This one is definitely a keeper

The keeper can last up to forty years and is available at the SHRC.
The keeper can last up to forty years and is available at the SHRC.
Credit: 
Image courtesy of cwhm.ca
Anjali Helferty, ArtSci '04
Anjali Helferty, ArtSci '04

It’s a new day for me and my keeper.

That’s right folks—I have joined the ranks of women who have found a new solution to the period challenge. Women, listen up. Men, you should listen too, because at some point in your life some female friend of yours is going to talk about the discomforts of menstruation. Maybe by the end of reading this, you will be more comfortable with that, so please, give this a go.

Originally, the problem was that I wasn’t happy with using pads or tampons. They seemed incredibly wasteful, and I didn’t find them particularly comfortable or effective. The idea of being able to reuse the product really appealed to me — I actually felt guilty every month about having to throw out so much material. Surely there was a better way to deal with something as consistent as monthly menstruation. So what is the keeper? Up until recently, I had no idea. I first found out about the keeper about two years ago. A friend of mine was talking about this mysterious miracle device and I asked her to clarify what she was talking about. Essentially, I found out this keeper is a little rubber cup that you insert into your vagina, where you can leave it all day. At the end of the day you simply rinse the device, sanitize it and put it back in. This all sounded relatively bizarre to me. As someone who was initially terrified of tampons, I quickly decided that no matter how wonderful this keeper may be I certainly wasn’t ready to give it a try. So I didn’t.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that it was ridiculous that my personal aversion to sticking a cup into my vagina was resulting in my being so wasteful. Nevertheless, squeamishness won me over, and I stuck to single-use-only women’s products for the time being.

I overcame this discomfort after witnessing the high level of comfort displayed by someone else. I was filming a video for the 2003 production of Existere at the Sexual Health Resource Centre. The sexpert in the video was doing his usual hilarious, yet highly educational bit, and if I remember correctly, he turned on a large, pink vibrator for demonstration purposes and popped a flavoured condom in his mouth. He then started talking about the keeper. He took one out of the box to show us for the video, and he talked about how his girlfriend used it and really, really loved it.

We then moved on to a variety of other sex toys, but my mind stayed on the keeper. Why? Because it looked huge. Huge and scary.

You must be wondering how I ever decided to give this a try. Well, to be honest, it took another year. When I thought about it, I quickly decided that I just wasn’t comfortable enough to have something like that in my body. However, these fears gradually turned into a strong curiosity. What was so great about it? If other people used it, why couldn’t I? Why was I so scared of it? Eventually, as means of procrastinating my schoolwork, I visited the Sexual Health Resource Centre where I learned the keeper had a three-month return policy and could be used for approximately 40 years. I thought that was fantastic. And don’t worry, the keepers that are returned are melted and turned into something else.

As it turned out, the keeper was fantastic too. Like anything else, the keeper took a little practice to get the hang of, but eventually I found I couldn’t remember a time when I had lived without it.

Looking back, the whole process seems really ridiculous. What held me back for so long? The natural inclination is, of course, to blame society. But if we’re going to blame society then why haven’t we invented a new kind of society, one more desirable to live in? A society that is free, open and aware.

No, I’m not talking about the 70’s—that kind of freedom is over for good. What I envision is a society where women aren’t afraid of their own bodies. We can’t expect anyone else to accept us if we don’t accept ourselves, and I cannot reasonably criticize my male friends for their own squeamishness when women talk about their periods. Our monthly periods are an essential part of our lives—they are part of what makes women who we are. Have a little pride, friends. Take a moment to appreciate who you are, and do whatever it takes to make yourselves comfortable in your own skin. So start thinking about it now. Maybe, in two years, you’ll be using a keeper too.

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