Twitter may be slowly crumbling in front of our eyes, but the it’s not going out without at least a few more absurd #scandals. This week, Tampax, of all things, sparked an entire debate about period shame and people who have periods, which eventually led to the #BoycottTampax hashtag. I’m going to miss this place.
Tampax went viral on Monday after its official Twitter account tweeted, “You’re in their DMs. We’re in them. We are not the same.” It’s funny because it’s true — and timely given The Crown’s recent inclusion of King Charles’s tampongate — but also disturbing because it’s sexualizing menstruation and tampon usage. In other words, it’s your typical cringe- and/or spit-take-inducing branded Twitter content. (Be honest, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.) What it is not, in my opinion, is worthy of a boycott.
As a follow-up, Tampax wrote that the company “refused to let Twitter shut down before we shared this tweet.” And why not? As previously banned users return to the social-media site and content regulations become more vague under Elon Musk’s leadership, now is the time to get those tweets out of your drafts and onto the timeline of your followers. But with every tweet comes an element of risk.
The audacity of Tampax’s tweet made it go viral, but the discussion around the joke — which, yes, could be seen as sexualizing a completely normal bodily function — was quickly co-opted by anti-LGBTQ+ commenters, who eventually made #BoycottTampax a trending topic. Apparently, the TERF community disapproved of the use of the term “them” instead of “her.” (As in “we’re in them,” versus, “we’re in her.”)
The heated debate surrounding the Tampax tweet appeared to embolden TERFs, who saw the controversy as their moment to criticize the brand. @CruelRider, who identified as a TERF in their bio, responded to Tampax, accusing the company of being “misogynistic trash.” Others, like @Oldspeaker1 (whose profile states they “stand with JK Rowling”), brought up Tampax’s 2020 statement that “not all people with periods are women” as proof that the brand was devaluing women. “Only female humans experience periods and we deserve humanizing words … those words are women and girls,” they wrote. While @TaniaAMarshall brought up the potential sponsoring of trans women influencers by menstrual products. “This is designed intentionally to gaslight, abuse and destabilize women and girls,” they said in part. “Say NO, take your money away from Tampax.”