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Invisible Women - Period Gloves for Men

Invisible Women
Invisible Women - Period Gloves for Men
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #45 • View online

Well hello there GFPs! Did you miss me? But on the other hand I’m sure you’ll all be delighted to realise that silence from me last Monday meant I *am* in my new house! Surrounded by chaos and boxes, but very happy to have a home again. Anyway, it turns out unpacking is going to be a Big Job, and we are nowhere near there yet, so this week’s newsletter is going to be bit short and sweet and scrappy.
You will forgive me (one day I'll get around to turning this into a gif)
You will forgive me (one day I'll get around to turning this into a gif)
Gender data gap of the week
Just in from the department of FMAL, the news that women staying in the paid labour force for longer is costing the British state a shocking £5600 per packhorse sorry woman a year!!! 😱
It turns out that when extending women’s pension age, it may have slipped the British government’s mind that this might have an impact on women’s ability to carry on propping up the British economy for free with all that lovely uncounted invisible unpaid labour they’d been doing for centuries. It’s almost like this is work that should be counted and valued isn’t it? Maybe, I don’t know, by including it in GDP figures or something?? Just throwing some wild cards out there.
Meanwhile, however, there is literally no other option than women doing it for free or state funding. Nope, no other adult humans who could maybe step in and fill that very clearly and immutably woman-shaped gap in the market. That’s SCIENCE, folks
Default male of the week
Several German GFPs got in touch last week to alert me to some classic manning taking place. It turns out a man on a tv show thought it would be a GREAT IDEA to give money to two other men to develop a period product.
Ladies, it gets worse.
This period product is nothing more nor less than some disposable PINK (of course) gloves so that us delicate ladies can remove our DISGUSTING BLOOD SOAKED menstruation products and dispose of them hygienically. Finally!!!! For years, I have been scrabbling around, hands drenched in blood, smearing clots on door handles, and not once did it ever occur to me to wear pink gloves! Naturally, as you would expect, innovation attracts a premium, so it’s absolutely right that we silly women who weren’t clever enough to come up with such a dazzling idea must shell out €12.40 for a pack of 48, versus, for example, £2 for a pack of 100. But of course the cheaper ones aren’t pink and also none of us ever thought about carrying around gloves as an innovative corrective to our tendency to leave every bathroom we visit looking like a Hitchcock film set.
But what, you ask, is this bloody (yes) excellent idea doing in default male of the week??? I’ll tell you, my sweet GFPs. Or, better, I’ll show you:
I genuinely may never recover from 3 men deciding women needed pink gloves to remove their tampons (clearly never having bothered to speak to a woman in their entire lives) AND THEN MADE IT TOO BIG FOR PRETTY MUCH EVERY WOMAN’S HAND EVER.
I have default male peaked.
Win of the week
Two bits of good news this week. First up, Scotland is following New Zealand’s lead in offering miscarriage leave. Only 3 days at first, but you have to start somewhere, and it does show that ripple effects matter.
And second, BBC Morning Live aired an excellent video about the default male PPE issue, hosted by Dr Punam Krishan, and featuring an interview with me. I was somewhat surprised to hear one of the other experts interviewed citing “Reference Man” and mentioning his “superpower” being to “represent everyone”, a line directly lifted from Invisible Women! But it’s really great to see this problem getting the attention it deserves – hopefully more coverage will follow, followed by actual action 💪
Actually designed for female bodies of the week (working title)
Wow, I got a HUGE response to this. It’s almost like there’s a massive appetite for things that are actually designed for female bodies and that a smart company who remembered that women existed could make big money here or something! But what would we know we’re only women after all 🤪.
I’m going to start this week with a submission that came in via instagram, which I LOVE!
Readers of Invisible Women will remember that difficulty peeing was something of a recurring theme in the book, not only because of the perennial (lack of) toilet issue, but also because of badly (default male) designed gear.
The peeing issue is a recurring one for women who have to spend any length of time outdoors. In the UK all coastguards are issued with a set of one-piece overalls which they are meant to put on underneath various other pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as foul-weather clothing, life jackets and climbing har- nesses. The double zip at the front of the overalls is great if you are a man, but, explained one woman in a 2017 Trades Union Congress (TUC) report, peeing becomes a ‘major operation’ for women as all the PPE must be stripped off, followed by the overalls them- selves. ‘As the type of incidents which we are called to regularly involve long searches which can last for many hours,’ she explains, ‘you can imagine the discomfort which female coastguards end up having to experience as a result. It has been suggested to management that the current overalls should be replaced with a two-piece garment which would allow the trousers to be pulled down with- out having to remove the top section, and while management have acknowledged the advantage of this idea nothing has so far been done to implement it.’
A female scientist studying climate change in Alaska was also plagued by overalls designed for the male body. The extreme cold means that overalls are the most sensible thing to wear – but, again, these come with a zip. Where there are indoor toilets, this would be inconvenient and require additional time spent taking off clothes from jacket downwards just for a pee. But when there is no indoor toilet, the problem is much more serious as frostbite becomes a con- cern. The woman in question bought a rubber funnelled approximation of a penis to deal with the problem – and ended up peeing all over herself. Why can’t a woman be more like a man? 
In my first book, Do it Like a Woman, I interviewed a Greenpeace activist who came up with her own hack for the problem. Victoria Henry had been trying for years to get Greenpeace to customise their wetsuits for women:
“If you look at the wetsuits in the warehouse, they have a little flap for guys” - of little use to a woman trying to use a Shewee. “So, you need to get a few where you’ve got a hole cut in the bottom”, Victoria says, laughing again, “but it’s not even considered”.
When I interviewed her, she had just completed a protest that involved scaling the 310 metre Shard in London: “we were going to be locked half way up a skyscraper – well, you can’t take your trousers down in a climbing harness, you have to take the whole harness off, so it was like: what are we going do?”
What they did was modify their trousers with velcro so that when they needed to pee they could, like a man, simply open up and let it flow.
But not everyone is handy with a needle, thread and velcro. And in any case, why should we have to be modifying potentially expensive trousers when men get to be "universal”?
Step in SheFly pants!
Like many female-focused innovations, this was borne out of first-hand female need (another example of why venture capitalists should consider…venturing [not sorry] beyond your classic male Harvard/Stanford dropout model when choosing which start-ups to fund).
From their website:
In the summer of 2016, co-founder Georgia Grace Edwards worked as one of a few women glacier guides on the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, where she was spending 8-12 hours a day on ice. Georgia Grace realized the serious disadvantage she faced when it came to using the bathroom on the glacier. In comparison to her male co-workers, whose flies allowed them to simply turn around to pee, she was forced to trek across crevasses until she could find privacy, completely remove 3-4 layers in sub-zero temperatures, do her thing, put it all back on, and hike back.
It was a waste of time and energy, and it often left her feeling cold for hours after, to the point where she started cutting her water consumption—a story not uncommon among women adventurers in group settings or cold environments.
She knew that there had to be a better way to go on the go and set out to see if there were others who shared her struggle. 
In the summer of 2017, co-founders Georgia Grace Edwards and Bianca Gonzalez met while interning at Goldman Sachs in Utah. They bonded on many endurance hikes all over the state. On a 18 mile hike to and from Mt. Timpanogos, Georgia Grace and Bianca experienced several awkward bathroom breaks, where they were exposed to others and a chilly winds. Like many women, both knew this irritation all too well and when they looked to the market for an answer, nothing cut it. DIY solutions were unreliable, hiking dresses lacked a fashion-forwardness for the modern woman and remained defenseless in the cold, and female urination devices (FUDs) suggested there was something wrong with women’s anatomies (not to mention their tendency to overflow, and sanitation issues!). [pause here for a brief HALLELUJAH]
Unfortunately, Covid has screwed everything up as usual, and pre-orders are on pause for now, but you can join their waiting list to be notified when manufacturing has ramped up again and you bet your no-longer-cold bottom I’m on that list.
Poppy pic of the week
I’m giving you TWO this week to make up for making you miss a dose while I moved house
Poppy was thrilled to join us for our first post-lockdown pub lunch
Poppy was thrilled to join us for our first post-lockdown pub lunch
Sun-dog helping me write the newsletter 😍
Sun-dog helping me write the newsletter 😍
Hmmm, that didn’t turn out to be as short as I intended! Oh well! Until next time, GFPs! xoxoxo
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Caroline Criado Perez

Keeping up with the gender data gap (and whatever else takes my fancy). Like the Kardashians, but with more feminist rage. Plus, toilet queue of the week.

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