A ‘Period Dignity Officer’ Seemed Like a Good Idea. Until a Man Was Named.
A ‘Period Dignity Officer’ Seemed Like a Good Idea. Until a Man Named Him.
One day last February, the phone rang at the offices of the California Women’s Foundation. It was a reporter asking about the agency’s $3.3 million budget cut. “Is that a man? I don’t know,” came the reply. The reporter tried a different tack. “But he has a good name,” she said. “How can we not say anything about him?” A month later, the reporter’s phone rang at the foundation’s headquarters and a woman answered. “We don’t want to talk to him,” she said.
“It’s been tough,” another woman said.
“He’s a period-dignity-officer.” The reporter tried a third tack. “But he’s been in the news,” she said. A month later, the secretary of the women’s shelter, also identified only as a female, answered the phone. “No one is going to hire a period-dignity-officer,” she said.
The response was clear to anyone familiar with the women’s movement: No movement is complete without at least one person who wears a period-dignity-officer-style uniform. When that woman hung up, several other women were still willing to talk. “You’re talking about a man,” one told me. “Someone who takes care of women for a living,” another said. “One who says, ‘Women need to talk to someone, so I’ll ask my friend,’ ” she said. “Somehow, we couldn’t find one of those in our own community, except for all the bad old men who say, ‘I don’t want to talk to women,’ ” she said.