We received this letter from KteeO, and she asked us to share it publicly.
I have some thoughts I would like to share if you would like to read:
I must confess that until I was facing incarceration I hadn’t thought much about menstruation in prison; but once I realized that I was going into lockup it became a worry that was always nagging at the back of my mind.
Now that I have spent an entire menstrual cycle in prison (and am half way through another) I realize that my worries were not unfounded. I have found, as have so many others, that bleeding in prison is truly a messed up experience.
It is an experience that either intentionally works to degrade inmates, or degrades us as a result of cost-saving measures; either way, the results are the same. Prison makes us hate a part of our selves; it turns us against our own bodies.
Look, I really hate to overstate things, I don’t like being dramatic, so please understand that I’m not trying to do either of those things when I talk about the effects of prison in combination with menstruation, let me explain.
First, the pads we are given, when they are not out, are inadequate (before I got here there was a time when folks weren’t given pads for two weeks); they are small and don’t have wings and we are given a fixed amount. So what about tampons? There are no tampons at the FDC. If you had the money, one used to be able to purchase over-priced tampons on commissary, but not anymore. They have been out for the first five weeks I have been here, and now without warning, they have been taken off the commissary list.
Okay, so to add to that, we can’t do our laundry and most of the folks here aren’t super comfortable sending down bloody clothes or bedding.
So the result, regardless of the prisons intention, is that even if you embrace your period, it becomes a degrading and limiting experience (speaking of degrading, don’t even get me started on getting strip searches while menstruating, especially without a tampon…) Most people in here describe having your period in prison as one of the worst things about being locked up. It creates stress and uncertainty due to the conditions that we have to deal with.
There is so much more I could say on this topic, but I think I am going to stop for now. I just know it wasn’t something I thought much about before my incarceration, and I wish I would have, so I thought I would share.
I also hope that ya’ll don’t mind that these are a huge stream of consciousness and not my most eloquent thoughts. And a huge thank you to my friend who wades through my horrible spelling and handwriting…
I want to let ya’ll know that I’m still doing just fine. I’m getting to know my new friends better; it’s always exciting when friendships start to become more than just surface. I’m still not a very good card player, but I’m pretty good at volleyball.
I have also been working out and reading a fair amount. I want to thank ya’ll for your incredible support, and again, I am sorry to those I haven’t written back yet. Your words mean so much to me.
Well anyway, keep smiling, keep struggling; in solidarity,
PS: A huge shout out to the incredible humans that are taking care of my cat friend; I miss her every night and every day, but knowing how much love she is receiving makes everything feel somewhat better.
***After writing this, Kteeo has mentioned that pads have become better, and that tampons will return to commissary at some point in the near future***