Boss Tells Woman Not To Carry Sanitary Towels, Sparks Fury

A worker has sparked fierce debate online after sharing in a popular post that her manager asked her to stop carrying sanitary towels to the bathroom, after colleagues complained.

The woman, who works in an office, posted her issue to popular forum Mumsnet, garnering over 1,000 responses.

"This afternoon my manager called me into her office. Apparently, a couple of people have spoken to her because I sometimes walk to the office toilets carrying a sanitary towel and it's making them uncomfortable," wrote the anonymous woman. "She has suggested I take my bag with me instead."

"I thought times had moved on and I refuse to be made to feel ashamed of my period. I think the people who have complained are being ridiculous and need to get over it," she added.

The office worker confirmed that the people who complained were all men.

Period shame is a worldwide issue that rages on even today, despite initial assumptions by many that they're long gone problems. A 2017 survey found that nearly half of girls aged between 14 and 21 in the U.K. are embarrassed by their periods, and that 82 percent of girls admitted to hiding concealing their sanitary products.

Closer to home, a survey of 1,500 U.S. women in 2018 found that almost 60 percent feel embarrassed by their periods, pinpointing taboos and the attitudes of men as a cause.

The survey found that around three-quarters of women hide their menstruation products when going to the bathroom. Some 42 percent said they had experienced period-shaming by men.

Sanitary towel
Stock image of a sanitary towel. Getty Images

With so many women relating to the issue at hand, reactions to the Mumsnet post were strong. Users were left raging at colleagues for complaining and the boss for her apparent compliance.

"She's taking it to the [toilet] to change it in private. Anyone uncomfortable with merely the SIGHT of sanitary protection doesn't belong in the workplace, they're too delicate," wrote one user.

"I'd respond to their complaints, with a counter complaint, that you've been made to feel ashamed of a normal female bodily function & that they invaded your privacy. That you don't have pockets (it's difficult to get work clothing with pockets) & that by suggesting you hide it in a bag they are essentially body shaming you (and all women) for being female & having periods," added another.

"Because of course men shouldn't have to see a piece of clean absorbent material in a packet, how will they cope?"

Another counter argued that those watching her in the office are more at fault for even noticing the towels. "Why is it that carrying something small in your hand is seen as 'flaunting, advertising, wafting around, displaying' because it's used for menstruation, and therefore unprofessional, uncouth, making a point and therefore wrong," they asked.

Sanitary towel
Stock image of sanitary towels in wrappers. Getty Images

"Yet watching a colleague so closely that you can see and further identify the small item in their hand, so much so that complaining about it is needed, is absolutely fine? Especially when you're supposed to be working? Why are they feeling the need to observe other members of staff closely enough to identify what's in their hand and then decide if it's something they think shouldn't be seen?"

Despite the response being overwhelmingly in defence of the original poster, some did rush to defend the colleagues with attempts to reason their side.

"I would be mortified to do so in a professional environment and I would cringe at anybody who did the same in my office- (this would go for a man carrying loo roll too)-it is just unsightly and inappropriate in a work environment," complained one user.

"There are many ways you could be discreet and conceal it, it's not about being ashamed of having a period but displaying intimate products that should belong in the loo in an environment where people are trying to work. Nobody needs to know what you are going to the loo to do as it's private and I'm not sure why you would either."

Others however reasoned that other personal products fail to induce such intense reactions: "Would you complain if a man took a razor and shaving foam to the bathroom? Or a toothbrush and toothpaste after lunch?" asked an individual.