Why Tampons are not Welcome in Taiwan: A Social-worlds Analysis

Author Info
Pei-hsin Hsu; Ling-fang Cheng (corresponding Author)
Lecturer, Tung fang Institute of Technology; Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of Gender Studies, Kaohsiung Medical University

This study explores how the tampon as an imported menstrual technology interacted with the indigenous society and culture as well as the body experience of the women users since 1970 up till now. We adopted the analytical framework of ‘social worlds’ as in the context of symbolic interactionism to illuminate the contestation and negotiation of various kinds of forces and actors which are friendlier than that of the tampons. The social forces and actors discussed in the study are: the previous habits of dealing with menstruation, menstrual cultures, the importance of keeping hymen untouched, the embodied experience of using menstrual products, legal regulations treating the tampon as medical material, the marketing DM failing to provide appropriate information for local women, insufficient cleaning facility in the public toilets. Even the gynecologists who claim to hold the scientific ‘truth’ were influenced by the various unfriendly forces in the ‘social worlds’ and provided some dated information of the tampon and gave the support to the control of women’s body. As a result, it estimated that only less than 2.1% of women used the tampon in Taiwan, whereas 81%(29% were single users, and 52% use both tampons and sanitary napkins)in the west. As we have studied the various forces in the social worlds which contributed to the construction of the unpopularity of tampon in Taiwan, at the same time, we find the ways of broadening our understanding of menstrual products and the embodied experience of users, and also ways of taking actions to change the current situation.


Taiwanese Journal for Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine, Number 10 (April 2010)