A man was recently appointed by a Scottish group as the country’s first “period dignity officer,” prompting an outpouring of rage.
On Twitter, former tennis player Martina Navratilova called Jason Grant’s appointment “ridiculous” and “absurd.” Meanwhile, Scottish politician Ian Blackford told Sky News that a woman would have been a better choice for the job.
Grant, a former Imperial Tobacco account manager and personal trainer, was named the successful candidate by The Period Dignity Working Group just days after legislation was introduced to give Scots access to free period products. Local councils and colleges from Dundee and Angus are represented on the committee.
Grant will work as a regional lead to raise awareness and engage young people in projects related to the Period Product Act, which involves bringing free period products into schools, colleges, and universities. The Scottish government pays for his position.
According to a spokesperson for the Period Dignity Working Group, Grant is the best candidate. “We look forward to supporting the delivery of this important work across the region by changing the culture, encouraging debate, and removing the stigma around periods,” they added.
Grant, according to the spokesperson, did not want to comment on his new role.
Charlotte O’Byrne, a fundraising manager at the UK period poverty charity Freedom4Girls, said that despite the group’s good intentions, the hiring decision was a flop.
“I recognise that there are aspects of the job that are essentially gender neutral,” O’Byrne explained. “However, women have been doing this job for free for years, and for that reason alone, there are inevitably women out there who are better suited and more qualified for the role.”
The passage of Scotland’s Period Product Act into law was “huge” for the larger campaign to make period dignity a fundamental human right, and “many feel like a woman deserved to get the job,” according to O’Byrne.
There are numerous myths about menstruation. Many countries around the world are running campaigns to end the taboo surrounding menstruation and implement free period products.
In the United States, some states, including New York, have passed legislation requiring K-12 schools to provide students with free period products. In addition, New York Democrat Grace Meng has a federal bill in committee that, if passed, would require Medicaid to cover the cost of period products.
The issue with putting a man in charge of these kinds of projects is primarily one of representation, according to O’Byrne.
“It’s more the case that many people are disappointed because it’s the first ever role of this type at such a high level and it’s been awarded to a man,” she said of the criticism. We primarily want a female voice here.”
“Yes, we want and need allyship between men and women,” she continued, “but within that, we kind of want it acknowledged that women, girls, and menstruating people are the ones who live with the inequality and have been conditioned to simply shut up and put up.”
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