On free bleeding

Content warning: this post discusses menstruation and body policing

Every now and then, manchildren freak the fuck out over “free bleeding”. Sadly, the feminist response to this seems to be “eww, no, nobody actually does that, it was made up by 4chan.”

As always, that’s not the whole story. Yes, 4chan may have created a freebleeding hashtag, based on the thing a bunch of 13 year old cis boys find most horrifying. That doesn’t mean that isn’t something that people don’t do.

I know this because I free bleed. Towards the end of my period, I simply cannot be bothered with using my menstrual cup any more, so I boil it up and put it away from next month, and just say “fuck it” and let the blood flow freely. It’s free, and it’s a damn sight less hassle than having to reinsert a menstrual cup when my cunt isn’t completely slick with blood as it is on the earlier days.

Everybody has a different way of dealing with their menstruation, and for me, I don’t really notice much of a smell, and there’s nothing much to stain because I don’t wear knickers and I usually wear black. On the last day or two of my period, there isn’t much blood, so free bleeding for a day or two a month is a thing I’ve found works for me.

Menstruation is a deeply personal thing, and what works for one person might not work for another. Free bleeding is not a myth, it’s something which works for some people.

As feminists, we must always resist the call to assimilate and seek out patriarchal head-pats. Society has a bit of a hangup about menstruation, but that doesn’t mean we have to pander to it. We should all be able to find out what works for us, and that discovery is hampered by squawks of disgust and denial surrounding ways which we live with our periods. It is not right to police how others menstruate, which is precisely what is happening when feminists proclaim that free bleeding is something which never happens, that it was made up by cis boys to provoke a grossout response.

Free bleeding is real, and it’s not something to be brushed away. Feminists should know better.

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with Sam Ambreen. You can read the whole conversation here

6 thoughts on “On free bleeding”

  1. Never heard of noseblindness? Just because you may not be offended by your own smell, it doesn’t mean others arn’t. Unless someone literally cannot help their odour, no one should be socially accepted for unsocial behaviour

    1. Here’s the thing- it’s been independently verified.

      The sooner we drop this myth that MENSTRUATION IS STINKY OMG the sooner we can actually get shit done. Nice try concern trolling though.

  2. I can’t find a decent source for this but read something really interesting about class and menstruation recently. Apparently free bleeding was common in the UK amongst the working class, even after sanitary wear was available. Middle class women offered sanitary wear for factory workers but it was mostly turned down as it was considered unhealthy. Suffragettes were shocked to find there wasn’t sanitary wear available in prison as many inmates didn’t use it. So clearly not invented by 4chan, has class significance in the UK and of course is done by all sorts of people, all over the world for all sorts of complex reasons. Menstruation isn’t dirty, human beings all have some sort of smell which is completely natural and fine.

  3. Thank you. Towards the end of a period, or now I have a coil so they are really light, I don’t see the point in giving myself thrush with plastic backed pads or jamming dry cotton tampons up there (and, really, if it is light enough to stay in my knickers and the inside of my clothes, why bother washing reusable pads?) It’s not so much a political choice as laziness.

    I did use pads and tampons and hourly trips to the loo to change both back when they were heavy, though. But that was mostly because otherwise I would constantly be sitting in a horrible lumpy sticky mess, and that’s just not pleasant…

  4. I also free bleed at the beginning/end of my period because it’s not enough to penetrate the layers of clothing I wear. I am only against free bleeding when it’s in excess amounts in public spaces. I don’t think bodily fluids of any kind should be spread or left where other people can come in contact with it, only for the sole fact that humans carry many diseases and it wouldn’t be fair to accidentally contract something because someone was careless. Running a marathon and free bleeding? That one woman who free bled while running a marathon… sure it was in public but it stayed within her body/clothing limits and didn’t transfer onto any place that someone else would contact. God, periods are not fair.

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