‘Flex’ is vexed by period sex

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

Once a month blood trickles from my vagina. I do beg your pardon for this – I know I should hide my monthly shame from you, because this is a sex blog and menstruation is grotesque, so I should really only talk about it in whispers. But it’s worth mentioning because a new product has arrived on the market that could mean I never have to show evidence of menstruation ever again – even when I am shagging the guy I am closest to in the whole wide world! Joy! Celebration! Let’s all pretend that periods don’t happen because if we think about it too much we’ll never fuck again!

Flex – the menstrual product that thinks menstruation is gross

Meet The Flex. It’s a soft, circular, disposable alternative to the tampon. You wear it at the entrance to your cervix, and it catches all the blood and bits of flesh that come out while you’re on the rag.

As an alternative to tampons, it may well be more environmentally friendly, comfortable, or whatever. I doubt it’s as environmentally friendly as the Mooncup, for instance, because it’s still disposable, but for the purpose of this piece let’s file that under ‘I don’t give a shit.’

What I’m interested in is the fact that Flex’s PR strategy seems to be ‘let’s get people talking about period sex!’ They have done some research that shows 30% of people want to have more period sex, and yet 45% of women have had a male partner turn down sex because they’re on their period. So: they roll out the wagons, with loudhailers gaffer-taped to the sides, and they parade through the streets shouting “You can now have period sex, people!! Our magical tampon-replacement product means you can now do this thing! Hooray! Aren’t we brilliant?! Let your joy flow as freely as your period blood doesn’t!”

And then, of course, they have to assure us that period blood is perfectly natural and not in any way ‘disgusting.’

Weird, huh? To assure us that this thing which happens to our bodies is not gross, yet simultaneously offer us a solution that will keep it hidden from sight.

Of course menstruation is OK! It is fine and normal and healthy! But by the way here’s how to make sure no one ever knows that it happens to you.

It would be like me saying ‘of course your spunk is OK, but would you mind popping into the next room and finish yourself off into a rag so I never have to see or smell it?’ Like FemFresh trying to tell us that vaginas are lovely, while selling us products that rely on the belief that they’re disgusting and they smell. Or maybe like telling someone that eating is perfectly natural and healthy, but insisting you go and do it in the toilet because it’s distasteful to make other people watch. OH WAIT we do that, as long as the person eating is a baby and the person feeding it is doing so via their breasts.

YAY for body positivity!

Period sex pros and cons

I understand that not everyone is comfortable with period sex. I would likely, with a new partner, let him know that I’m menstruating before we start fucking, so he can make an informed choice about whether he wants to do it – at the very least I’d want to give him the opportunity to put some sheets down. I also understand that even if you’re comfortable with the fact that your own body bleeds once a month, you may still not be comfortable fucking on your period. That’s OK. It’s a complicated issue, and one which has been so steeped in shame for so many years, these attitudes can be hard to shake off.

Not everyone is, like me, super-horny when they’re on their periods, and happy to make a mess. Not everyone has special sheets you can put down to protect all your John Lewis cotton. I get it, I promise I do.

But if you are a company that makes products designed to save people from what they (and, presumably, YOU) think is a distasteful dribble of human waste, don’t fucking bullshit us by simultaneously telling us that you’re totally body-positive and cool with it. If Flex thought period blood was OK, and period sex was natural, then why are they selling this product off the assumption that it is not? Why is ‘preventing mess during period sex’ the cornerstone of their PR strategy?

I am categorically not saying that ‘Flex’ is a bad product. It’s a circle of stuff that sits at the entrance to your cervix and catches menstrual blood: there are many things it can do for you that are good! If you’re a porn performer who needs to be able to shag without blood, for instance, this might be great for you! Equally if you can’t get on with tampons, towels, or any of the other products on the market, this one might work really well for you. My issue isn’t with the product itself, it’s with the seemingly two-faced marketing.

I like having period sex, and I am not bothered about the mess. These things make sense. There is no cognitive dissonance in holding them to be true at the same time. Flex, on the other hand, simultaneously celebrates period sex while also treating it as a ‘problem’ that requires a solution in the form of its product. The company does this, understandably, because society has a bunch of assumptions about menstruation being ‘gross’, so there’s a market for products that minimise the perceived grossness. But if you think society’s assumptions about menstrual blood are wrong, marketing your product off the back of those assumptions is a cynical and shitty thing to do.

By all means make your product if you think there’s a need for it, but don’t try to have your cake, eat it, then ask your customers to swallow a portion too.

8 Comments

  • P says:

    Just another thought, from a man’s POV, what happens if the man is long enough to push against or move it? Wouldn’t it possibly hurt both the woman and the man?

    Just put some sheets down and get to it….. Anyway your not a real man until you get blood on your sword!! :-)

  • Zak J Keir says:

    Thing is, menstrual blood *is* a waste product. It’s shed from the womb when it isn’t being used to grow a fertilised egg into a foetus. That doesn’t make it any more shameful, disgusting or taboo than piss, or any less of a waste product. To some people, it’s hugely erotic, for a variety of reasons. Menstrual blood is possibly the second most fetishized waste product (with piss being #1 and puke, snot, shit and, almost certainly, pus from zits being a source of erotic delight to some people). Spunk, along with cunt juice and spit, is maybe not quite in the same category.

    I never liked period sex very much (when I still had periods) but that was more to do with the fact that I felt too physically uncomfortable in terms of uterine pain to want to fuck. I appreciate everyone’s mileage varies, but I don’t think this company’s marketing sounds all that bad.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hmm… I see what you mean but I think I disagree on spunk not being a good analogy. Unless I’m planning on making a baby, or specifically fetishising it as part of a sex act, technically spunk itself is no more than a waste product (it’s just getting wiped off, squeezed out, or washed away after all).

  • Jul says:

    It’s so ridiculous to shill menstrual cups as the product for people who are, to paraphrase the website, embarrassed about their periods and hiding tampons. You get a LOT more up close and personal with menstrual blood when you’re removing and emptying a full cup than when you’re using tampons. And if a menstrual cup leaks, it’s not just a few drops. That shit is running down your leg.That said, I’ve been using Instead Softcup since I was a teenager and I don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t too.

    Tampons don’t just absorb menstrual blood, they also soak up all those good vaginal secretions that both keep your cunt healthy and allow for nice slippery period sex. (Does blood work well as a lubricant? Honestly, I’ve been using these things for so long that I’ve never had a chance to find out.) Tampons and pads both smell kind of awful (again, not a period shame issue, I just have a really sensitive nose and I don’t like the smell), but since menstrual cups keep blood from being exposed to the air, no scent problems. And they’re much more comfortable. My vagina loves comfortable.

    As for the eco-friendly thing, these chunks of plastic are kind of a disaster. Softcup was making a reusable cup that lasted for one period, but they’re not available right now and I’m sad. So yeah. Sorry this sounds like an advertisement, but you’ve caught me at the end of my period, which is always a miserable affair filled with migraines and puking (AND being super-horny, which is a crappy combination). I love me some menstrual cups, they’re one of the only things that makes my period tolerable.

    To answer your question, P, some guys can feel it, some can’t. The ones who can have found it either annoying or pleasurable. I can’t speak to this particular product, though.

    • Azkyroth says:

      Blood from wounds has proteins in it that make it coagulate and tend to dry and thin easily, to reduce bleeding, so to the disappointment of certain vampire fan fiction writers, it has essentially the opposite properties one wants in a lubricant. Not sure if that carries through to menstrual blood.

  • Archie says:

    You could almost believe that their PR department never saw this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nzrhTKWjOI

  • Hazelthecrow says:

    I used to love period sex, but my current beloved isn’t keen. No biggie, I just tell him when I’m on and we amuse each other in other ways. I’m all for more period positivity but agree that this product is way, way off in appropriating body positivity messages while completely missing the point. Also Femfresh can take a running jump.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.