For most women, their monthly menstrual cycle isn’t something that ignites joy or feelings of glee. Instead, pain and discomfort stem to mind, and, for disadvantaged women living in extreme poverty, feelings of fear and shame.
Attempting to turn this narrative on its head are The Clams, a group of 30 women who perform water ballet in an attempt to nurture the notion that periods can, and should be, enjoyable.
The woman’s book club-turned-synchronized swimmers held their first “period drama” ballet show in Melbourne last year to highlight various issues around menstruation and raise money for women who don't have access to essential sanitary items.
"Broadly, we want to open up the conversation about menstruation,” Clams founder Francis van Beek told Whimn Online. “Women have code names for periods and we don’t talk about it around men because it’s seen as gross and disgusting. We need to have a more open and honest conversation about menstruation.”
🤜Girls around the world deserve better. Better treatment. Better protection. Better education. Better access to medical care - least of all sanitary items. On this International Day of the Girl, The Clams are standing with girls all over the world, because the costs of holding girls back are just too big for everybody ... but especially for girls 🤝👐✊️ #standupforgirls #dayofthegirl 📸@brihammond
Now, a short documentary following The Clams' first performance — Crimson Tide: A Period Piece — will have its first international premiere this November at the Paris Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
According to filmmaker Abbie Pobjoy, the Crimson Tide performance, which represents four "emotional phases" of the menstrual cycle performed to upbeat songs, is something everyone should see.
"I couldn’t help but create a documentary once I heard what these women do,” Pobjoy told Byron Bay International Film Festival. “The commitment and friendship between the performers are what binds this documentary at its core – advocating, dancing, and bleeding together through it all.”
Last month, Australia relinquished the 10% tax on menstrual hygiene products. The announcement was enthusiastically welcomed by The Clams members, who, along with various other feminist organisations, had been campaigning on the issue for years.