Back in the bad old days, ‘menstruation’ was a naughty word. Now the new naughty word when we’re talking about Shark Week/Aunt Flo/the Red Baron is: Women! 

Cadet journo Courtney Withers’ recent article on the ABC website about the increasing cost of pads and tampons – an important topic, BTW, and good on her for tackling it – is liberally bespattered with the M word but makes use of the W word just twice in the 1141-word piece, pushed out in favour of ‘Australians with periods’, ‘person who menstruates’, and ‘people’ in need of period products. 

This all makes sense, once we know that the ABC participates in AWEI, which is run by gender-identity lobby organisation ACON, which also runs TransHub, which confidently asserts that ‘people of all genders menstruate, including non-binary people, agender people and even plenty of men!’ See? Menstruation’s got nothing to do with women specifically at all! But only in trans-extremist la-la land: let’s face it, in the real world, if men menstruated, pads and tampons would’ve long since been recognised as essential items and subjected to price controls. The ABC tried to tell Senator Claire Chandler that its participation in AWEI has no effect on its content; but it’s a bit much to expect us to class this sort of thing as a coincidence.  

Intriguingly, Ms Withers fronted the cameras 12 hours after her article was published on-line to do a report for the 7pm ABC News on exactly the same issue. This time there were no ‘Australians with periods’ or any ‘person who menstruates’. No. Instead we heard about ‘women trying to make ends meet’, and ‘women estimating they’re spending 15 to 20 dollars per cycle’. And Ms Withers ended her piece with a resounding description of affordable pads and tampons as ‘an essential way to bring dignity to women’. A description which we wholeheartedly endorse. 

Also intriguingly, Ms Withers totally avoided the M word in her broadcast piece, in favour of ‘period products’ and ‘sanitary items’. Hmm. Looks like the ABC is tweaking terminology to particular audiences, and is at last – and at least – aware that TV audiences are baulking at gender-speak (and Aunty also assumes we’re old-fashionedly sexist re the M word). 

However, there might be other explanations. A stickybeak of our acquaintance has asked Ms Withers for hers. Should she respond, we’ll let you know.