While 81% of the women in the United States use tampons for protection on their monthly period, up to 90% of Saudi women use pads.
Girls here in the US found it shocking that I am not familiar with tampons. Their shock caught me by surprise. It challenged me to research the debate on the two types of protection, and to ask all the Saudi girls I know if they ever used tampons. The answer was always, “What ARE they?”
This seemingly feminine topic is rather an elemental key to much bigger issues that separate the United States and Saudi Arabia! Despite the fact that tampons have been introduced since the 1930s, no Saudi woman allowed it into their lives or that of their daughters yet.
Think about it. Had that “invention” been for men, it would not have escaped the male population -no matter what the downsides are- to try it, and make it public! However, females in Saudi are special. Before they are married, their organs are sacred and must remain anonymous even to them. Once they are married, the female organs become even more holy. They are an important factor in their new life, bearing kids, satisfying the husband, and remaining competitive in polygamy land.
As exaggerated and stereotypical this is, it remains true for the most part. The female being in Saudi is constantly weighed down by the male voice -which becomes her own- and governed by a series of fears. Fear of experimentation, fear of self discovery, fear of losing virginity, fear of vaginal infections, of diseases, of damage, of change, etc.
Apparently, however, it is not the Saudi women alone who are resisting tampons. Other countries, in East Asia for example, are no big fans either. That brings us to the question:
Is the basis of the Saudi resistance cultural, medical or simply the old generation vs. the new?