Our approach to: Menstruation

Our approach to: Menstruation

Welcome to this instalment of our blog posts about Mimbre’s approach to various subjects across outdoor arts, circus and running a company. We’re publishing our Executive Director Lissy Lovett’s summary of the presentation she made at the ITC Members Forum Dignity at Work Forum: Menstruation & Menopause. We’re sharing the resources that were discussed too so that they go beyond the group that was there.

We’re not saying we have the answers, and Lissy reflected that she felt a bit of a fraud talking about this as “we’re not doing anything that seems out of the ordinary to us – but maybe it’s useful to share even that, the basics we do anyway”.

About Mimbre and menstruation (note the alliteration)

1, We’re a female-led team, so we have maybe more experience than mixed teams of menstruation and related things:
+ We have one person who we work closely with who has endometriosis
+ We don’t yet have much experience of menopause (knowingly) but that’s surely only a matter of time
+ We work with people with varying levels of period pain and emotional responses to hormone levels.

2, We treat it like we would anything else, eg:
+ Illness: colds, Covid-19
+ Mental health
+ Injury (particularly relevant for acrobats)
+ Caring responsibilities

3, We allow everyone to work as flexibly as their job allows, eg:
+ Varying start and finish times
+ Working from home as much as they want
+ Working within ourselves – if there’s a show, there’s a show, but we’ll vary training intensity to work around where people are at that day)
+ Everyone including freelancers gets sick pay

4, It’s worth noting that our culture is typically open about what’s going on with people but that isn’t required, saying “I’m going to start later today because I need to” is completely fine.

5, Practical things:
+ We typically have sanitary pads, tampons and painkillers in the office and on tour
+ For the Dior commissioned Dream Parade we even had black sanitary pads – a thing I did not know existed!

Resources shared by ITC:

+ menopausemandate.com
+ LSE blog: bit.ly/3aLwa0k
+ Bectu Welfare Policy (Film & TV): bit.ly/3MFTZnu
+ Perimenopause Power: Navigating Your Hormones on the Journey to Menopause by Maisie Hill
+ Period Power: Harness Your Hormones and Get Your Cycle Working For You by Maisie Hill
+ Creating A Menopause Friendly Workplace: Employer’s Resource (Equity): https://bit.ly/44NUTYF
+ Two Davina McCall documentaries:
Sex Mind and the Menopause on https://www.channel4.com/programmes/davina-mccall-sex-mind-and-the-menopause
Sex Myths and the Menopause on https://www.channel4.com/programmes/davina-mccall-sex-myths-and-the-menopause

Some useful thoughts from the rest of the session:

These are good to take with you to consider when working on your projects or in your teams:

+ The importance of being trans-inclusive!
+ The blurred lines between things that are fairly ‘normal’ and when you are actually sick (eg. endometriosis)
+ The difference between the practical steps you can take now, and how we change the culture – making it ok to walk to the loo with a tampon for instance (which is something that is already totally fine for us at Mimbre!)
+ The stigma that is still associated with these things – especially the menopause, and how that’s related to the lack of older women in the performance industry generally
+ How there are sustainable options for period care – but that sometimes they’re not possible (emptying a mooncup in a festival portaloo is no fun at all)
+ How the stigma associated with periods can also intersect with the discrimination that black people face, making it harder for people of colour to speak truthfully about their period symptoms and mental health – if they are even asked!

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