DESIGN THAT'S FEMINIST, INTERSECTIONAL, CRITICAL, & FOCUSED ON ACTION
The average woman endures some 456 total periods over her 38 years. That’s roughly 2,280 days with her period, or 6.25 years of her life. She is likely to use over 16,800 tampons and pads over the course of her lifetime (Weiss-Wolf, 2015). In Canada, menstrual hygiene products are among the top-three material costs of being a woman under the age of 65 (Plan International Canada, 2018). There is growing awareness of, and demand for solutions to, the financial burden of menstruation—in 2014, the United Nations declared menstrual hygiene a public-health, gender-equality, and human rights issue (UN, Office of the High Commissioner, 2014). Beyond affordability and accessibility, periods and their management are linked to shame and dangerous misinformation, leading to serious human rights concerns (United Nations Population Fund, 2018).
We’re interested in “thinking through making” activities that tackle the following questions using topic-emergent materials—imagine boxes of pads, tampons, and cups and boxes of circuits, LEDs, motors, and rubber bands:
- What happens when we think about menstrual products as technology?
- What can we learn about design for comfort and discomfort by intersecting technology and menstruation?
- How can design help with the disruption of the problematic social and cultural norms surrounding menstruation?
Our objectives are in no way to solve the problem of menstruation, nor to investigate how users interact with hygiene products in their everyday life. Rather, we follow Dunne and Raby in attempting to “challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions, and givens about the role (menstrual) products (and menstruation) play in everyday life”.
We plan on sharing the outcomes from our making session by all the means available to us, including this website.
We are part of the www.qcollaborative.com—an intersectional feminist design research lab. We maintain a website / blog, instagram and twitter accounts, as well as publish in academic journals and present at conferences. We also teach, and plan to share our work with the next generations of designers. Finally, we are currently working on a design book series for Illinois Press, hence this work is likely to appear there as well.