The most recent viral phenomenon on social media is the #PadManChallenge. Celebrities like Akshay Kumar, Aamir Khan, and Alia Bhatt have tweeted pictures of themselves holding a sanitary napkin a.k.a pad with the caption “Yes, that’s a pad in my hand & there’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s natural! Period. #PadManChallenge”
A video with Anil Kapoor selling pads to Rajkumar Rao has also grown widely popular with its message of men being more open-minded regarding menstruation. Rajkumar Rao says “Sharmana kya hain iss mein?”
While the challenge borrows its terminology from the movie set to be released next week, apart from being a promotional activity, it has also set out ripples of an entirely new media revolt.
Several youngsters, men and women have followed suit and posted similar pictures. More open-minded men have also tweeted pictures with the caption “Bought pads for my sister for the very first time.” Addressing the issue of hygiene, some girls have even flaunted their bleach free and organic cotton pads.
Whoa! This is indeed a huge step ahead of the “pad ethics” we as girls have grown up with.
These “pad ethics” include wrapping our pads carefully with newspaper or hiding it in between the folds of our skirt at school so that the boys would not see it. The bhaiyya at the medicine store would kindly oblige to these basic “pad-manners” by putting it in a black poly-bag.
Owing to such habits, the sanitary napkin has always been treated as an object of mystery and secret. The #PadManChallenge is therefore revolutionary as it properly discloses an actual pad. Looking at these pictures, one is taken aback!
Reactions to the challenge
The challenge has had its negative reactions too. A man in Bhopal tried to enter a ladies toilet to grab a sanitary napkin from the vending machine for the #PadManChallenge and was thrashed by the angry mob.
This is significant in terms of the alternate direction the feminist movement has taken. On the one hand, where equality and mutual understanding among men and women is sought after, on the other hand, women try to protect their arena of womanhood as exclusive to their gender.
This is especially true of rural women for whom the unity amidst fellow women is their strength. They do not believe in men who try to enter the separated sphere of womanhood.
The era of “#challenge”
The internet has been obsessed with nonsensical challenges like the “Tide Pod Challenge” or the “Salt and Ice Challenge”. They became a fixation among teenagers who ultimately brought physical harm to themselves. However, the #PadManChallenge has tried to do away with the taboo associated with menstruation and having celebrities like Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone and Radhika Apte to do the same gives it a major upstart.
The period taboo needs as much attention and the visual startle the pictures have given rise to is an achievement in menstrual awareness. Period.
Such movements are symbolic of women trying to retain their natural self. The period taboo makes them shy away from the most natural process of life.
This goes back to the history of the feminist era, for instance, the “burn your bra” movement of the 1960s. Women walked around without wearing a bra and many others threw away their bras into trashcans. They asserted that instead of pushing one’s breasts up with a bra, they should be free and natural.
So, will you take the #PadManChallenge and say boo to taboo?
Image Credits: Google Images