Interview Transcription with Mary Flynn, founder of TAMPON TALK WITH MARY

Alice Cash: I wanna introduce Mary. So, this is Mary Flynn. The wonderful Mary Flynn who is a Los Angeles actress and recent college grad and she started the podcast Tampon Talk with Mary which is over a year old now, which is amazing. It serves as a neutral comedic forum to remove the negative taboo and stigma around the discussion of menstruation and reproductive health. She’s now living in LA, doing blogs, while working on her podcast. So, welcome Mary!

Mary Flynn: Thank you for having me, Alice. This is so nice.

Alice: Thank you so much for coming on. We’re huge fans of you here at Terra Biological and it’s been amazing to watch you grow with your followers, and your influence and to see you where you’re taking off as an actress as well.

Mary: Aww. Thank you. I love you guys and I said this before we got into the technical difficulties and figuring out your phones, we’re like old people trying to figure out Facetime, you guys have been so supportive and the episode that we had with Alan did super well.  He’s so wholesome and was a great guest on the show and then, you’re so wonderful and you’re doing the same thing where you’re at. I don’t know if I can plug your theater stuff? But you know I deliberately wore a New York shirt for you today.

Alice: Wow. Oh my gosh. I see it now.

Mary: Yeah.

Alice: Yes!  Come visit me!

Mary: I want to. I want to so bad.

Alice: You should! Come! I have a nice house. Yeah.

Mary: [laugh] Yeah. I love the theater district. I really miss it out there so hopefully, if the path works out right here I can, you know, use acting to come back to New York.

Alice: That’s awesome.

Mary: Uhuh.

Alice: You should. You should. So, we’re gonna start off today with some kind of more fun questions. So, what do I have for you? Rosé or Champagne?

Mary: Uh, Rosé. There’s a funny video that’s like a meme that talks about this girl that she just emphasizes Rosé funny and I just like Rosé, so I think I’m just gonna stick with that.

Alice: Wait, how do you emphasize it weirdly?

Mary: So she was like, this girl in this sprout’s video, she was talking about like the love of her life and she just drags it out, so she says, “Roséeeeeeeeeee” and it’s — [laugh]

Alice: [laugh] That’s great.

Mary: Oh yeah.

Alice: I only wanna say it like that now.

Mary: Roséeeeeee.

Alice: That’s great. Okay. Lipstick or lip gloss?

Mary: Red lipstick so… Perfect lipstick.

Alice: Oh, that’s nice.

Mary: Yeah.

Alice: Reese’s or M&M’s?

Mary: Reese’s. You know, I was M&M’s up until now but I think I’ve transitioned over for more peanut butter.

Alice: Wow. Big switch.

Mary: Yeah.

Alice: Tampon or pad?

Mary: Think mentally, If I’m on a, you know, if I got my life together, a tampon but most of the time it’s not, it’s probably pad.

Alice: That’s a great way to put it.

Mary: Yeah.

Alice: Yeah. And what’s always in your purse? What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

Mary: I have, you know, those, they were definitely from the ’90s but they still make them. It’s those circular bliss stacks. Little lip chapstick thing, you know what I’m talking about?

Alice: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Mary: And they smell like Vicks. Like, all their products smell like Vicks. I always have that. You can always get them at the dollar store and I’m always chapped up.

Alice: That’s awesome. Yeah. So, can you kind of tell us where you’re from? You’ve kind of made this huge trek across the country and how did you end up in San Diego and then LA? Where are you from? What brought you here?

Mary: Yeah, I think we actually ended up both of us doing the opposite, I think. Because I originally grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, so shout out to Eastern Shore anybody who’s on the stream from there. So, I grew up in Maryland, but then, I wanted to pursue acting and there’s like a lot of theater work in Maryland but it’s all community theater. So, I was looking at either New York or California for college and it was actually cheaper for me to fly out and go to school in California than it was for me to go to school in New York so, I ended up doing California. It was so expensive and for my program, I didn’t have to audition to get into the program that I completed, which is unheard of.  Usually you have to audition to get into every program, and it’s only an associates degree, but I didn’t audition to get to the program and I got a three-year bachelor.

Alice: Oh, awesome. Three years. That’s amazing.

Mary: I went to school through the summer so I cut down a year.

Alice: Wow.

Mary: But it’s San Diego, it’s not really new to break for the summer, it’s summer all the time.

Alice: Yeah, that’s true. It’s a nice way to think about it.

Mary: Yeah.

Alice: How cool. And what brought you at up to LA?

Mary: Well, every acting professor that I had, and anybody who I talked to as an actor was like, you have to live in the city to get acting work. Most of the shows are shot up here and everything. I actually live further North. So, I’m actually really close to Burbank in LA.

Alice: Oh okay.

Mary: But it’s right around the corner to Warner Brothers and then NBC. It’s like over there.

Alice: Oh nice.

Mary: So, it’s very cool.

Alice: That is cool!

Mary: I’m just doing auditions and I’m working with the Ruby so I do– I do work with them where I am a House Manager and then I do box office sales with them. They are super cool and we actually met through TAMPON TALK.

Alice: Oh wow. That’s awesome.

Mary: Yeah. So, this is a cool community that comes out of people that I just want to talk about menstruation. So we got connected and then I went to her sketch show and then now, I work with the theater. Like basically every weekend and they are super cool. Here in the area, highly recommend going to the Ruby.

Alice: Yeah. So, what’s your favorite thing about LA so far?

Mary: I’ve always liked cities. I think I like being around a lot of people. It sounds cliche to be like this, but there’s always something to do. But, I think that there’s a lot of people trying to do the same thing and I expected it to be, like almost cut throat if you run into another actor, and that they wouldn’t wanna tell you about what they’re doing in case you tried to do it, but I haven’t really run into that. I’ve run into more of people that are more supportive, which is really cool. I don’t think people expect that.

 Alice: That’s great. Yeah. I wouldn’t expect that about LA.

Mary: Yeah, ’cause it’s a lot of people just trying to do the same thing. I like the liberal-minded people up here, I do. So, it’s a lot of people that are open to a lot of things so I have felt more accepted. I think it’s not as taboo to talk about periods on a podcast or whatever up here because everyone, either has a podcast already or it’s like, not original or that– it’s like, yeah. Of course, we’re gonna talk about periods or of course, we’re gonna talk about, like women and all that other stuff because it’s accepted. So, I think that’s something I’ve really enjoyed with more of the openness of LA.

Alice: That’s great. And have you found your favorite taco place yet?  That’s what I really look for.

Mary:  So, there I’ll have to say is, so Danny Trejo has a lot of different little restaurants that he’s opened after becoming big and successful. So, he has a taco place.

Alice: Wait, I don’t know him. Who’s Danny Trejo?

Mary: He is this amazing actor who’s done a lot of these awesome action movies.  And I think yesterday, he actually saved a baby out of a car that, I think was gonna, I don’t remember the full story but there was a car accident on one of the freeways up here. And the car, it must’ve almost caught fire or something and he literally just was there and jumped in and saved some person’s baby, like a good person.

Alice: So, a taco owner as well?

Mary: Yeah.

Alice: Wow, that is a really good person in my book.

Mary: Yeah. He is.

Alice: I want a taco shop.

Mary: And he has a donut place, coffee place, and a taco place. And his taco place is amazing. I would sort of expect it like if it’s connected with like an actor or whatever, for it to be, you know, that’s like the claim to fame and then the food isn’t great, but the food is amazing.

Alice: Wow.

Mary: And it’s right across from The Grove. So, it’s in the old farmer’s market which is like a really cool but he’s done all these cool movies like, I grew up watching him in Spy Kids.

Alice: Oh, he’s in Spy Kids?

Mary: Yeah. I think he’s not the dad but he’s in the first one.

Alice: Oh, I know exactly who you’re talking about when you said Spy Kids.

Mary: Yeah. But, he’s a really good guy and his tacos are great. The other place I would say and it’s actually in San Diego, is TJ’s Tacos, it’s amazing.

Alice: Oh, where is that?

Mary: So, it’s technically San Diego county. It’s in Escondido but you literally have to go in there or you would have to order in Spanish, I mean that’s a sign that you know it’s good but whenever they asked if I want everything on it, I do my best to make it out alive with my Spanish.  I’m like yeah, throw it all on. It is all good. So, TJ’s Tacos and then Danny Trejo’s taco place is awesome.

Alice: Oh, amazing!

Mary: Yeah.

Alice: Okay. I’m gonna have to check those out. Can you talk about your decision to start your podcast Tampon Talk with Mary? I’d love to hear what brought that about?

Mary: Yeah, it’s funny ’cause I have to– I get to invest in doing it. I’m like, “Oh yeah. When did this happen?” but I think it just started with the fact that I grew up in like a religious environment and to talk about the biology of women or that kind of thing was extremely taboo. When it shouldn’t be because they’re very focused on marriage and children to a certain degree, so it seems like, “Oh, everybody should be comfortable with talking about periods.” I grew up in my high school getting really picked on for period mishaps or whatever and you know, I definitely saw this shift in my relationship with my parents. When that came into my life, oh you know, this kind of innocence was over. Our relationship is different now because this happened to me. So, it’s like this, I’ve been– when you get your period that there’s this shame that comes from it when there shouldn’t be because this is a biologically extremely complex and beautiful thing that’s happening to women every single month that we’re still learning about, that there are still studies coming out about it, that you guys are still doing, studies about learning a lot on that. I think it came about ’cause of bullying and Tina Faye had this really great quote which I think she later brought up because she was talking about mean girls and like that girl bullying environment, but if you make fun of yourself that they can’t make fun of you, because you’ve already done it so I was like, “Oh. Well, if I make fun of my own period mishaps or my mistakes and learn to laugh at myself then they can’t laugh at me.” I think Ryan Seacrest did the same thing, where people would make jokes about him and then he just, accepted them or made the jokes and then everybody stopped.

Alice: Oh, wow.

Mary: Yeah. I think it came from that, of like getting picked on for having a period. Something you can’t really control, and then questioning why we can’t talk about it merely for the comfort of other people when  you’re suffering.

Alice: And I think that’s the amazing thing about your podcast is that you’re opening up the conversation to allow women to have these conversations about this taboo thing. And you do that immediately off the bat with your embarrassing moment, like what’s your story about your period, which I think is amazing that you do on your podcast. Everyone should listen to it.

Mary: And it like– it’s every episode ’cause I’m literally bound to do something stupid every time so, like I have to–  I’m editing an episode now which I’m really excited about but every time something happens, there were three things that happened to me during this last period I had where I was like, “All right. Great. I’m using after the episode.”

Alice: Oh my gosh. You give us all a voice to be able to talk about this. I still get so stressed about it but it’s great that you’re opening up to this world.

Mary: It’s already stressful in itself so to remove that, like the stress of talking about it, if we could start from there, then the comedy can come in.

Alice: And what’s your favorite part about being an actress and also as a podcast producer? You’re being an entrepreneur making your own work. Can you talk about that?

Mary: Yeah, well, it’s hard ’cause I am doing, right now, I’m kind of doing everything. I’m reaching out for the interviews and then arranging the times, recording them, editing them, putting them out, managing it, social media, doing all that and then acting on the side.  But I think the tool that’s been in both Tampon Talk and with acting is empathy, ’cause empathy’s a really good window into someone else’s world if you’re playing a character and Tampon Talk is the same way or it’s like I’m just exploring that, like as me. I’m hearing other people’s stories and giving them a platform. This is already a topic that society doesn’t want us to talk about so, if there’s already a platform available for it, then other people should be able to come on that are more marginalized or more stigmatized and talk about whatever they need to talk about. So, that’s why it’s always like an open invitation for whoever I ran into, it’s like yeah, you know, you haven’t had a platform before, you need to talk about it, we need to talk about it and I’m just here to listen and inquire. So that melds really well into the acting world, where you’re doing the exact same thing, where you’re asking questions about the character, or you’re learning about life and it always kinda comes back to empathy.

Alice: That’s amazing. Yeah, I think that really makes sense. Diving into someone’s life and you’re doing that on a podcast or you’re doing it as a character.

Mary: Yeah, it’s cool ’cause it’s opened up all these relationships I would never have had before. I feel like I use Tampon Talk as an excuse to talk to people.

Alice: That’s amazing. You should.

Mary: Yeah. It’s really cool.

Alice: What do you think has been your favorite part about Tampon Talk?

Mary: It’s all been my favorite but I think figuring out, like the thrill of what’s next, you now. Like what’s the new topic we’re gonna cover within this big topic, like my newest episode– ’cause I’m still editing it but if it comes out Tuesday.

Alice: Oh, awesome.

Mary: It’s a very exciting`– but finding out what’s the new thing to talk about within the period community and recently, it’s been– I was like women in prison, I wanna talk about what do they do and I actually had a woman come on who was in prison, and she talked about what menstrual care was like in jail. And just other people’s experiences. And that led to me to talking to a lawyer who is actually called, the Tampon Lawyer, ’cause she fought a lot of cases in California where they had– there was lack of period products or women were denied period products, or like, churches or other organizations who tried to donate period products and then the prison wouldn’t accept them.  And because they didn’t have their products, some women had to get hysterectomies because they were getting toxic shock because they had to resort to, you know, using toilet paper and it’s all unsanitary, it’s so unjust. You should be treated as a person even though that you’re in jail, and it’s supposed to be about reform and recovery. I don’t see why women should be denied period products when they need them in jail. So, that has been the new spin now. It’s like, now we’re gonna talk about women in prison. I wanna tackle female homelessness soon as well, ’cause that’s really difficult. I talked about it a little bit when the show first started, but I wanna come back to it, now with some more experience than I had before.  Organizations like happy period are tackling just that issue of getting period product access and the tampon tax removed in all 50 states, so that women can access period products when they need them, and it was the lawyer that I talked to who had mentioned that as well, where the market for period products, like bigger brands like Tampax or Kotex use fixed mark ups and women shouldn’t have to pay a luxury tax on something that is a necessity.

Alice: It’s crazy that we have that pink tax.

Mary: Yeah. Women are the majority of consumers and they’re doing most purchasing so why are they paying more on top of the money that they’re already like spending?

Alice: It’s ridiculous.

Mary: Yeah. It’s insane.

Alice: I can’t wait to listen to this episode then on Tuesday.

Mary: Oh, thank you.

Alice: That’s amazing. What do you think has been the most rewarding part about Tampon Talk? I’m sure each episode has its different qualities but what overall has been your favorite part?

Mary: Yeah. That’s definitely true that they have. Oh my gosh. I think the favorite, at least my favorite part, is meeting new people and then how Tampon Talk helps to serve their platform.  You come on and talk about what you need to, and then you know, now that’s a relationship that I have for life. And if new things arise out of someone or a topic, or someone that has come on the show, they’re always invited to come back. We’re following the Essure story about women who are affected by the drug Essure and they have active political reform. It’s the medical safety act that they’re trying to push, it’s a non-partisan bill, so now, Tampon Talk serves as a media format that’s talking about that, but no one is talking about right now.

Alice: Wow.

Mary: And I think it’s the reward of being able to have these people come back when they want to and keep that relationship ’cause these things that we talk about are still happening and they’re still active, so like, as they change being able to say, you know, come back, talk about it. We will just keep blasting it until changed– good change happens. So, it’s a long answer but that’s kind of the–

Alice: No. No, I think that’s really interesting. Being able to get everyone’s voice out there. And in response to that, I’m curious. As a freelancer, since you’re doing all of the work for this, how do you structure your days? ‘Cause you’re an actress, you’re a podcast producer, you’re working at an Improv place. How did you get it all accomplished?

Mary: It’s… I–

Alice: Wonder woman. First of all.

Mary: I don’t know. [laugh] It’s hard ’cause it’s like, yeah, I’m working on the theater, I’m doing acting part-time, I also have another job that I work part-time. Now, student debt is coming into the picture and no one is charged– I don’t make any money on Tampon Talk. It’s merely that, you know, I love doing it so, if it means staying up through the night till I finish an episode, or finishing up questions to send out to people, it’s that I really love doing it and it kinda is my baby, so I wanna do it all the time, but I feel like I need to write, physically write down my day so that I feel more accomplished. Being able to get it done I make sure  to sit down for like 20 minutes and structure the week and say, “Okay. This is a lot to get down but I’m just gonna do it.”

Alice: That’s a great idea.

Mary: Yeah. I really like planners. Very basic Pinterest thing but I really like planners so…

Alice: That’s great.

Mary: Yeah.

Alice: Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. And I know you also, you’re also working at Improv, are you doing Improv as well? And has that helped with Tampon Talk?

Mary: Oh my god. A lot– I mean, it’s normally the nature of an interview, right? You have these set questions and I’m gonna keep coming back to it, but being able to have the foundation of improvisation for Tampon Talk and acting is that you could, you know, work on the fly. I think it is really important so, if they say something really interesting ,and you’re like, “Oh, I wanna hear more about that.” Then, you know, Improv can lead you down the right rabbit hole of, “Oh, this might be more interesting than what I had planned for us to talk about.” Which just happened so much. And that’s why episodes that are supposed to be 30 minutes, end up being an hour and a half or whatever.

Alice: That’s awesome.

Mary: So, it’s like normal dialogue, you know. But Improv has been really foundational for all of that and also just in my daily life. When I’m not planning out what I need to do for the week ’cause I forget something that’s suddenly due, I was like, “Okay, I’m going it right now, think I can do it real quick.” It’s been a really good tool, I’ve been doing it for a long time.

Alice: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen in LA so far? I feel like living in a city you see the weirdest things, I can list too many in New York, where I am.

Mary: I’m trying to think, it was before I was officially living up here, I went to see a premiere of La-La-Land. It was so cool because it was in this really nice theater and it was before the movie officially came out, but it was very magical especially if you’re just coming up to LA for the first time or second time, whatever, to see that movie. I definitely remember coming out of that magical experience, there was a guy standing outside, he was holding a sign and I took a picture of him because I was like this is not real but he was holding a sign that said, “Free vagina massages. Cash or card.” And he was just standing there holding the sign, I was like, “What does that mean?” I mean, I’m not going to ask because it’s probably weird. Do you know when you get this like stencils for letters? It looked like that.

Alice: Yes.

Mary: He painted it like a stencil on a sign and then was standing outside this theater. The producer or the film, some of the actors, whatever, that were there, came out and they were talking to people, so I got to run into the producer and talk to this producer for a hot second, but then I turned and saw this guy just standing there like mug face, no expression, just holding the sign. That was probably the weirdest. Everything else just has been weird also but it’s still, somehow, seems okay. Like, “It’s fine, it’s the city,” but that fact is just still weird. I saw him again at some other thing I went to, he had the same sign of massages then he flipped it over and then it was feet massages on the other side.

Alice: Feet massages, okay. I don’t trust this man, though.

Mary: “Where’re your services? What does this mean?” That was probably the weirdest thing.

Alice: But so bizarre that you saw him twice.

Mary: Yes. I was like I’m not going to see this person again. I thought the sign was so funny that I took a picture and I posted on my Twitter, whatever, then I saw him again. “What is this? My old friend is back.”

Alice: It must be kind of crazy. You’re in California, it’s always summertime there, it’s still summer but you’re heading into the fall for the first time not going to school, how does that feel? Do you have any like fall traditions? I know it’s not a typical fall.

Mary: It’s weird because I’m not in school. Because normally in September was when I’d go back to the East Coast and I’d visit my family a little bit before going back to school, but they’re coming out here this time, so that’s exciting. I guess the tradition the past three years has been going back to Maryland and really experiencing the fall. It was funny, I actually met a friend out here named Sam at my university but we both grew up in Maryland and just never crossed paths with each other, but every time we would go back home in September, we would get together, he lives right across from Mount Vernon and just to be able to experience that in the fall is so beautiful. I think that the East Coast has a beautiful fall, the west coast, in my experience, is just more summer which is fine. Sometimes I want some leaves to change.

Alice: I could do without it. I miss my California weather.

Mary: Yeah, you’re in New York, even in the summer, it’s super windy and hot!

Alice: It’s just really hot here. I turned off the air conditioner in my apartment to do this and I’m getting really hot. I don’t want it to be so loud.

Mary: Oh God, I’m so sorry.

Alice: That’s okay, this is great. I want to talk to you, you are like a feminist icon right now. You tell like it is, you get your voice out there, you give other women a platform, you give men a platform to speak about women’s issues and rights. Can you talk about what you think it means to be a woman today?

Mary: Yes. What a question.

Alice: It’s the definition that’s forever changing, and it changes every day of one’s life, but for you what is it today?

Mary: I think what it has always come back to for me is that in the Merriam-Webster definition of, say feminism, is the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. If you believe all of those three things that you should be equal and, at the very least, those three categories, you’re a feminist. That sounds fine by me, and that should be fine by a lot of people.

Alice: By everyone.

Mary: Right. That has been a good starting point for talking about women’s rights and feminism, and expanding upon that to include the marginalized and minorities, because I certainly cannot speak to the experience of someone that is a different race than me or someone that has come from a different background than me. Feminism allows us to give them the platform that they need to talk about what society has not allowed them to talk about. For me it’s to sit and listen, I think it is very important and people do not do enough of it. These people haven’t had a voice for a long time. It’s not in my place to speak for them; they can definitely speak for themselves. I shouldn’t have a perception of what I think a community needs, I should listen and know what they need. I think that being a woman in this world today also means you’re going to listen to either other women or other marginalized people. Something we talked about very early on in Tampon Talk was the conversation around periods and the trans community, what does someone who doesn’t believe that they belong in the body that they’re biologically put in, like what do they do with the period, how do trans men deal with that? They should be included within that community of talking about that because there are certain sects of feminism which only focus on bringing it back or being a woman in your biological functions where we only care about women that are born women or whatever it is. Feminism is far more inclusive than that. That’s why like I love the Ruby because feminism expands to LGBTQ, it expands to men that just want to be more empathetic about a woman situation, and it just expands to people that have been marginalized. I think being a feminist is being an activist, and being a humanitarian. Like I said, people don’t really understand that being a woman in this world today means that you should both raise your voice because you have been marginalized and that we still live in a society that still upholds sexist values. The MeToo movement has been pivotal talking about women, feminism and equality, because it’s bringing forward the imbalance of power that existed for a very long time. John Oliver did a report about Monica Lewinsky.

Alice: I saw that.

Mary: So good. It was about how society responded by taking down what 21, 22-year-old Monica instead of the President of the United States, and that there is a clear like imbalance of power there.

Alice: And that we’re still having that same problem today.

Mary: Yes. We think that victims have an ulterior motive besides just saying what happened to them. Like people that came forward against Bill Cosby, or whatever, do people remember the names of all the women that came forward against Bill Cosby? No, they don’t. Bill Cosby’s fine, if you are an adult you have to take the consequences. People don’t remember those women’s names, they’re not trying to get famous, they’re not trying to get money, “I just literally need to talk about what happened to me,” The Kavanaugh hearings talked about that right where it’s like, “We thought that this woman had some ulterior motive as well,” but it’s like, “Her experience should be validated and not politicized,” which is how that whole deal, on both sides of the aisle, is that you took a woman’s experience of what happened to her and it was used as a political device when it’s trauma that happened to someone.

Alice: That’s a big question for your podcast, too, you’re talking about the specific women’s experience of bleeding, of menstruation. Have you had any experiences running up against you, because of this topic, because it’s taboo or what have you?

Mary: Absolutely. Just thinking about it, in general, we don’t really want to talk about women, in my opinion. I still think there’s a kind of war on women in general where we don’t want to talk about equal pay, like MeToo isn’t there where we don’t want to talk about their trauma or their pains and their problems, and then further we don’t want to talk about menstruation because it’s icky, gross or inconvenient. There have been numerous challenges of trying to get people to listen to the show because they need the perspective. I launched Tampon Talk and within my religious community that still doesn’t want to talk about periods, they should, there’s nothing in the religious community that says they should not, but they should talk about it. They’re not contradicting their higher power by talking about periods. If you look at it maybe that the higher power gave periods, you have to look at it in that way so you should understand it.  The challenge has been, first, getting people to listen to it to say, “You’re not going have this conversation in your daily life with somebody because of ignorance or whatever. So listening to it first. And the fact that it’s using comedy as an educational tool almost, basically putting the vegetables under the chicken nuggets, is that this is something we all can talk about. I think it’s very elevated in a sense using the comedy so that we can talk about it. If we’re all laughing about it, kind of picking on ourselves, that it’s like “What’s the big deal?” And it’s okay to talk about it. It’s getting people to listen to it, further the different types of guests we’re bringing on and the different topics that we’re talking about, and getting them to listen to a different perspective. It’s like this first layer of talking about periods in general, then maybe the next layer is Essure, or the next layer is women in prison, or it’s female homelessness. Once you get them with the first hook of “I can listen to this comedy podcast talking about periods,” then maybe I can dig a little deeper and see some other points of view.

Alice: That’s great, Mary. I’m just curious. For our viewers and listeners, what are some concrete ways or what’s the best tip you would give someone if they wanted to fight for gender equality? You do it with your podcast, and probably in a million other ways but, what’s the tip?

Mary: It’s an existing issue that existed since the dawn of time, there has always been gender inequality. The first thing is to bring awareness that it’s happening. I think the biggest tip is to be aware that it’s happening, what it looks like, and is it affecting people and not affecting you to sort of get the perspective of, “Am I in the marginalized community or not?” So starting there. And then being able to step up and acknowledge that this is happening to then put an end to it. It’s awareness and education. I think to decrease and then eventually completely eradicate gender inequality, which I think people don’t really want to deal with, because if you say that a problem doesn’t exist, then you’re not going to deal with it and it just doesn’t exist. That’s why acknowledging it is the first step, to say this is a problem we can’t deny it and then further to educate people on why it’s a problem and how to end it. The first tip is to bring awareness that it’s happening.

Alice: Everyone needs to listen to Mary’s podcast, Tampon Talk with Mary.

Mary: There are plenty of other period podcasts as well doing the same thing. Like Steph has her podcast, That’s my story period, which is amazing. Hers serves as storytelling, so that’s really getting someone else’s perspective. She’s doing an amazing job of talking about periods. We need to bring these people to the forefront, and they need to acknowledge problems that have been affecting them, so that we could be aware that there’s a problem. I’m sure that when you guys are talking about Jubilance and dealing with PMS, there’s a whole rigmarole of things you got to deal with that because maybe the markets don’t want to talk about PMS or they don’t acknowledge that there’s a problem at all.

Alice: Most doctors just hand out Midol or Ibuprofen, “good luck.” But that doesn’t help with the emotional side of PMS, that’s why we’re here.

Mary: Yes. We’re irrational about asking for help. That wouldn’t happen in any other scenario, but for some reason, with this specific biological function that happens to women all the time, is that people assume maybe they’re just not in as much pain as they think that they are.

Alice: “Maybe you should just take some Tylenol, good luck.”

Mary: “Tylenol and a nap, and not medical attention.”

Alice: “Yes, I think that’ll help you.”  If men experienced menstruation there would be so many more things for it already.

Mary: Without a doubt.

Alice: It’s crazy.

Mary: We were having the discussion a few years ago about women serving on the frontlines. I was like, “Are you aware of what women deal with on a regular basis? I feel like they’ll be fine.”

Alice: Yes, probably.

Mary: Like, “They got it, I’m sure.”

Alice: And I just want to close out with just a couple of fun questions, Mary. What is your best book to read on a plane, on a train, at the beach?

Mary: Because it’s my favorite book, 1984, by George Orwell. It’s like my favorite book ever.

Alice: I just read that last month for the first time. It’s great.

Mary: It’s so good.

Alice: And horrifying.

Mary: I don’t want to be like spoiler alert for a very old book, but the ending, you’re just kind of left there like, “What? What do I do with this?”

Alice: “How can I continue living my life after I’ve read this book?”

Mary: It was funny because actually I read the book when the 2016 presidential debates were happening.

Alice: It’s crazy how relevant that book is at any era in our history, it’s just so fascinating.

Mary: George Orwell is a genius. Animal Farm is another great book, but that’s the one that I’ll always come back to coz that is really good.

Alice: That’s great. When did you first start your period?

Mary: I can talk about it, it is always time to talk about periods. I had gotten the sex talk in school in fifth grade and then I think a week later. It was probably fifth grade and then a few weeks later we had like a dance, I went out with friends or something, and I woke up to my period so I was probably like 12, I think, which I think it’s pretty normal.

Alice: That’s young. I guess that’s normal now, kids are getting younger and younger.

Mary: Yes, I guess so. I remember thinking that 15, 16, was kind of on the older end of getting your period, 11 to 13 seems like the right spot because that’s middle school.

Alice: I guess that’s true.

Mary: And I was on the older side of my class so I definitely got it before everybody. I woke up from a sleepover, and bled through the night. I got it on my friend Tara’s carpet…

Alice: Oh no!

Mary: I was like “oh God”. I got blood on her carpet, I woke up before her, and I was like, “Oh God.” She was still asleep and I just texted my mom, “I need you to come get me right now.” I’m going down the stairs just try to sneak out the front door, she didn’t even wake up, and her mom was like, “Do you want breakfast before you leave?” And I was like, “I have to go.” so I ran out the door. That was it, that was the first time. I love Tara, she’s so great. That’s a bond you got to keep for life. If you bleed on a friend’s carpet you better be friends.

Alice: Oh my gosh. Is there anything else you’d like to add?  We know Tuesday your podcast is coming out so we’ll all look for that.

Mary: Yes. This Tuesday, it’ll probably be eleven Pacific Standard Time so come out in the afternoon, that’ll be available on iTunes, Spotify, Player FM, wherever podcaster stream, I’m pretty much on all of it. If I’m not I usually ask people to let me know and then I try to figure out how to get it on there. It’s on YouTube also, you know how you go to YouTube for your podcast? But it’s there if you want to listen to it.

Alice: That’s perfect. You’re also going to be featured in our newsletter this month so I want you to check that out, we’ll have this video continuing to play throughout the month so everyone will see it. 

Mary: That will be super cool. It’s always an open invitation if somebody is like, “I have this crazy, embarrassing period story that I have to tell Mary about.” Tell me about it on my socials, whatever you like, it’s an open invitation, I want to hear about your period or even if it’s not your period, if it’s just you’re a guy and you’ve had an embarrassing puberty story. Hit me with that, I want to hear all of it. Whatever they want.

Alice: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for coming on, Mary. It’s so lovely to see you thank you.

Mary: Thank you for having me, this was so nice.

Alice: Please keep me updated on what you’re up to. I can’t wait to hear about all your amazing acting and your podcast that’s out on Tuesday so, thank you.

Mary: Yeah. Of course. Thank you.

Alice: Bye.

Mary: Bye! I’ll see you.

About the author

Alice Cash is the Marketing Manager for Jubilance by day and an award winning Theatre Director by night.  Leading the podcast Weekly Woman, she loves her candid conversations with women from all over the world about how they live and the amazing things they are doing to make a difference. Alice is also the editor of the bi-monthly newsletter the Jubilee, a blog dedicated to the power of female wellness especially concerning menstruation.  She’s worked in France creating theatre pieces and taught drama and filmmaking to women and children in Haiti.  She graduated from Georgetown University and holds two master degrees from NYU and The New School.  Alice has traveled to  40+ countries, including Tibet.  She is a New Yorker and can often be found in Central Park, searching out the best bubble tea, or directing a play, you never know where she’ll show up. @alicesadventuresinwonderworld
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