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Hi, Mr. Finley,

I just finished a play called the "Period Play." It's formatted like the Vagina Monologues and based on much of my research - it even includes a joke from the MUM humor page!


Julie Lipson

The Period Play

By Julie Beth Lipson

Copyright 2004 Julie Beth Lipson


Act I: Introduction

Woman 1, Karen Houppert, Woman 2

Act II: Tampon Trash Trivia

Trivia Gal 1, Trivia Gal 2

Act III: "It's Gross and You Bleed and Stuff"

Julie, Susie

Act IV: Tampons are Annoying

Mad Woman

Act V: TSS Trivia

Trivia Gal 1

Act VI: Traveler's Monologue


Act VII: Menstrual Monopoly

Trivia Gal 1, Trivia Gal 2

Act VIII: So What are the Alternatives?

Alt Chick 1, Alt Chick 2, Alt Chick 3



Act I



(WOMAN 1 walks on stage paging through a magazine and stopping to read some ads to the audience.)

WOMAN 1: Playtex Portables Tampons are plastic applicator tampons that come in a discreet, convenient carry size. Put one in your purse. Or your pocket. No one will ever know - it's protection on the go!

(Pauses to introduce HOUPPERT. While HOUPPERT talks, WOMAN 1 paces around and pages through her magazine.)

This is Karen Houppert, author of "The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo, Menstruation."

HOUPPERT: I emerged [from three years of research on menstruation] with this profound analogy: blood is kinda like snot. How come it's not treated that way? People with runny noses do not hide their tissues from colleagues and family members. They do not die of embarrassment when they sneeze in public. Young girls do not cringe if a boy spies them buying a box of Kleenex. Caught without a hanky on a cold day, people sometimes use their sleeves; they are sheepish but not humiliated. They do not blush or stammer or hide the evidence. No one celebrates congestion. It is inconvenient and occasionally, when accompanied by a cold, decidedly unpleasant. But those who suffer publicly-

WOMAN 1: ah-choo!

HOUPPERT: - are casually blessed. (Turns to WOMAN 1) Bless you. It is, in essence, no big deal. The same is not true of periods.

WOMAN 1: Kotex Maxi Pads with Wings: Quietest pouch. Clothlike material for the ultimate in discretion. Look for specially marked packages at your favorite retailer!

(WOMAN 2 walks on stage, angrily.)

WOMAN 2: It seems like we're really trying to cover something up. If the media is successful, will menstruation be a big secret that only women will know about?

WOMAN 1: Like a secret cult or something.

WOMAN 2: Why should we be discreet? Why do we need the "quietest pouch?" How can "no one ever know?"

HOUPPERT: This play is about unlearning shame. Why are we taught to hide our menstruation but to flaunt our breasts? Why do girls hide tampons in bathroom cabinets like pornography?

WOMAN 1, WOMAN 2, HOUPPERT: Is menstruation unnatural?

(All three turn to each other in confusion. Each tells the others that she menstruates, and nods when the others say they do while they talk over each other.)

HOUPPERT: No. Menstruation is natural and the products we buy should reflect that.

WOMAN 1: This play is about alternatives.

WOMAN 2: This is the Period Play.


Act II

Tampon Trash Trivia


TRIVIA GAL 1: An average menstruator throws away between 250 and 300 pounds of tampons, pads, and applicators in a lifetime. The great majority of these end up in landfills or sewage treatment plants.

TRIVIA GAL 2: According to the National Women's Health Network, more than twelve billion pads and seven million tampons are used once and disposed of annually, clogging our overburdened landfill sites.

TRIVIA GAL 1: According to the Center for Marine Conservation, more than 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along U.S. coastal areas between 1998 and 1999.



"It's Gross and You Bleed and Stuff"


JULIE is professional looking 25-30 year old woman with a clipboard and pen. She takes notes during the interview. SUSIE is a typical fifth grader.

JULIE: Good morning, Susie, my name is Julie. I'm going to be asking you a few questions this morning. Is that okay with you?

SUSIE: (nods) Uh huh.

JULIE: Ok, Susie, what grade are you in?

SUSIE: Fifth grade.

JULIE: Okay, and how do you like fifth grade?

SUSIE: I like it a lot, I'm in the highest reading level: the red level!

JULIE: That's great! And what subjects do you study in fifth grade?

SUSIE: Um, math, and reading, and social studies, and um, other stuff.

JULIE: Great. Now, your teacher told me that you started health class last quarter.


JULIE: What do you learn about in that class?

SUSIE: Well, Mr. Roberts takes all the boys to his room. And Mrs. Green takes all the girls and we go to her room down the hall. She tells us about things that happen to girls. Like periods (giggles).

JULIE: And what did she tell you about periods?

SUSIE: She told us that it's gross and you bleed and stuff.

JULIE: Did she use the words you just used, did she say it was gross?

SUSIE: Well, no, but my friend Jamie, her mom, said that when she's older, she'll get a period, and then she'll have to go to the CVS with her mom to buy what her mom buys.

JULIE: What does Jamie's mom buy at the CVS?

SUSIE: Umm, I forget what they're called. Well, actually I don't want to say it 'cuz it's kind of gross.

JULIE: Are you sure, Susie? I want you to able to say anything to me, even the things that make you giggle.

SUSIE: Ok, well, she buys these things, tampons, and also she buys pads. (Whispering) And my mom gets them, too - I looked!

JULIE: Lots of mommies get them. Susie, what does your teacher say about tampons and pads?

SUSIE: She showed us how to open one, and then she put one in water, in a cup of water. Not the pad though. The pad, she opened, and it was so big, and it looked like my little brother's diaper. I hope I don't have to get my period because I don't want to wear those.

JULIE: Did your teacher or anyone else tell you about other things to buy when you have your period?

SUSIE: She said that all girls get it, and it comes once a month, and boys don't get it, and one day we will have pads and tampons in our bathrooms at home.

JULIE: Okay, Susie. Is there anything else you want to tell me today?

SUSIE: Mmmmm, nope.

JULIE: Well ,thank you, it's been a pleasure meeting you.

SUSIE: Bye bye! (skips offstage)


Act IV

Tampons are Annoying


(MAD WOMAN walks on stage mad. She demonstrates the awkward situations she speaks about. It should look humorous, silly, and awkward.)

MAD WOMAN: You know what's so annoying? Tampons! I mean, that little string, you know, it's like you sit down to pee, and you don't want to pee on it, 'cuz then you just have to walk around all day with a pee-ish string in your underwear. So, you know, I always do that squatting thing, where I'm not actually sitting on the toilet, and then from the back, I hold the string. And then I pee, and then let go of the string. Am I the only one who does that?

Or you know those non-applicator tampons? Yea, those are no better. I can never tell when it's up too far, or up just right, or too low, and then I walk out of the bathroom and have to walk right back in to fix it 'cuz it's already falling out. Yuck! Or even worse, you are trying to take out your tampon, or put it in!, when you are all, ya know, dry down there? Like, you have to be aroused so it doesn't chafe! So then you are in the ladies' restroom at work and you're masturbating to make yourself wet so you can pull out your tampon without scraping the inside of your vagina.

Or, the toilet paper wrap - you know what I'm talking about - you're in the ladies' restroom, and you take off your pad, hold it in one hand while you tear off a piece of toilet paper with the other hand. Then you wrap the pad in the toilet paper, and sometimes I'm wearing a tampon, too, well, I wish I had three hands! So, you know, then you have to hold the toilet paper wrapped-up pad while you zip up your pants and button them with one hand. Then you flush with your foot and walk out of the stall with a little bundle to throw away. Seriously, what is the deal?

Then don't even get me started on the pool. Okay, you got me started. You know, you put on the bathing suit, but you get it a little bloody and sticky. Sorry, this is getting graphic, but you know what I mean? (Pause for audience cheer or awkward silence.) Right. So anyway, then you go swimming and the whole time think you are leaking, or your tampon is absorbing all the water from the pool. Then you're standing there in a big concrete basin wondering why there is no water. Then you take off your bathing suit, and you have that drip from that damn string again. Didn't we invent atomic bomb? Seriously, isn't there a better menstrual product?


Act V

TSS Trivia


TRIVIA GAL 1: There is no medical evidence to prove that deodorized sanitary products are necessary or helpful. Toxic shock syndrome and deodorant feminine hygiene products became news about 15 years ago because of the deaths and medical problems associated with deodorized tampons. This initiated research into TSS and it was found that deodorized products are not a cause, but a risk factor for TSS.


Act VI

Traveler's Monologue


(This monologue is performed by a woman in her mid-twenties.)

TRAVELER: Guess what?! I just discovered the most amazing thing! Ok, well not discovered, I mean, women have used these for decades now, since the 1930s. But, ok, I'll start from the beginning.

It all started about a year ago. I had just graduated from college, the University of Maryland. I majored in anthropology, and I had no idea what I wanted to do (yeah, my parents yelled at me a lot for that), but finally I graduated, and I got a grant to do some research in Europe and Africa. If any of you are graduating soon, I would definitely suggest this rather than getting an office job after college. Anyway, I was really excited and the grant I got was for a year of research.

So, my mom and I sat down - she was so happy that I was finally doing something "productive with my life" - and we made a packing list for me. Her baby was leaving the country! She was nervous for me and wanted to take me shopping before I left, you know, to buy all those last minute items: long underwear, those little sucking candies for the plane, ya know, the essentials. Right, so obviously I needed to bring some sort of, you know, stuff, like, for that time of the month. When I thought about it, I realized that I really didn't want to bring a whole bunch of boxes of pads and tampons in my suitcase. What I really needed to fill my suitcase with was journals and my camera, and gifts for the families and villages I would be staying with. Well, I figured this would be annoying, so I started reading up on other anthropologists who have traveled extensively. I knew that especially when I went to Africa, there was no guarantee of the type of sanitation we have in America. I mean, where would I find a toilet or even a trash can in a remote village?

Well, I came across an ad in a magazine for a menstrual cup. It caught my eye because it had a picture of a hiker, and she was using a menstrual cup instead of tampons. At first it sounded a bit ridiculous to me: a menstrual cup that catches your menstrual blood, instead of absorbing it like a tampon does. But then I realized I really didn't want to be carrying around all the trash from tampons and pads in some village in Tanzania! Think about all those applicators, boxes, wrappers, you know, all that stuff that I would have to pack in my backpack when I was done changing my tampon in the woods. Well, that was enough to convince meI ordered one for 30 dollars off the internet. The other awesome thing was that I could leave the menstrual cup in for twelve hours since you know, there aren't all those chemicals like there are in tampons.

Well, this plan worked out perfectly. I did end up in some pretty distant places, and was glad that I wasn't carrying around boxes and trash when I left. When I woke up the morning of my cycle, I would put in the cup, and leave it in for the day until we got back to our village for dinner. Then I took it out, washed it, and put it back in while it was still light, slept the night with it in, and washed it and put it back in the next morning.

Another researcher there was having a terrible time having to change her tampons and pads every few hours. We didn't know where we would be the next day. I felt sorry for her when we took a day-long canoe trip.

Well, here I am back in America, with one year of anthropological research under my belt. I know I have a long road ahead of me. Do you know anyone hiring anthropologists right now? Well, anyway, even if I am not employed soon, at least I won't be wasting any money on menstrual products. You know, menstrual cups can last for at least ten years! I'm no mathematician, but I think thirty dollars for ten years is not a bad deal. Especially for a product that creates no waste, is reusable, and has no chemicals to give me TSS.



Menstrual Monopoly


TRIVIA GAL 1: A 1997 article on the Procter & Gamble buy-out of Tambrands, the company which makes Tampax, Procter & Gamble will now control fifty percent of the US market for disposable menstrual products. The two companies will now have not only Tampax tampons, but also the Always line of sanitary pads. Fifty percent of the market. One in every two products sold is owned by Procter & Gamble. 

TRIVIA GAL 2: For the fiscal year ending June 1996, Procter & Gamble made a 35.3 billion dollar revenue. And still, according to HYPERLINK "" Maine and Company, a website to encourage corporate investing in Maine, the state of Maine, as a tax break incentive, reimbursed Tambrands one hundred percent of taxes paid on new machinery and equipment.



So What are the Alternatives?


ALT CHICK 1: Tampons are made from rayon, produced from wood pulp and cotton, a heavy pesticide crop. Twenty-five percent of all insecticides are used on cotton.

ALT CHICK 2: Five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton in the U.S. - cyanide, dicofol, naled, propargite, and trifluralin - are known cancer-causing chemicals. All nine are classified by the U.S. EPA as Category I and II: the most dangerous.

ALT CHICK 3: In California, it has become illegal to feed the leaves, stems, and short fibers of cotton, known as gin trash, to livestock, because of the concentrated levels of pesticide residue. Instead, this gin trash is used to make furniture, mattresses, swabs, cotton balls, and, you guessed it, tampons!

ALT CHICK 1: So, what's a menstruator to do?

ALT CHICK 2: What are the alternatives?

ALT CHICK 3: Menstrual cups. A menstrual cup catches your blood instead of absorbing it. It can be used for at least ten years, and costs around thirty dollars. It can be made of silicone or rubber, and feels just like a tampon. Menstrual cups can be worn for up to twelve hours and overnight. How convenient!

ALT CHICK 2: Disposable menstrual cups. These also catch blood instead of absorbing. They can usually hold up to twice the amount of a tampon which means you have to change it less, great for athletes and travelers. You can even have sex with it in because it is worn almost like a diaphragm! Disposable menstrual cups cost around ten dollars for twenty-four.

ALT CHICK 3: Reusable cloth pads. By far the most fun way of personalizing your period. Reusable cloth pads are soft and can be homemade. Made from cotton, flannel, or anything comfortable, these pads create no waste, and can just be thrown in the laundry.

ALT CHICK 1: Do these alternatives sound gross to you?

ALT CHICK 2: Why are we so afraid of our own blood?

ALT CHICK 3: A girl goes to the doctor and says,

ALT CHICK 1: "Doctor, I think there's something wrong with me."

ALT CHICK 2: "Why?"

ALT CHICK 3: asks the doctor.

ALT CHICK 1: "I saw on TV that when you use Tampax the fluid is blue, but mine is red!"

ALT CHICK 3: So, we can show each of the Ten Commandments being broken on TV, including murder and rape, but we can't show the natural color of a menstrual blood?

ALT CHICK 1: The culture of menstruation has become shameful and hidden.

ALT CHICK 2: And that's not okay.



Ensler, Eve. The Vagina Monologues. Random House Group, 2001.

Houppert, Karen. The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo, Menstruation. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.

Kotex. 2004. 10 Nov. 2004 <>.

Luke, Haida. "The Gendered Discourses of Menstruation." Social Alternatives Jan. 1997: 28-30.

Menarchy. 9 Nov. 2004 <>.

Muscio, Inga. Cunt. Avalon Group, 2002.

Museum of Menstruation. 1998. 10 Nov. 2004 <>.

Playtex. 1998. 10 Nov. 2004 <>.

Tampaction. Student Environmental Action Coalition. 9 Nov. 2004 <>.

news | first page | contact the museum | art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | belts | bidets | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books (and reviews) | cats | company booklets directory | costumes | cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | famous people | FAQ | humor | huts | links | media | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | religion | menstrual products safety | science | shame | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour (video) | underpants directory | videos, films directory | washable pads | LIST OF ALL TOPICS

Essays and poetry on this site

"The Period Play" is copyright 2004 Julie Lipson