What is free bleeding?

‘Free bleeding’ is a term used to describe having your menstrual period flow freely without the use of sanitary items like pads, tampons or menstrual cups.

Yes, it goes everywhere, but that’s kind of the point. The blood flows freely into your underwear and clothes or if you aren’t wearing any, down your legs, as a feminist statement.

Free bleeding is a feminist movement to draw attention to period stigma, the outrageous cost of tampons, pads, undies and cups, and the environmental disaster of disposable period products.

The term ‘free bleeding’ has been around for a while, but actually became more commonly used after a failed anti-feminist hoax back in 2014 intended to make women’s rights activists look crazy, as if they were just letting their periods flow freely through their clothes for all the world to see. They weren’t, for the record. But after this, they did.

In 2012 VICE published Emma Arvida Bystrom’s There Will Be Blood, a photo series of portraits of people in period-stained clothing, kicking off the feminist post that talks about free bleeding.

In 2014 an anti-feminist prank labelled Operation Freebleeding backfired, spreading awareness of free bleeding rather than provoking angry rants, as it was designed to do. Kayla Goggin did an experiment on free bleeding and wrote about it.

In 2015 musician Kiran Gandhi (Madam Gandhi) free bled her way through the London Marathon to raise awareness about the environmental impact of period products. Photos of her bloodstained legs (and those of some friends) went viral. Free bleeding activists protect the tampon tax by bleeding into white pants outside Parliament in Britain.

Free bleeding is being used to draw attention to periods, which are normally hidden and considered shameful in many cultures.

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