August, a tampon brand led by CEO Nadya Okamoto, is drawing controversy with its mission to create a gender-inclusive brand that caters to “menstruators” and not women. In a recent interview with “CBS Mornings,” the 25-year-old entrepreneur shared her vision for August and the importance of breaking down the stigma surrounding periods.
Okamoto, a Harvard graduate, believes that periods are a natural biological process that contributes to human life. However, she carefully avoids mentioning women as the sole group experiencing periods, instead opting for the term “menstruators” to refer to potential customers.
In the interview, Okamoto emphasized the need for a gender-inclusive approach, stating that August wants to be a proudly gender-inclusive brand. The product’s packaging clearly states, “we’re here for everyone who menstruates,” reflecting the brand’s commitment to inclusivity.
During the interview, Okamoto expressed her concern about the shame and embarrassment often associated with menstruation. She pointed out that history and society have perpetuated a stigma that makes menstruators feel ashamed of their bodies. These are the issues August aims to challenge amid its bid to promote a positive view of periods, according to its CEO.
Okamoto further explained that many young “menstruators” lack essential knowledge about menstruation, which can lead to confusion and fear.
“It always breaks my heart to hear so many stories every day of young menstruators who get their period and have never heard about it, right? Because suddenly you think you’re bleeding out,” she stated, emphasizing the importance of education and highlighting the misconceptions surrounding period blood, such as its color and the possibility of clotting.
Beyond her message, social media users took issue with her repeated use of “menstruators.”
“Let me help her out: It’s WOMEN. Say it extra slow so she can understand,” one user tweeted.
Let me help her out:
It’s WOMEN. Say it extra slow so she can understand.
— Rochelle Wentz (@rochellewentz) July 6, 2023
“She better hope the trans buy a lot of them. Because I won’t,” another user wrote.
She better hope the trans buy a lot of them. Because I won’t.
— Theo🍎Cost (@cost_theo) July 7, 2023
Even someone claiming to be liberal deemed the snub of the word “women” “ridiculous.”
According to the New York Post, August’s commitment to inclusivity is clearly outlined in its “About” section. The brand claims to prioritize inclusivity beyond gender, aiming to cater to individuals regardless of race, culture, abilities, or socioeconomic background.
While the company’s mission has gained some attention on the left, some may question the practicality and necessity of a gender-inclusive approach to menstrual products. Critics argue that menstruation is inherently linked to female biology and that attempting to detach it from women’s experiences diminishes the significance of the female body.
Critics also argue that by broadening the focus to include a small population of trans and non-binary people who also have periods, the unique needs and challenges faced by women in relation to menstruation may be overlooked.