MENstruation: A full analysis of censorship on television networks


Ellie McCartney

The networks ABC, CBS, BBC and others are censoring Thinx’s MENstruation ad depicting men having their periods.

The ad features all ages of men experiencing their periods in all sorts of everyday situations, such as puberty, intimacy and in public places like school, at work and in public bathrooms.

What scenes are being censored from the ad?
Thinx has been asked by several television networks to cut out two scenes from their ad including the bloodstain and tampon scenes, according to the New York Post’s source.

Until these two “graphic” scenes are removed from the ad, television networks like CBS have banned the advertisement.

Why are tampon strings and bloodstains considered graphic?
Although in most cases a little white string or bloodstain wouldn’t offend most people, there are others who feel strongly about the ad being banned from television.

In fact, One Million Moms (OMM) has started a protest against the ad because it’s confusing gender roles for children.

To address these different opinions in society, networks like CBS had to consider how the ad would affect their audience. The Federal Communications Commission states that if a viewer believes an advertisement to be offensive, viewers can file a complaint to that network or station.

So, in this case, networks like ABC and others are trying to predict the ramifications of broadcasting the ad for all members of their audience to avoid protests and complaints.

Several people are posing in underwear
Photo courtesy of Thinx

The message behind the Thinx marketing campaign
Not only was Thinx, looking to address a taboo topic involving menstruation, but they also recognized the impact they could have on those struggling to afford these hygiene products.

In fact, Thinx teamed up with a nonprofit organization, known as PERIOD, to combat the stigma women face and the poverty surrounding 1 in 5 teens struggling to afford feminine hygiene products.

Rebecca Weis, a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha said that she appreciates that Thinx is trying to end the stigma.

“Even as a woman today, when I’m in a restaurant and I need to change my tampon, I do feel like I have to put it in my sleeve or hide it,” Weis said. “Why should we be ashamed?”

At first, the MENstruation ad made me smile. Not because it was funny or because men were experiencing their periods, but because of its accuracy. As a woman I experience these frustrations every month.

It was refreshing to me to see the ad before it was censored because it showed that organizations like Thinx and their partner, PERIOD, were addressing the stigma behind menstruation.

To me, the idea behind the ad was a strike of transparency that’s needed to make a social change.

After all, if everyone had to go through it maybe, just maybe, they would understand it’s a part of life. Instead of being grossed out or shamed for having our periods, we could share our frustrations and bond over them.

Like Thinx said at the end of their ad, “If we all had them, maybe we’d be more comfortable with them.”

That’s why, to me, the ad shouldn’t have to be censored to be broadcasted on television because it’s a part of life for all women of all ages.

Where can you find the MENstruation ad now?
Through the evolution of Thinx original ad, the ad was later accepted on all networks with the exclusion of the blood stain and tampon string scenes.

The ad will be aired 15 to 30 seconds for eight weeks in the United States across 18 networks.