‘It’s Bloody Serious’: Swedish Armed Forces Launch Free Period Products for Conscripts

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by Igor Kuznetsov

While the goal of the campaign is to present the military as an open and inclusive workplace, it also raised eyebrows over what is seen as identity politics.

In a new feminist campaign on social media, the Swedish Armed Forces have informed that free period products are being distributed to conscripts as part of their equipment.

The purpose of the campaign, according to the military, is to “show the target group of women aged 15 to 23 that the military is a modern workplace where everyone should have the same conditions to solve their tasks”.

“It’s bloody serious”, the slogan of the campaign available on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat reads.

In the same way that different environments, tasks, or weather demand solutions of their own, neither should menstruation “be an obstacle to the soldiers’ combat value”, the Swedish Armed Forces explained.

“This is a good way to tell the target group about one of the many things that are being done to provide better conditions for women in the Armed Forces. This is only a small part of a larger project to achieve an equal supply of equipment. It is basically a matter of everyone, regardless of gender, having the same conditions to act to the best of their best ability”, the Swedish Armed Forces PR manager Johan Landeström explained.

The military’s goal is to employ more women, and the idea is that by 2025 30 percent of conscripts will be female.

Minister for Gender Equality Åsa Lindhagen of the Green Party praised the Armed Forces’ recent investment.

“I believe this is an extremely positive decision. I think this makes it easier, of course, for conscripts and employees who menstruate. Then this decision also sends a very clear signal that women are an obvious part of the Armed Forces”, Lindhagen said.

On social media, though, the reactions were more divided, ranging from scepticism to obvious sarcasm.

“It’s great that the military is trying to pave the way for more women with free menstrual protection for conscripts, but I don’t think the lack of tampons is the biggest problem”, one user argued.

Jätteschysst att FM försöker bana vägen för fler kvinnor i militären med gratis mensskydd för värnpliktiga men jag tror inte avsaknaden av tamponger är den största pucken.

— Emma (@monkeyontellus) January 25, 2021

“I assume that the Armed Forces have already had free period products for twenty years or so and that this is just a way of trying to get some traction from idiots on social media?”, another one chimed in.

Jag utgår ifrån att försvarsmakten redan har gratis mensskydd sedan tjugo år tillbaka och att detta bara är ett sätt att försöka få lite draghjälp från idioter på sociala medier? https://t.co/IYVJ7WE26n

— Hkan (@Hkan) January 25, 2021

“Of course, identity policy demands that the Armed Forces buy sanitary napkins instead of bullets and gunpowder, plus sanitary napkins work just as well for men!”, another one wrote wryly.

Klart att idenetitetspolitiska krav ställer att Försvaret köper bindor istället för kulor och krut, och bindor fungerar ju lika bra för män! https://t.co/SDRYqVdmoK

— Mot vals (@Benefactom) January 25, 2021

​”Now the Russians have no chance”, another one joked, evoking the Armed Forces persistent rhetoric about an “assertive Russia” that has been used as a pretext for defence build-ups.

https://t.co/3tlJQeDDQY
Nu har Ryssen inte chans… #svpol

— Niklas 🇩🇰🇸🇪🇹🇼 (@Niklasj93) January 25, 2021

​In recent years, the Swedish military has launched a number of polarising initiatives, originally aimed at boosting cohesion and emphasising equality, but ended up being slammed for playing identity politics. These include the pro-LGBT campaign “We don’t always march straight” and the pro-diversity push “Our strength consists of differences”.

WE DON’T ALWAYS MARCH STRAIGHT. Men oavsett när eller var vi marscherar står vi alltid upp för din rätt att leva som du vill, med den du vill. Läs mer: https://t.co/bSBtWpUIjK #svfm #EuroPride pic.twitter.com/cMRH4vctRG

— Försvarsmakten (@Forsvarsmakten) July 30, 2018

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