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November 17, 2017 by

How Tel Aviv’s New Bloody Hour Can Destigmatize Periods

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Who do you talk to about your period? When I asked people this question, the answers included everything from other people who get their periods, their partner, their doctor, and of course, “No one.” One person told me she talks about her period with everyone, except cis men she doesn’t know. Another woman said she talks about it explicitly with cis men, because of the discomfort, rooted in misogyny, it causes, and that she’ll continue to do so until that discomfort is a thing of the past.

Would you tell a bartender that you had your period? At Anna LouLou, a bar and cultural center in the Jaffa neighborhood of Tel Aviv, you can get 25% off your bill during Bloody Hour, because typically, one bleeds for 25% of a month. Bloody Hour happens on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the discount applies to the entire bar, all night. In order to get the discount, though, you have to report that you’re on your period (or whatever language you use to describe it).

Anna LouLou’s owners, Moran Barir and Dana Etgar, hope that “Bloody Hour” will replicate itself at other bars throughout Tel Aviv, Israel, and the world. On the bar’s Facebook invitation for Bloody Hour’s launch party on October 28th, Barir and Etgar declare “Time for a revolution in the nightlife scene, time for a revolution in our day to day.”

After I learned about Bloody Hour, I did a Google search for other similar bar-themed activities. What I found was a California assemblywoman declaring that “There is no happy hour for menstruation,” in response to a call to end the Tampon Tax; ” The Womb Happy Hour,” a radio show that focuses on manifesting creative intention; articles discussing the link between alcohol and menstruation. And, of course, many pieces about Bloody Hour, but nothing stateside or elsewhere…yet. (There is a longer essay to be written about Bloody Hour in the context of a place like Israel, where menstruation, and rituals surrounding it, are seen as obsessively important to religious life, but where people who menstruate are not trusted to evaluate their own bodies.)

 Bloody Hour is a revolution, because the discount is based on trust  —if you say you have your period, you get the discount. If we’re going to get binary about it, the idea of believing a woman when she tells you her experience is pretty radical. Bloody Hour also has the potential to expose the fact that not only women get their periods; trans and gender nonconforming folks who report that they’re menstruating should also get the discount if the bar is really serious about taking people’s word for it. Anna LouLou does have a history of being queer-friendly; the Bloody Hour is an important opportunity to maintain that label. Talking about your period in public and to strangers, and going to a gathering of other period-havers at a public place that others know about is an important step towards dismantling period stigma. After all, people who have periods are taught that the worst thing about your period is other people finding out about it. We go to great lengths to hide it, and the fear that the blood will be seen by another person is a source of panic for anyone with ovaries who sits and stands up 5-7 days a month. We need you, Bloody Hour, to believe all of us when we tell you we’re bleeding, to keep politicizing menstruation, and to give us a nice cocktail to take the edge off.

 The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.