises awareness about menstruation. The walk, referred to as the Walk of No Shame, was intended to raise awareness about the shame people experience for menstruating. It happened to be organized by current Her Campus OK State President, Ishani Ray! 

 People showed up with signs with phrases such as “The Stigma Stops With Us” and #PeriodPositive” to hold as we marched across campus. It without a doubt garnered attention as school journalists showed up to interview us and many people walked up to ask what we were doing. While there were some onlookers who whispered and made disapproving faces, as well as a group of guys who laughed at us, we got a lot more support and cheers from people we passed. It was even encouraging to see so many men cheer us on as support our cause. We ended our walk where we started, in front of the Library, having even met a few people who were interested in joining our group. The walk felt like a success. 

After our walk, we posted pictures and videos of us marching to social media. It showed those of us who showed up holding our signs. We received many likes and positive supportive comments but some questionable as well as hateful comments as well. Some people simply asked “What exactly are you trying to protest” while others resorted to insults. Irissa Baxter-Luper, OMA Coordinator of Women’s and LGBTQ Affairs and Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, responded to this, “I was so sad and disappointed to hear the responses our amazing students received to the Walk of No Shame. But it made perfectly clear why the walk exists in the first place: people want us to be ashamed. But too bad! We will not be shamed, and we will not stop being proud of our bodies”. These types of comments are expected and prove exactly why we do what we do. There were also many comments disagreeing with one sign in particular that read, “Menstruation is NOT gender exclusive!”. Of course, this caused a backlash from transphobic and close-minded people who don’t recognize people with genders that don’t align with those assigned at birth. Red Pantry Committee followed up this post with an educational post explaining the difference between sex and gender, and how people who do not identify as women can still menstruate and women don’t always menstruate. This proved an excellent teaching moment to those that didn’t understand or think about this.

Aside from these comments, there was a ton of support from our community as well. Most of the comments under the posts said things such as “I’m so amazed at the incredible work y’all are doing! Thank you for not only bringing awareness to period poverty but also working so hard to fight it at OSU! So proud!” and “I hope I can go to the next event! Keep up the good work!”. Vice President of Her Campus Ok State Leigh Welch said, “I thought it was a beautiful idea and everyone’s posters made me so happy to look at! Whenever I see or hear of women’s protests like that where basically women are just loud and unashamed and fighting for rights or beliefs that should be no brainers, it honestly gives me such a sense of pride for being a woman. Feeling that solidarity with other women or people who also are affected by things like menstruation shaming and abortion laws makes me feel so much more powerful and capable of making changes to society. It really speaks volumes to how powerful our collective voices can be”.

I was incredibly proud to have participated in this event. The response was telling of the status quo and why we are trying to end shame around menstruation for EVERYONE. The positive response was better than we could have expected. There is talk about holding more marches in the future. To keep up with all events the Red Pantry Committee holds as well as find resources for free period products on campus, follow the OSU Red Pantry committee on Instagram @osuredpantry. Their current pantry locations can be found at the laundry facility next to the Family Resource Center, Room 211P in the Student Union behind the Campus Life Desk, or at Our Daily Bread by request.

Former President of Her Campus at Oklahoma State University.  Laney is a senior Graphic Design major.  Laney is passionate about philanthropy, activism, education, and art.  When she isn't writing articles for Her Campus she is painting, playing video games, or volunteering.
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