Do young girls really need a board game to teach them about periods? Absolutely, say Rhode Island School of Design students Daniela Gilsanz, 22, and Ryan Murphy, 23.
Gilsanz and Murphy created The Period Game for their 2014 Design and Play class and are now looking for the backing they need to get it into the homes of tweens and teens.
We know — it’s hardly The Game of Life or Electronic Dream Phone, but let’s give it a second.
The whole point of the game is to teach young girls about periods in a different way. Or to provide a way to teach them in the first place, because sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Which is crazy, considering the average woman endures around 456 periods in her lifetime (that’s roughly 2,280 days — or 6.25 years — on her period).
When I got my period at 13, my mum gave me a sanitary pad and explained how to use it, but that was pretty much it. We got zero period education at school. It really wasn’t until I left home and went to university that I understood what periods were all about — why we have them and what to expect from them.
It definitely shouldn’t be like this, and it’s very different for girls nowadays thanks to the wealth of information at their web-surfing fingertips — and to innovators like Gilsanz and Murphy, who devote time and energy to finding creative ways to make learning and talking about menstruation less awkward.
While there’s still a massive, crazy stigma around periods, times are changing — slowly, but changing nonetheless. From the recent Bodyform ad “Trapeze,” the first ever to feature a real sanitary towel, to Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui talking about her period during a live TV broadcast, there are people and companies trying to put an end to menstruation-shaming.
Some 25 years after I failed to get any education on periods whatsoever, the school my teenage niece attends teaches girls and boys about menstruation as part of their sex ed classes. My niece was happy to discuss periods with me — something that would have made me die inside at her age. But when I asked her if she’d want to spend time playing The Period Game? “Nah,” she said. “I’d rather play Monopoly.”
So maybe The Period Game isn’t for everyone. But if it gets us talking about and normalizing periods, we’ve gotta get behind it.