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A maxi-pad is a tool utilized by women to absorb personal vaginal discharge and avoid undergarment staining during their internal 'regulatory' moment of the female lunar cycle-time. Officially known as menstruation but more commonly as the red flood, maxi-pads have had a quiet, slow and secretive evolution in finding ways to mop up daily secretions, mask musky odours and to keep expensive frilly underwear clean. The history of the maxi-pad is ominous and at the very least controversial. Its very mention, was, has been, and is slightly less but still quite taboo in almost all societies, though actively talked about in France which has a national day dedicated to sanitary napkins followed by a twelve day strike and riots in poor neighbourhoods. Some societies however view the maxi-pad as abominable. Mentioning the word maxi-pad in Saudi Arabia (where period is synonymous with hurt and pollution) results in instant public burning of the blasphemer, along with the victims wife and all of her maxi-pads. Only men participate in the burning ceremony. Women are busy hysterically finding a way to not only deal with their monthly period (most women claiming that their regular cycle is rather inconvenient), but also to hide it as best they can with no help, sympathy nor tools from men. The development of the maxi-pad over the years from "unspoken abomination" to slick marketed disposable toiletry has shown rare spurts of rapid change and ingenuity. On the worst of voluminous periods, a woman can lose up to 20 centilitres of blood a day which is considered heavy and messy by any standards. Maxi-pads have come to be a welcome tool by woman to deal with this problem, for whom their husbands have "always" never cared and threatened divorce if the problem wasn't quickly, quietly and inconspicuously dealt with.
Since men, in charge of all tool making and devices designed to make life easier for man spent their time making tools that make life easier usually for men, maxi-pads were a "tool concept" only conceived of by men with wives with menstrual flows which were completely out of control and embarrassing or most likely dangerous. Most of such women were divorced and banished from their villages, but the occasional man with no alternative suggested (in deep secret) that they construct devices from old cloths, tree bark, or sheep. Quietly copied by other women, who whispered these secrets to each other, over hundreds of generations of trial and error women learned to keep their monthly ketchup jamboree out of anyone else's business, minds and know-how. The maxi-pad had a separate though equally dark history in Asia, where it is reputed that a king, with a serious diarrhoea problem put sewn layered strips of cotton, attached to a silk belt tied to his Kimono, in order to be able to deal with his courtly business. His wife would steal one every month, soil it and then burn it afterwards. The court quickly caught on and the women copied it and all rich females were allowed (more not executed for doing so) to use them as long as the King had an ample supply and that no one talked about his diarrhoea, nor the women's periods.
It was not just men in history who showed their prejudice against that which they did not understand nor find icky (though do we not always find blood a little scary?), but it is also god himself who says in the bible and Koran that the whole bloody ordeal is dirty and unclean and to be done away with and concealed as well as possible. It is this very Judaic history that began the mess we are in now (men squirming at the mere hint of shedded eggs and uterus blood). While men may be cowardly deniers of nature, the Judite woman were fortunate to not be burned alive for her sin (spending a few days in isolation if lucky) and the idea of a man made fluid absorber was one of menstrual dreaming.
“And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even ... And on the eighth day she shall take unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”
“They ask thee concerning women's courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution: So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean.”
The slow evolution of such material, absorption rates, various sizes, hide-ability and discreteness have evolved at about the same rate as the evolution of science itself, despite the fact that no women were scientists until recently and that men up until then were completely unaware of the hardships (or were simply in denial) of said female regulatory hooch leaking. The appearance of complicated sanitary napkins is thus akin to the sudden appearance of sophisticated surgical non do-at home abortions also done until then in secret by woman by laborious and tenuous trial and error (also claimed by women to be rather inconvenient).
Once the word "period" became "special word" with a "special meaning" in the Oxford dictionary (though only one half of the world has ever seen anything special about it), and once woman had money to spend, became educated and finally when men started to care about the comfort of their lesser double chromosome, huge advances in the art of menstrual discharge absorption solution tools elevated the old sewn rags into mass produced, highly researched, technically sophisticated and disposable maxi-pads.
We have come a long way since the days of socially isolating women from the tribe during their mensies and burning everything they had touched to a time where toiletry companies make handsome profits selling cheaply made, mostly working plastic and cotton based blood absorbers. While strips of cotton, glued together forage and marine life were once used they proved impractical materials for fabrication once mass production of maxi-pads began. At first, companies lost serious money while producing maxi pads as no shops wanted to sell plastic/cotton sanitation pads openly. One cannot pass through a drug store in the 21st century without seeing hundreds of hygiene products and their ubiquitous blue dot illustrations showing absorption rates and markedly different prices. It is now a multi-billion dollar industry cornered by a few large companies and a couple evil corporations squeezing money out of bleeding women.
While more efficient and keeping the discharge far more personal and out of the minds of men, maxi-pads have become a major pollution problem and polute much more than the original vag discharge to begin with. Since periods are now joked about or used to explain why naughty husband's wives are actually angry, the period still remain a great taboo, no one has proposed any solution to the problem as to admit that there is a pollution problem is to admit that periods are something important, and to admit that periods important is to admit that women have inconvenient problems and to admit that women have inconvenient problems is to admit there is more to the world of problems than men's problems. Which is blasphemy and would result in more burnings in Saudi Arabia tomorrow.
edit Different designs of maxi-pad
Any woman who has visited a Walmart in recent years is well aware of the fact that maxi-pad aisles now comprise 12/13ths of the entire store. Many women claim that due to the mind boggling selection of maxi-pad styles and sizes, it now takes more time to read, contemplate, asses and select a maxi-pad than to buy a pair of jeans. In order to avoid undue exacerbation of PMS, most health authorities now advise taking several boxes of maxi-pads to the dressing room in order to try them on first, or if pressed for time, reading the following summary by Consumer Reports:
Lunapads - These are made from fabric and are washable, very handy for women who like to wash blood soaked rags every hour.
Waffles - This breakfast snack is highly absorbent, soft, and comfortable, a very versatile pad for the career woman 'on the go'.
Toilet paper - For really cheap women with minimal flow who don't mind having spotted underwear.