In several parts of the world, menstruation is not spoken about as a normal biological process but as a shameful secret. India is no different. To date, medical shops wrap sanitary napkins in newspapers or put them in black plastic covers so women needn't be ashamed of carrying them.
One of the top brands of sanitary napkins in India is 'Whisper', a name that comes from the shame and secrecy associated with buying such a product. Owned by Procter & Gamble, the sanitary napkin is called Always in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany and Africa. In India and other Asian countries, however, the brand is called 'Whisper'.
Now, a petition on Change.org started by Shreya Gupta of Bengaluru is asking Whisper to change its name. The petition is accompanied by the following reasoning:
"Every year in India, about 2 crore girls enter puberty. Very often, especially for those with access to TVs, their first introduction to their Periods involves the brand â€˜Whisperâ€™. And having to go to a store and ask for â€˜Whisperâ€™ subliminally instructs them that periods are something to be secretive about, re-affirming the archaic Indian mentality even amongst girls. The year is 2017 and menstruation is still a hushed topic even in Indiaâ€™s most urban areas.
We believe that Whisper can make a potent statement to the entire country by choosing to name itself something more liberating and empowering. And in doing so, help erase the stigma against a woman when she is on her period by creating room for dialogue and education about the subject."
In a video that goes with the petition, two young women talk about the power of a name and how 'Whisper' contributes to creating a negative idea about menstruation. The women say that despite all of Whisper's efforts to break the taboo around menstruation through their progressive advertising, the brand name sends out a subliminal message - that you have to be secretive about your period and whisper about it.
The two of them ask why women are required to 'whisper' rather than 'roar' about it.