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Politics, Periods and Social Media Don’t Mix, Apparently. Who Knew?

By Hannah Sole | Think Pieces | September 25, 2017 |

By Hannah Sole | Think Pieces | September 25, 2017 |

Over the weekend, Miss Turkey was stripped of her title. Never fear, there is no power vacuum in the Miss World system; there is already a new Miss Turkey. Phew. So what did the first one, Itir Esen do? She posted a tweet that was deemed ‘unacceptable’ by the organisers of the contest.

You’ve probably all sat through social media awareness training, and been warned that your social media posts might come back to haunt you one day. I’m sure you’re familiar with that feeling of dread; on the outside, you’re nodding along sagely and seriously, but in your mind, you’re running through everything you’ve posted recently and feeling that little bubble of fear rising in your belly, vowing to delete tweets and pictures, because OH GOD, WHAT IF I HAVE TO EXPLAIN THAT TO MY BOSS? IF THAT GOES VIRAL, WHAT WILL THE DAILY MAIL SAY?

I wonder if Esen had the same thought. Before she was crowned Miss Turkey, on July 15th to be exact, the first anniversary of the attempted coup in Turkey, Esen tweeted: ‘I got my period on the morning of the July 15 martyrs’ day. I’m marking the day by bleeding as a representation of the martyrs’ blood.’

Apparently, this caused a bit of a storm on Twitter, but it didn’t come to the organisation’s attention until after she had been crowned. And just a few hours later, that crown had been passed to the runner-up, Asli Sumen, instead.

For social media awareness purposes, I’d like to know exactly which part of that was the worst part for the organisation. Plus I have a few hot-takes, and I’d like to know which one of them is the most appropriate for the occasion… All I have so far is that she was accused of insulting the memory of the 250 people who died fighting against the uprising, and the statement from the Miss Turkey Organisation, which states that “it is not possible […] to accept such a posting.”

So what was it? Was it that she had a point of view that they didn’t like? Was it that she tweeted about her periods? Or was it the comparison of menstrual blood to the blood of the dead?

Here’s the journey of my hot-takes, just for you.

Why did she tweet about bodily functions? Why did she feel the need to share that? Hang on, is this just patriarchal squeamishness about periods? How dare they! Wait, no, you shouldn’t really compare menstrual blood to lives lost… OK, bad taste, but you can’t fire her for that, can you? Well actually (DAMMIT), if someone wrote that about any other event where lots of people died, I guess there would be a pretty big backlash…


After going round in circles a few more times, here’s my verdict. There are consequences to your actions on social media. Yes, of course there is free speech. But that just means you can’t be arrested for what you say. There are plenty of things you could say on social media that would probably get you fired. There are some political points of view that might get you fired. There are some types of behaviour that, if you post about them, could get you fired. We might not like it, but unfortunately that’s where we’re at.

But I kind of like the openness about periods, and the way that discussions about periods are becoming more open and more ‘normal’.

So how about this as a compromise: instead of making links to times when lots of people died, let’s link the day that Aunt Irma comes to visit with one of the other special events on the calendar. There’s a lot of potential here. There’s a day for everything! For example, coming up in October are such delights as World Animal Day (cuddle a puppy to celebrate!), World Smile Day (can’t promise anything), and World Food Day (much better). There’s also World Space Day, so you can honour NASA and buy 100 tampons!

The UK also celebrates National Baking Week (yessss, gimme cake!), National Curry Week (I’ll take THAT excuse), and perhaps best of all, National Sleep-In Day, with that extra hour in bed courtesy of the end of British Summer Time.

The day you get your period, check the calendar and join in with whichever special day it’s meant to be. Take it as a sign of what you should be doing to mark the occasion. If you were to tweet that, we would get to continue to normalise period talk, and there’s probably slightly less risk of being fired.

But don’t hold me to that. I can’t make any promises. Perhaps the act of talking about periods on social media is in itself a political act. Is it inherently in ‘bad taste’, or have we just become conditioned to think that way? It’s fine to guard your privacy, but have we confused ‘private’ with ‘shameful’ and ‘embarrassing’?

Perhaps the sheer number of questions in this maelstrom of hot-takes is evidence that we do need to talk about it more. At the very least, it might address the hilariously awful ignorance circulating online.

But even though it might seem like the Battle of Waterloo is going on down there, maybe don’t spell that out. One step at a time.

Hannah Sole is a Staff Contributor. You can follow her on Twitter.

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