I have always wondered why menstrual products are not considered necessary products so no tax and even further, why the government does not provide them in schools and other government buildings free of charge. Due to feminist advocacy groups, it has come to light of late that because of the high cost access to menstrual products is not affordable to many who menstruate and that leads to them missing school or work. This, especially in the Western world, should not be acceptable.
Dutch director Emma Branderhorst’s (Under the Skin) short film Spotless takes on this subject in a rather personal and intimate way. 15-year-old Ruby (Alicia Prinsen – Hidden Stories) lives with her mother (Astrid van Eck – Daylight, Doris). They live a rather restricted life as there is not much money. For this reason, when Ruby’s period happens she does not ask her mother to buy her tampons or pads as they are expensive. So it is up to the teen to figure out how she is going to deal with her period. Desperation and shame lead her to make an unwise decision.
There is still today a taboo about talking about periods. Dunno why, but that’s how it is. So it should come as no surprise that there is also little talk about the cost of menstrual products. How they are wrongly seen as luxury products rather than necessities.
Period poverty is a reality for many around the world who have periods. Lower income people and those who are living on the street find themselves in a position of not being able to afford menstrual products as whatever money they have goes to food, lodging and other essentials. It has been shown that some when on their period, miss school or work as a result of not being able to afford tampons or pads. This is unacceptable. Especially in rich countries like the Netherlands, here in Canada or others around the world. Discussion has to be had. A film like this is looking to educate and start the conversation.
The film is a simple one but at the same time, powerful. If this does not start up the conversation, I am not sure what will. Gives screen time and a voice to an underexposed subject. Love that it is told from the perspective of someone who menstruates. That the face of those who are affected is often young. Those who do not have the means to change their situation. Those who need to go to school to get out of the economic situation they are in. It is a nuanced problem. A solution is a necessity.
The film has been screened at many film festivals around Europe and Canada.