How much do we know about the historic relationship between the corporations that develop menstrual technologies and those who buy them? This article adds to the literature on users of gendered technology and feminist approaches by examining consumers’ role in Unilever’s new “superabsorbent” tampon in 1970s Britain. Investigating the creation of the absorbent material Lyogel, Unilever’s menstrual data collection, and the accompanying “7-Day War” marketing campaign, I demonstrate the link between technology, corporation, and consumer. Anonymous consumers gave Unilever information about their menstrual habits. This market research is repurposed to examine the lived experience of menstruation and consumers’ knowledge of menstrual technologies in times when talking about this topic was taboo.
The author would like to thank the Unilever Archives, Liverpool, and the audience at the 2019 Society for Menstrual Cycle Research conference for their questions, especially from Professor Sharra Vostral. Sincere thanks to Dr. Catherine Spencer, Dr. Jesse Olszynko-Gryn and Professor Geoffrey Jones and warm thanks to editors Ruth Oldenziel and Hermione Giffard and reviewers for generous feedback and support. This research was supported by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship
- critical menstrual studies
- Feminist Science and Technology Studies
- Feminist Business History