Culture June 20, 2017
No, they're not, but women are being led to believe they are.
Recently, a reporter traveling through Egypt was pulled aside and re-screened because they found a tampon in her back pocket. A tampon.
The reporter was forced to bashfully explain what a tampon is used for to the security woman because the object was so foreign to her. The fact that one woman was questioning another on her choice to use tampons in 2017 seems unbelievable, but when the reporter asked to show the box and instructions, she was told the tampons would have to be re-screened through the X-ray machine again.
Once they were screened the reporter explained what the tampon was and what it was used for, but the security woman’s first question was: “Can you use these in Egypt?”
The answer was yes, tampons are perfectly legal in Egypt. But they are used so infrequently because of the stigma against them in Egyptian society. It is highly discouraged to use tampons before marriage because of the myth that it could take a woman’s virginity by breaking the hymen.
It is even discouraged to use tampons after marriage because the menstrual blood is considered “impure” and men disapprove of keeping this blood within a woman’s body.
It is still unclear why women choose to take a man’s opinion into account when deciding how to deal with their own bodies, but women not even knowing that tampons existed is another level of misinformation.
These misconceptions about tampons make them an unpopular choice among most women, and while a woman’s choice of sanitary products seems peripheral, these small limitations on women only fuel the conservative and misogynist culture already prevalent in Egypt.
Even if women choose not to use tampons, having the option is what is important. The freedom of choice is what empowers us.
These small limitations and misinformation spread throughout Egyptian society add up to inhibiting women more than people realize.
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