Sometimes, I use Feminist Friday to talk about hard-hitting issues, large political quagmires, and major problems in gender representation. Sometimes I use Feminist Friday to laugh hysterically about things, like a chiropractor who wants to sell a glue/lipstick to seal in menstrual blood. Guess which one this week is going to be?
In general, I consider chiropractors to be one step above acupuncturists (because it at least feels good when someone pops your back) and one or more steps below basically any other licensed medical professional. I used to think that at best they were mildly useful hacks who mostly took your money every week to do the same thing that a friend who can give good bear hugs could do, and at worst they could mess up your spine even worse than it already was. Now I know that at worst, they can be misogynistic assholes who don’t understand chemistry and thinks that popping spines into place means he’s pretty hip to the whole anatomy thing and knows how more about vaginas than women do.
My science girl crush, Kavin Senapathy, explains that the product, named Mensez because the dude thinks he’s freaking clever, is the brainchild of Wichita chiropractor Daniel Dopps. The product already has a patent, which will horrify you as much as it horrifies me once you have read the description:
“Mensez feminine lipstick is a natural patented compound of amino acids and oil in a lipstick applicator that is applied to the labia minora and causes them to cling together in a manner strong enough to retain menstrual fluid in the vestibule above the labia minora where the vaginal opening and urethra exit. The Mensez compound is instantly washed away with urine, which releases the menstrual fluid along with the urine into the toilet every time a woman urinates. No pads or tampons are needed. Safe, secure and clean.”
I am pretty sure my vagina clenched in fear just from me reading that paragraph. So, a few things for Dr. Dopps, since he appears to not understand… well, most things. He doesn’t understand most things.
First there are the issues that Senapathy and others have already pointed out: How does he plan to get this past the FDA? How does he plan on convincing women to use it? Why, if it has not passed FDA regulations, have “a small number of women tried the product”? How will the product dissolve in urine, but not in blood? What are the potential risks of holding in menstrual blood this way? Does Dopps know what the difference between a vagina and a urethra are? Does Dopps know what the differences between a vagina and a bladder are? Does Dopps know what a tampon actually does?
Then I have some questions of my own. Has Dr. Dopps ever seen more than one vagina? This is not a “hur hur, he might be a virgin” joke, this is a “for serious, does he understand the differences between women’s bodies” question. If you go to the Wikipedia page about labia, there is a very helpful (and very NSFW) picture of a variety of women’s genitals and the very different ways their labia majora and minora can appear. There would be an equally wide variety of ways that his “lipstick” could work or not work depending on the size and shape of a woman’s labia. Also, what happens if a woman wants to do anything with her vagina before she needs to pee? In addition to being the topic of many oral sex jokes (and apparently a scene in 50 Shades of Grey, but I don’t like to read books or watch movies that manipulate BDSM in order to perpetuate domestic abuse, so someone else will have to fact check that for me) sex during menstruation is totally a thing that happens. It might kill the mood a bit if you have to chug eight glasses of water in order to melt your vagina glue before sex. (This is also the new winner of my inner “sentences I never thought I would have to write” contest. I may not be able to top this one.) Also also, how in the hell would you tell if you had a tight enough/complete “seal”? You’d have to just start bleeding and hope you did enough. Are you supposed to take a hand mirror and your labia adhesive into the bathroom with you on your lunch break? Also the third, how freaking uncomfortable is this glue?! I don’t know how many people have shared my experiences of having menstrual blood turn into an adhesive that makes pubic hair, pads, and skin all stick together in a painful amalgamation (you’re learning so much more about me than you wanted to right now, huh?) but for anyone who has: it freaking sucks, right? I cannot even slightly imagine multiplying that experience across my entire genital area on purpose.
In news that will probably surprise and shock all of you, it’s also pretty clear that Dopps is a misogynist, and also somewhat homophobic. Senapathy reports:
Several women have suggested that Dopps is a misogynist, and that a man shouldn’t make products for women without firsthand knowledge of female anatomy.
He easily corroborated this charge in a response to one visitor’s comment on the Mensez Facebook page, in which he explained that “[Y]ou as a woman should have come up with a better solution than diapers and plugs, but you didn’t. Reason being women are focused on and distracted by your period 25% of the time, making them far less productive than they could be. Women tend to be far more creative than men, but their periods that [sic] stifle them and play with their heads.” Dopps added over the phone that “a lot of the LGBT community, lesbians in particular, are furious at me because I’m a white straight man.” It’s unclear where he got this notion, considering that people of varying ethnicities, sexual orientations and genders have taken issue with the Mensez concept, including heterosexual, cisgendered folks. “My receptionist is a lesbian,” Dopps added, implying that this proves he’s not sexist.
First of all, “my receptionist is a lesbian” is even more pathetic of a cop out than “I have a black friend.” Second, a pad is not a diaper. Third, am I “distracted” 25% of the time? Is that what I am? How odd, for some reason I thought I was powering through gendered tax discrimination, paying over $18,000 over my lifetime for all reproduction and menstruation related products, and enduring pain comparable to a heart attack, all while doing my best to avoid a loss of productivity. But apparently I was just too “distracted” to come up with labia glue lipstick. Man, I hate it when my lady brain and my vagina team up to make me worth less than a man.
As Senapathy points out, and as I have written about before, yes, there is a stigma against menstruation. Yes, we definitely need more and better products on the market (and while we’re at it, government funded or at least more cheaply available products) to help cisgender women cope with the side effects of menstruation. But a scientifically-dubious and potentially-injurious vaginal adhesive, especially one created by a misogynistic chiropractor, is probably not the way we want to go about creating cultural change.
Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not trying to figure out just how little some chiropractors know about, well, anything, she studies gender in popular culture.
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