Interviewed: 6 cis-men (17-29), 2 non-binary people (20s) and 11 cis-women (15-30).
A mixture of Black-British, White-British, British-Asian and Vietnamese, all able bodied. 70% students.
Interviewed people form a range of ages, ethnicities, genders and locations in the UK. I then compared this to a few interviews in Vietnam. My main focus was on cis-men. I found them this an interesting target group because they were the furthest away from the experience of menstruation, yet would all know someone in their lives who would be affected by periods. I also targetted cis-men in their late teens/ early 20s, who were likely to be in more mature relationships with people in their lives who are mensturating.
Key research questions for cis-men:
- Have you ever heard of a period?
- When was the first time you heard about periods?
- What happens during a period? Probe on physical effect, probe on mental effects, probe on type of blood
- What do you think are some of the challenges for people who have periods? Probe on daily routine, probe on access to products, probe on use of products
- What ways do you think people can manage their period?
- What can you tell me about the types of people who have periods?
- How do you think you could support people on their periods?
Two initial thought processes came out of this research:
- People who don’t have periods don’t know how to show their support for people on their period
- Periods seem to come at an inconvenient time for people
I first went down the route of time and started developing some watches which were based on streaks of blood made out of resin. The concept was that people who bought the watches supported a period charity, in a similar way to live strong bands, and others would see it as a status symbol. I quickly realised this wasn’t going anywhere, and people didn’t understand the visual metaphor.
I then started thinking about developing a visual metaphor, and that’s when I got the idea of the plaster. These were initially made of bandage paper and cotton which I tested with my focus groups. I knew I had my eureka moment when my brother came down the stairs, saw what I was doing, laughed, and said ‘I’d actually wear those!’. This sparked a really interesting conversation about how the plasters compared to sanitary pads.
Who should have been included in this work, but was not.
I did not, and could not, capture everyone’s voices while researching this project. However, there were some groups who I did not actively reach out to, and thus could have been negatively impacted from my work due to blind spots in my work. These were:
- Transgendered people
- People with disabilities
- Very young children
- Those who don’t have access to sanitary towels
I found that transgender people were especially crucial for this project, and admittedly, at the time of researching this project I didn’t know where to start and how to bring up this conversation with trans people. I had spoken with some non-binary people for the project, who had given me lots of feedback, but felt like in all I was missing a massive angle of the project. I now know that I could have taken the project to grassroots organisations, friends of friends or even online campaigns and paid people for their time. I was very junior as a design researcher and had not properly thought through all these methods.