At one point or another, most women have whispered “Do you have a tampon?” to a female friend or acquaintance.
But what if you didn’t have to whisper? And what if you could ask a guy?
That’s what Jose Garcia, a 15-year-old high school student in Miami, wants to see happen. Garcia has skyrocketed to Instagram fame and Internet glory over the past few weeks after posting a call for men and boys to carry tampons and sanitary pads to help out the ladies in their lives.
TO EVERY BOY THAT FOLLOWS ME AND CALLS HIMSELF A MAN OR SIMPLY A GOOD HUMAN BEING. Petition for all of us to start bringing a couple pads or tampons to school to help our girl friends. If you have a girlfriend or are friends with a girl, u should know that they do not always have tampons or pads on them, or that sometimes their period just hits them without notice and have a bit of a problem finding one. We should support them with this, after all, we don't have to go trough all they they do because of menstruation, so it's just logical that we help them. You should already know to give them your sweater and not question when they wrap it around their waist. So let's step it up a notch and help them out. IF YOU HAVE ANY RESPECT FOR YOUR MOTHER, YOUR GIRLFRIEND, OR JUST WOMEN IN GENERAL I EXPECT FOR YOU TO FOLLOW ME ON THIS. To every girl that follows me. You are completely welcomed to ask me for a pad at any time without receiving a negative response or a dirty look. We should all help each other out like this so you don't have to thank me at all. #realmensupportwomen
"I really did not expect for this to get as big as it did," Garcia told The Huffington Post in an email.
In an interview with the Daily Dot, the self-described feminist said he got the idea after noticing his classmates struggle with the stigma around menstruation.
“Asking for a pad or a tampon shouldn't be such a taboo thing to boys,” he told the Daily Dot. “It's a natural thing that happens to women."
The teen told HuffPost that he has no sexist intentions. He said he's not trying to imply that women are helpless or need the help of men, "but I do believe that if anyone can help someone without anyone getting hurt or offended, then they should."
Garcia, who now has more than 14,000 Instagram followers, has mostly been met with enthusiastic praise for his post. But he also told the Daily Dot that some of his male classmates have responded with name-calling behind his back.
Garcia told HuffPost that while he doesn't know of any boys at his school following his advice, people have told him via social media that "some boys have started doing so."
His only regret? Not more closely proofreading his original post.
Garcia's goal of making periods a little less taboo is a good one.
In some parts of the world, strong stigmas around periods have consequences for women and girls that are far worse than a little embarrassment. A 2010 report by nonprofit group WaterAid explains how menstrual taboos in South Asia can lead to poor sanitation practices. Many women use cloth pads, which should be washed with soap and dried in the open air. However, the shame surrounding menstruation leads many women to wash the pads infrequently and in secret, then hide them in dark places where bacteria can grow, the report says.
Women and girls from Nepal and West Bengal told WaterAid that the notion that a menstruating woman is “impure” can dramatically affect their lives. One girl told the charity that her family failed to give her warm clothing while she menstruated in the winter because they feared the clothes would be polluted.