“They say my flow is heavy so I guess I need a tampon,” Genesis Be raps in “Tampons & Tylenol.” The musician has called her summer song, released last month, a “declaration of women’s power,” but it also serves as a reminder of how that power can be subverted. While the lyrics equate Genesis Be’s rapping prowess with her gender, they also suggest that this prowess should be suppressed—and that the tool of suppression could be the perenially popular feminine hygiene product. The MC recently told The Village Voice that she penned the tune after failing to find tampons at her local convenience store. Here, literally, the tampon is invisible just as it, lyrically, renders her “flow” invisible—the point being, you’ve got to hide your blood away.
“There’s no social benefit from having a period, so suppressing it makes a lot of sense to a lot of people,” Sharra L. Vostral, author of Under Wraps: A History of Menstrual Hygiene Technology, tells the Daily Beast. It certainly makes sense to Ke$ha. The famously “edgy” singer, who has bragged about drinking her own urine, told WBLI radio-show host Syke last month that the only thing she considers “off limits” on her reality show is changing her tampon. Considering how many people saw red after Giovanna Plowman ate hers, not to mention how female artists like Carina Ubeda are marginalized for using their menstrual fluid in their work, it’s little wonder that periods and pop culture don’t mix.
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