In recent years, there has been a growing concern from politicians, journalists and activists alike about a rise in people in the UK who are unable to afford menstrual products on a regular basis. The rise in so-called ‘period poverty’ has been reportedly linked to enforced austerity measures by the current government. ‘Period poverty’ is said to result in a wide array of issues (ranging from hiding away from public life during menstruation to various healthcare concerns). A recent survey of 1000 women and girls by Plan International UK, suggests that ‘period poverty’ could effect 1 in 10 girls in the UK.
The ‘Period Poverty’ Project
The way ‘period poverty’ is shown in the media highlights new social and cultural formations within the current moment of austerity as narratives of gender inequality, feminist activism and social justice come to the foreground. As of yet, despite this surge of public and media discussion, there is little academic investigation into ‘period poverty’. There is little research that analyses how ‘period poverty’ is shown in the media, considers how such representations are made meaningful by people and if this all challenges or furthers current social inequalities under austerity.
Through conducting interviews and analysing demographic information, policy and media representations, The ‘Period Poverty’ Project aims to:
- Analyse the representational and empirical landscape of ‘period poverty’
- Examine how social inequalities materialise through this landscape
- Examine the relationship between representations of ‘period poverty’ and empirical experiences of ‘period poverty’
- Further theoretical understandings of how culture shapes the social through investigating the relationship between the representation of ‘period poverty’ and empirical experiences of ‘period poverty’
Many high profile public figures are increasingly speaking up about ‘period poverty’ (from royals, to models, to filmmakers, to celebrities, to politicians), alongside charity groups stepping in to try and stem ‘period poverty’, as this distinctly classed and gendered inequality occupies mainstream public debate. This increasing focus on ‘period poverty’ has resulted in a rise in representations of menstruation and poverty, visible through news media, social media, television and filmmaking since early 2016.
Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project
Dr Sara De Benedictis - Sara joined Brunel in May 2017. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Communications in the Department of Social and Political Sciences. Sara’s research explores the cultural politics of gender, class, reproduction and activism. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative methods, she researches the representation, production and consumption of popular culture to examine these themes. Sara has published on topics like televisual birth, ‘period poverty’, ‘poverty porn’ or #MeToo, and has contributed to public and political debates in these areas. Sara is currently researching ‘period poverty’, reproductive politics under COVID-19 and cultural production and feminist activism.
Sara teaches various modules in Media and Communications and Sociology at Brunel. She has taught on media studies, cultural studies and sociology courses at various universities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, such as City University London, King’s College London and the London School of Economics. Before entering academia, Sara worked for charities in the women’s sector.
Project last modified 21/06/2021