Introducing the Every Month team: Emma Barratt

Emma is an Apprenticeship Programme Officer who has called Manchester home for the best part of 15 years. She love cooking, eating and taking terrible pictures of food for Instagram. Emma runs a feminist bookclub and also volunteers for Sister Supporter Manchester.

What’s your role with Every Month? What will you be doing?

I’ve signed up to support with packing, campaigning and blogging. It’s a cause I feel really passionately about and I wanted to get involved as much as I could!

How did you find out about the campaign?

I work for the Co-op and I’m on the Steering Group of our Women’s Network. We worked with Beth McGlasson to arrange a collection for EM and I signed up to be one of the #100in100 fundraisers. When the opportunity to get involved came up, I couldn’t wait to get started!

What interested you about getting involved?

I just think it’s a disgrace that period poverty is even an issue in one of the world’s richest countries in this day and age.

I also really want to break down the ‘shame’ of periods. Around 50% of the population will have periods over roughly 40 years of their lives and yet there is a stigma around it. I took part in a 5 Live Radio programme about periods and the effect on my life and realised afterwards that I had downplayed how much I’m affected. If I can’t even talk about how rotten I feel every month, I imagine most people feel the same.

Where do you hope the campaign will be in a year’s time? 

Ideally, this campaign wouldn’t exist. We would be in a place where period poverty doesn’t exist and periods aren’t taboo and shrouded in stigma. If I’m being extra wishful thinking, I’d love for there to be no need for food banks either!

Who are you inspired by?

Anyone who sees a problem and tries to do something about it. I can be really guilty of talking about the things that are wrong with the world (usually over a glass of wine!) but not doing much about it.

What books/documentaries/films etc do you recommend to everyone?

Animal, by Sara Pascoe is an amazing book. Of the books read in bookclub so far, this has been the most positively received. She’s writing a follow-up about men and I can’t wait to read it.

I love a good documentary! 13th by Ava DuVernay is really powerful and thought-provoking, it theorises that incarceration rates for men of colour in America are so high because America’s economy still requires slavery. The House I Live In looks at how class / race is a factor in how drugs are policed. Miss-Representation is a few years old now, but it’s still relevant. It looks at how women are portrayed in the media and how it mirrors sexism in wider society.

I always recommend the old Columbo films too because they are amazing!

What change would you like to see in the way menstruation is currently discussed?

I’d like to see two things change. Firstly, as something that impacts around half the population for around half their lives, I’d love conversations around periods to become more normalised. Some brands are doing work in this area – using red rather than blue liquid to show the efficiency of their products, for example. It’s telling that conversations around sanitary items for homeless people and people in police custody are only just starting, it’s like people have only realised that other people have periods.

Secondly, I’d like issues around menstruation to be taken more seriously. I don’t have a condition like endometriosis, but I do have a pretty horrible time once a month. I get run-down to the point of getting cold-like symptoms (I finally found someone else who gets this and I wanted to hug her!) and I get cramps so bad I’ve thrown up before. But I don’t feel like I would be able to call in sick at work for this.

Oh, and if I could change a third thing, I’d get rid of the phrase “on the rag”, it’s horrendous!

What would you tell your younger self about periods?

Your first period won’t run out of you like a river! Also, EVERYONE leaks.

What helps you most when you’re on your period?

Using an app to keep a track of things really helped when my periods were irregular. Now they’re more regular, I still use it. Sometimes I’ll feel a bit off and snippy with my partner and I’ll check when my period is due and it will all make sense!

Days one and two are horrible. I make sure I have a constant supply of paracetamol and ibuprofen going (seriously, every 4 hours like clockwork!) and I have to make sure I take some to bed with me – there is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night with cramps!

I tend to start my period over the weekend, I am lucky in that I have the luxury of being able to spend the day in bed should it get really bad. My friends know that I get hit hard so they’re forgiving if I cry off for a date in bed with some films!

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