Haruka Nakajima / Translated by Sachi Kikuchi
“Why are there no hygiene products in the washroom?”
From this question, sex education producer Rino Nakajima planned the “Sanitary Products Exhibition”. Last year, at the event “SFC Creative Week” held at Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC), I had the opportunity to reconsider menstruation. Voice Up Japan asked Mr. Nakajima about the details of his participation in SFC Creative Week and his reaction to the exhibition.
(From Mr. Nakajima’s Twitter)
-Why did you question the fact that there were no free hygiene products in the washroom?
Just last year, a lot of things about menstruation changed. A menstrual movie called “Little Miss P” * was made, and menstrual emojis were added to the iPhone. After that, when the company was doing “#NoBagForMe” *, I was wondering what I could do as a college student. At that time, I found an article that Twitter offices in the United States already had hygiene products in the washroom. When I saw it, I wondered why there was no hygiene period with only toilet paper even though it was excrement. I wanted everyone to ask me another question. So, when I decided to try it at university, I happened to have SFC Creative Week, so I went with him.
-What kind of event is Creative Week?
An event that transforms the entire campus into an art gallery. When we first decided to launch a sanitary product, we had another project called SFC Creative Week that would turn the entire campus into an art gallery, and we were just on the move. The organizer of SFC Creative Week created the proposed format and said, “I want to display sanitary products in the bathroom.” We collaborated with about 10 people on campus. In addition to the display, posters showing various options for sanitary products and how to use them are posted where they can be seen when sitting on the toilet. I wish I had a poster link where people could learn more about sex.
-So did you do this especially for Creative Week?
Without COVID-19, I thought I would try again from April of this year. I was thinking of expanding it to other schools. Due to the influence of COVID-19, it has become very difficult to put anything other than toilet paper out in public places, and it is currently not possible to do so.
-On Twitter, we announced that we would work with people who want to put hygiene products in high school and college. Is this also difficult now?
Okay. I was thinking of starting a project by gathering applicants from around September, but I’m worried that COVID-19 will not work, so I haven’t made any progress yet. Some of the people who wanted to participate were in the final year of high school or were about to graduate. So I’m starting to plan events at school as much as possible.
-There was a response from high school students!
High school students and school teachers also contacted me. I want to do it at any school where I can.
-How did the university and students respond to the placement of these sanitary products?
First of all, menstruation is natural, and I think it’s natural to buy sanitary napkins on your own, so there was an honest reaction from people asking, “Why do you do that?” I think many college students have money. Not needed here. Isn’t it a little dirty to do this? It’s a common reaction, but when my friends are in class, I’ve heard people ask, “Did you see hygiene products at school?” During break. It was an opportunity to reconsider conversation and menstruation. There were also opinions such as “It is convenient to have it” and “I am grateful to be there as a woman”.
However, there was criticism that “why do you want to make only hygiene products free?” Shaving is always compared to sanitary products. “Why are only hygiene products free when men also need to shave?” Many thought it really strange to compare menstruation with shaving. I once tweeted that the cost of a sanitary napkin would be hundreds of thousands of yen in a lifetime, but it was said that the cost of shaving was 1.4 million yen. It was very strange to think that these two things could be spoken on the same line. I’m confused. I think we need to think more carefully about this.
-I think men tend to find it disadvantageous or embarrassing menstruation. Is there anything you think is necessary or want to do for your period to be considered normal?
In fact, if COVID did not occur, I would have expanded my activities to various universities. Everyone uses the washroom, so I wanted to create an environment where even people who aren’t interested can ask questions. After all, I personally think that it is very difficult to change the entire Japanese society, so I think that private companies and the government also need to change. I think each company needs to change, just as the US Twitter office paid to put free hygiene products in the washroom, or the way the Scottish government made them free. Society needs to move as a whole, for example with the support of government.
-Do you think menstruation awareness varies from generation to generation?
I think our environment is getting better and better so we can talk more about menstruation. Only people who have menstruation can say, “I’m on my period, so I have convulsions today.” I don’t think I can talk about the solution to alleviate the cramps yet, but I think I can talk more about it than the older generation.
-Tell us what you want to do in the future and what you want to share on social media.
For example, in sex education as a whole, using words like “sex” (in search engines) inevitably makes adult sites appear as top hits. I would like to sign a petition that pushes search engine services such as Yahoo !. Or Google has a site that can display the right information when someone searches for “gender.” Even when searching for “era”, I would like you to create a mechanism that can display articles with scientific evidence as high as possible. Collecting signatures is also a good way to tackle this kind of problem. I’m thinking about it.
-Thank you very much.
* 1 “Little Miss P” is a manga about Ken Koyama’s menstruation. The movie was released in 2019. https: //omocoro.jp/matome/113450/
* 2 “#NoBagForMe” is a project launched by Unicharm in 2019, and we are developing new designs and products with the aim of “a world where you can talk about menstruation and sanitary products without hesitation.” http://www.unicharm.co.jp/company/news/2019/1211463_13296.html .
Sex education producer. She disseminates information about sex education on social media and plans / manages events.
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