Catholics and Kotex

Thursday, May 25th, 2006 · 38 Comments »

You’ve probably heard by now that Poland has banned tampon commercials for the duration of the Pope’s visit, along with ads for lingerie, contraceptives, and booze. They’ve also banned ice cream, since apparently Polish ice cream is some lethal shit in summer what with the food poisoning and all and they don’t want people just keeling over in front of the Pope. (One imagines globetrotters all over the world making mental notes not to order the hot fudge sundae next time they’re in Krakow.)

I can’t possibly improve on Twisty’s commentary: Poland Terrified Pope Will Find Out About Menstruation. What I can do, however, is offer this long-forgotten memory that arose, unbidden and unwelcome, at news of Poland’s terror.

My ex-husband, the former Catholic missionary, was raised in a god-soaked Catholic household where women’s “sanitary things” were considered not fit for male eyes. He was himself a liberated dude with feminist sympathies, but like most of us, he carried around childhood assumptions he’d never questioned. The first year we were married we lived in a little apartment with one bathroom, and my “sanitary things” were stored on the shelf with the other supplies. When my ex-husband’s teenaged brother came for a visit, my ex assumed that I would hide my things away. He was very surprised when I didn’t.

“I just don’t think he should be exposed to that stuff,” said my ex, referring to his brother.

“There’s nothing wrong with ‘that stuff,’” I replied tartly. Menstrual supplies, I said, should be no more shameful than rolls of toilet paper or anything else in the bathroom. “Besides,” I pointed out, “you have three sisters. I think your little brother knows about Our Monthly Visitor by now.”

To his credit, my ex-husband instantly saw the error of his ways. But it was, for me, a glimpse into a mindset that I had been largely spared: a world where women’s things are “dirty” and “shameful” and must be hidden away. Gah.

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38 Responses to “Catholics and Kotex”

  1. Mandos says:

    Is this steve we’re talking about here? :)

  2. Paul Tergeist says:

    Is this the comedy thread? The ex-Pope was Polish. Suddenly the new Pope is back in the middle ages? None of that can possibly be true. You are exaggerating or, worse, making it up. Je Accuse!

  3. cicely says:

    I have ceased menstruating and kind of regret that I’ve lost the opportunity to flourish an unused and still wrapped tampon as one does a cigarette, place it between my lips and lean towards some unsuspecting man I’m aquainted with to ask ‘have you got a light?’ This used to be my little jokey workplace revenge, (as well as ‘what the hell is wrong with the world that this little item could possibly be so embarrasing or offensive that I should be expected to secretly slide it into my pocket on my way to the bathroom’) for the pre-feminist awareness fears and actual humiliations I suffered when for some reason or other my teen-age attempts to conceal the evidence that I was ‘on the rag’, had failed. (I was menstruating for two years before I found the courage to insert a tampon.)

    If this story is true I hope some Polish feminists arrange a tampon and toilet roll throwing incident or some other such display. Perhaps a sculpture.


  4. Alon Levy says:

    It gets better, Violet – the relevant Polish cities have banned alcohol for the duration of Ratzinger’s visit, even though Ratzinger himself will be served wine during the ceremonies.

  5. will says:

    On a related note, I gave my son a speculum to play with when he was three but only after he learned that it must always be kept warm.

  6. Alon Levy says:

    Oh, I know why I’m so screwed up – it’s because I had free access to my mom’s tampon boxes, not that I knew what tampons were for until I was about 10-11.

  7. Infidel says:

    Menstration is a subject I am not at liberty to discuss. Knowledge of it is completely the purview of the female of the species and I could not possibly comment.

  8. Steve says:


    Violet and I have decided that our marriage should no longer be mentioned on the blog. I will honor Diane’s — I mean Violet’s — wishes.


  9. Mandos says:

    OK. I shall avoid reminding you of the painful memories then. Excruciating, I’m sure.

  10. Paul Tergeist says:

    Wait a minute….Violet starts the blog; shows it to Steve (no doubt searching for patriarchal approval); invites Steve to participate; spars back and forth; DISCUSSES INCIDENTS in their marriage, and THEN after Mandos’ prompting, suddenly discovers that she doesn’t want to talk about it?

    Is this April First, or what?

  11. Steve says:

    Guys: You are looney.

    First the memories aren’t painful, they are wonderful. Ever heard of incompatability? There never was or never will be another Violet. Believe me, no one in their right mind would ever want to be married to me.

    She was a catch and to say I squandered a great opportunity doesnt evenb begin to describe the idiocy and self-centeredness aand insanity that I brought to a relationship.

    Second, anything I have ever known or even iamgined about feminism, Violeta taught me.

    Please drop the marriage as a topic.

  12. Steve says:

    And it was ME who was responsible for deciding that this topic is finished.

    Please respect my wishes.

  13. Steve says:


  14. Paul Tergeist says:

    Wait a minute….Steve eggs Violet to start the blog; sees she did better than he could, have so he participates (no doubt searching for matriarchal approval); spars back and forth; DISCUSSES INCIDENTS in their marriage, and THEN after Mandos’ prompting, suddenly discovers that he doesn’t want to talk about it?

    Is this April First, or what?

  15. Violet says:

    Had much to drink tonight, Steve?

  16. Steve says:

    yeah so I threw back a few shots of Heaven Hill.

    at least its none of that absinthe crap you used to force on me

  17. Paul Tergeist says:

    Don’t matter to me, I can take either side. Marriage isn’t the topic. “Catholics and Kotex” is. But thanks for telling everyone that the story WAS about you. Consider it dropped, bub.

  18. Steve says:


    i am dead serious

    the marriage never gets mentioned again. Not even jokingly.

  19. Paul Tergeist says:

    I guess you are speaking to me but I don’t know why. I have never brought up the secret word as a subject. That was you. None of us even knew until you babbled on about it..not once, but in every thread in which you posted. I don’t care one way or the other, never did, never will.

    But after you made it a point that everyone should know all about it and now decree, whether through whim, caprice or Jim Beam that it’s not a fit subject for man nor beast, I gotta tell you to kiss my ass. Capice?

  20. Steve says:

    Sorry Paul….a misunderstanding

    I meant that I will never mention it again.

    and that is my final word

  21. Paul Tergeist says:

    OK, mine too.

  22. Violet says:

    How you guys doing over here? Anybody need a refill?

  23. Steve says:

    No refill, thanks Vi, but the whole exchange got me so unnerved that i just went out to White Castle for four double cheeseburgers and a large chocolate shake. I don’t drink so that is how I calm myself down.

    Those of you who are not easterners in the US might not know that White Castle is the zenith of the American hamburger, small yet delectable morsels of molten faux cheese and mystery meat affectionately called “belly bombs.”.

    In other words, Ill be up all night.

  24. Mandos says:

    I. See.

    So, it wasn’t just an amusing flirtatious act. Amazing.

    OK, mum’s the word from now on.

  25. will says:

    mmmmmmm White Castle!!

    They actually sell frozen White Castle burgers at Ukrops around here.

  26. Steve says:


    I WAS up all night.

    Stay away from them.

    They’re poison.

    I should have taken Vi up on the offer of a drink instead.

  27. Violet says:

    at least its none of that absinthe crap you used to force on me

    That reminds me that I haven’t had an absinthe party in a while.

    Mandos, I’ve never met Steve in my life. My real ex-husband was a neo-Marxist/liberation theology Catholic missionary. Steve, as you’ve gathered, is a Jewish professor who likes to get hammered on Friday nights.

  28. Mandos says:

    All right. This is just way too meta for me. And I say this as a person who loves meta.

  29. Steve says:


    No meta. No nothing. Its OK

    Ive never met Vi in my life.

    I like meta too.

    I just like Reclusive Leftist.

    Really like it.

    Sorry for the confusion.


  30. Paul Tergeist says:

    There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call “The Twilight Zone”.
    -Rod Serling discussing this thread

  31. Steve says:

    “I was a jerk.”

    -Steve discussing this thread

  32. Alon Levy says:

    “‘“‘“…This is a quote…”’”’”

    -Me, in this comment.

  33. belledame222 says:

    We many of us have our moments of jerk. (waving white hankie)

    so, what exactly is supposed to happen to a man if he’s “exposed to that stuff?” ’cause i’d kind of like to see, you know, if it involves melting and shriveling or something.

    “it burns!! it burrrnnnnnsss”

    cicely, I love that approach.

    is this a good time to share my fantasized response for next time I get a “oh, is it that time of month?” from a dude?

    it’s rather vulgar.

  34. Buy Propecia says:

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  35. CR says:

    Isn’t Procecia that drug that woman of child bearing age can’t even touch if it’s laying on the bathroom counter because it’s so dangerous to females and any potential baby they may have for years to come. Just a tiny miniscule amount can cause severe birth defects?

    just a little thing. Most ladies don’t care all that much if he’s got hair on his head or not. And if they do they are too high maintance and trouble. They mostly value greatly (especially in this lonely day and age) just a nice, decent, straight up kind of guy. Hair or no hair.

  36. Mandos says:

    No, apparently it is probably not that dangerous to women, even pregnant ones, but one should be careful:


  37. Mandos says:

    That link didn’t parse correctly. Hmm.

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