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In this article, when I say “period,” I mean stop, end-of-sentence, do-not-continue.

Please, Do Not Free Bleed

In this article, when I say “period,” I mean stop, end-of-sentence, do-not-continue.

By Olivia W. McCoy, University of Georgia


For those of you that don’t know, free bleeding is like leaking while on your period, but intentionally.

I’m not joking, it actually exists.

For those of you that do know what free-bleeding is, did you know that although it has been a practice for as far as we can tell in history, it was only just recently popularized in 2014 by a 4chan prank?

Let me start over. Because pads weren’t really invented until 1888—and even then they were just wood pulp bandages (ouch?)—women throughout history sort of had to just free bleed into whatever they had. They’ve managed for thousands of years to not need feminine hygiene products, and then right about when women started actually doing things, someone decided that it might be useful to collect the “spillage.”

Free Bleeding: What Is It and Why Would Women Do It?

But, even though free bleeding was a common practice throughout history, menstruating still had a tendency to be thought of as taboo or unclean. Often, women were considered sinners in need of cleansing, which is why the Lord was purging the devil from their bodies in this way.

But enough with the historical crap, let’s talk about the modern day free-bleeding hysteria. Although a lot of people thought of the practice as a feministic fight, it was actually started as a prank.

That’s right, some dudes on 4chan decided it’d be funny to lobby for free-bleeding, just to see if gullible feminists would fall for it. And they did.

Why they wanted to see girls posting pictures of bloody crotches, I don’t know. Is there a kink for that? I mean, I totally understand the “Bikini-bridge” joke, where women were encouraged to post pictures of their bikini bottoms suspended over their hips—perfect boob shot, really—, but the period blood thing is weird. Let’s say it.

Now, free bleeding has become an actual thing. Clothing companies make special underwear for free bleeders—not that they work at all according to the reviews. Some companies even used free bleeding to advertise.

Now here’s my problem with that. “Vice” uploaded pictures of women bleeding through in their clothes, so that women would want to buy them. But what woman wants to buy clothes that completely reveal that you’re on your period? “Oh, let me buy that skirt that collects my menstrual blood like sponge coming from a satanic ritual of some sort.” That’s appealing.

And the free bleeding panties. Ok, I get that you get lazy. I get lazy too—I mean, I can’t really tell you the number of times I’ve neglected to change out my tampon even though I knew it was time, and then had to ball up toilet paper to preserve the last of my dignity like a 13-year old that just started for the first time in the middle of lunch—P.S. it didn’t work, my dignity was never actually a thing.

So I understand the appeal of not having to worry about taking time out of your busy day of lounging around the house in your sweats and popping pain pills while crying at that ASPCA commercial to deal with that nonsense—every woman as done it. But these panties don’t even work. And the amount of pure, unadulterated trust you’ve had to put into those flimsy things to even learn about their inadequacy baffles me. So naïve, so credulous.

I’m not going to even get into all that feminism crap that’s connected to free bleeding. I understand the call for accepting your body as it is and not being ashamed of natural bodily processes, but ew. Doesn’t that feel uncomfortable?

It must feel like you’re constantly shitting on yourself with all that sludge dripping, oozing, sliding down your thighs.

Tell me, is the perceived stand for equality really worth all that awkwardness? That initial gush of red hot glop coming from your extremities is enough to ruin a day, but then to have to deal with it pooling in your panties all day would be the end of me.

The mess would be catastrophic. You’d have to carry around a bottle of warm water and a rag everywhere you went to clean up the trail of scarlet mucilage you’ve left behind.

And the rash, dear god. All that wet slop rubbing back and forth against your extremities? No thanks, uh-uh, no way could you ever get me to deal with that.

We change a baby’s diaper every to three hours to prevent friction rashes, why did we think that women and their liquids were any different? You know, I thought about performing an experiment of the kind for this article but I didn’t for three reasons: 1) As much as I love Study Breaks, no. 2) I couldn’t get past the initial thought before my face puckered up in disgust and my whole body seized in revolting shivers, and 3) It wasn’t my time of the month anyway.

Free Bleeding: What Is It and Why Would Women Do It?

Don’t misunderstand me—I’m not ashamed of my period. On the contrary, I talk about it all the time, openly and in public. Just ask my boyfriend, he’s always slapping his hand on his forehead and asking me to quiet down. Sometimes, the eye rolls are so severe that I worry he’ll need medical attention to get them back to the surface. But, to actually sit in my own filth all day is in no way appealing to me.

Isn’t it a little contradictory too? You don’t wear feminine hygiene products to avoid dealing with them, but you’re perfectly willing to fight the stains and the consequent rash armed with a bottle of bleach and a bottle of Vaseline.

If you truly believe in free bleeding as a cause, then I support you. But, from the sidelines in a non-participatory way. Because, well, gross.

Furthermore, I’d like to formally congratulate those of you that made it through the entire article without cringing, flinching, pursing your lips or having some alternate form of violent reaction. You did better than me and I wrote the damn thing.

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