A Brown University program fashioned to provide both male and female students with free feminine hygiene products has become a bit of a problem after students complained the tampon company Brown selected was “culturally approriating” from Native Americans.
According to The Brown Daily Herald, students were in a heated argument over whether the “Tampon Tribe” should be their leading provider of in-restroom tampons because the company, which provides “sustainably sourced” “organic” “toxin free” “recyclable” tampons to the Brown community, shares its name with the traditional moniker for groupings of Native American sub-civilizations across the country.
Tampon Tribe lists on their website:
Welcome To Tampon Tribe
100% certified organic cotton tampons, pads and pantyliners.
Delivered to your door each month. And you choose what goes into each bag. Because everyone is different.
Our ingredients? No toxins, chemicals, dyes or chlorine bleaches. Just organic cotton. And we’re plastic free. So you save your body and the earth. Awesome. Welcome to Your Tribe.
The Undergraduate Council of Students heard complaints from “indigenous and Native American [students]” who claimed the company’s name — and some of its branding — “affected them really deeply.” The USC then voted to change tampon suppliers.
Tampon Tribe, for the record, does not appear to use any Native American imagery in its branding, but does seem to feature a lot of Millennial-aged white women dressed in faux-bohemian attire giving the peace sign in the company’s Instagram photos, so perhaps that’s what’s triggering.
The contention has been brewing since last year, when Brown switched to Tampon Tribe from its previous hygiene product provider, Boxed. Students had concerns, initially, but the UCS reached out to a Tampon Tribe representative who assured the group that there were “Afro-diasporic and indigenous identities” among their upper management.
Tampon Tribe wasn’t willing to give Brown a refund, however. So student concerns will end up costing the university money. Since some shipments were already on their way, the UCS will distribute Tampon Tribe tampons to the student body, but likely with some word of caution concerning the brand’s cultural appropriation.
It should be noted that it was not immediately clear whether the University Council of Students had any more important topics to consider.
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