Sarah.of.a.lesser.god and I just received an enlightening link from sixth Harpy KittenFluff, directing us to the Museum of Menstruation (coincidentally as I was starting my own special womanly week!). We perused the Museum’s collection of vintage ads, pads, tampons, douches, and chatter and found so much to discuss–and share! Join us, as we kick it old school.
BeckySharper: The “vintage stuff I wish was still around” award goes to a lubricated tampon from the 50s called Pursettes. Says the exhibit:
“Pursettes’s uniqueness was a lubricated tip, which would help girls, probably virgins, to penetrate an unfamiliar orifice, and one narrowed by a hymen. See an ad showing a letter from a happy customer mentioning this: “. . . I was afraid I might break a membrane or something.” Or something.
Okay, this actually sounds like a terrific idea (and from the 50s! Who knew?). When I started using a tampon at age 12, I often had to lube it a little to get it in–although my vagina was far from an “unfamiliar orifice”. I still need a dab or two of KY sometimes if my flow is light and it’s a little dry down there.
sarah.of.a.lesser.god: I liked the washable cloth pads from 19th century Norway. They were even hand-knit! They looked like ginormous fanny packs more suited to holding car keys and a wallet then menstrual blood. I would imagine that the knit fabric also helped keep your vagina very warm in the Scandinavian cold.
BeckySharper: You do not want frostbite on your vajayjay! You could wear them with the Christmas slippers made out of giant maxi-pads. Comfy AND absorbent.
sarah.of.a.lesser.god: Yes, I saw the slippers! I need to get another pair of slippers. Maybe I should just invest in Kotex and you can needlepoint them together for me, perhaps with an inspirational message on them.
BeckySharper: Those would be an epic WIN.
sarah.of.a.lesser.god: There were also the Sears Roebuck sanitary panties from 1922:
“These are ‘bloomers’ – underpants – for menstruating women to wear at night, sold by Sears, Roebuck and Company in 1922. This is an early brief-style underpants, possibly derived from babies’ diapers….American women typically wore loose-fitting long-leg underpants in the earlier part of the twentieth century; they wore similar underpants with an open crotch in the 19th century, probably to make defecation and urination easy.”
A later version had rubber panels in the front and back! Fun during the sweltering summer nights.
BeckySharper: The loose-fitting, long-legged underpants sound terrific, since we all know how I feel about undergarments that chafe my delicate areas. But I can just picture the rubber panels sticking to my skin and tugging painfully at my pubes. Ugh. I bet they were to help protect sheets from leakage. I certainly remember having to strip the bed and rinse the sheets with cold water a few times before I just gave up and started wearing super tampons at night. Parenthetically, one of the most useful things I’ve learned in my 12 years of menstruation is how to remove bloodstains from clothing. I can get blood out of anything now.
sarah.of.a.lesser.god: Let’s not forget the products that help keep you menstruating! Ladies, I give you…DYKON! For that special time when you really need a dyke on you. God, I can relate to that! Contraceptive jelly from the 1930s that was only $1.50. And that was probably exorbitant during the Depression, but any contraceptive costing less than $2 sounds pretty damned appealing these days. And now I am reminded of the Flaming Lips song “She Don’t Use Jelly.”
BeckySharper: Oh noes! That Flaming Lips song always made me wince because the next line is “she uses Vaseline”, which as every good vagina-owner knows is a BIG no-no (on account of the way it degrades condoms and dehydrates your vagina by sealing in all the moisture). Ladies! It’s just a song! Use jelly, not Vaseline! But Dykon is awesome! Best ironic and unintentionally hilarious name for a spermicidal jelly ever! They also feature a page with a (possibly contraceptive) douche from the early 1900s called Fresca. One wonders if it was bubbly, artificially sweetened and grapefruit-flavored. Mmmm…Fresca. Cleanses the vagina and delicious with popcorn at the movies.
Check out the museum’s collection and message boards–complete with lively discussions like “would you stop menstruating if you could?”–at the Museum of Menstruation.