Social Justice

These period poverty campaigners want to make you angry

Period poverty mean up to a third of 14 to 21-year-olds couldn't afford the products they needed during lockdown

The period poverty film is based on neurological evidence of anger as a driver for change.

The period poverty film is based on neurological evidence of anger as a driver for change. Image: Hey Girls

Period poverty activists have joined forces with a leading scientist to motivate people into taking action on period poverty hoping to use the power of anger to get things done.

The #SeeingRed campaign uses “psychological tactics” which tests show can make people four times angrier than they were after people were forced to use materials such as newspaper as alternatives in lockdown.

Despite a period poverty surge during lockdown which left nearly a third of 14 to 21-year-olds unable to afford period products, many people do not feel “inherently connected” to the issue according to Celia Hodson, CEO of social enterprise Hey Girls.

“It is something we should be angry about,” she added. “Poverty is happening on our streets and is something each individual can help to change.”

Hey Girls – backed by Big Issue Invest – operates a buy-one-give-one model, meaning for every high-quality, sustainable period product bought through the organisation is matched with a donation to a charity or community hub for disadvantaged people. The organisation wants people to help them get free period products to the people who need them as well as calling on the Government to stamp out period poverty for good.

The #SeeingRed campaign and specially-created video – launched with the help of Dr Philip Gable, associate professor of psychological and brain science –  is based on scientific evidence that anger is a major motivator in people who set out to make change.

It uses a jarring soundtrack, dizzying colour and visuals plus depictions of “violations” and shame.

“Most of us commonly view anger as being a negative emotion, but it’s what’s actually known as an approach-motivated emotion,” said Gable, who has been investigating the emotions which motivate us for 15 years. 

“There is neurological evidence that feeling angry can motivate people to correct the thing they are angry about and take positive action, when presented an easy or obvious solution.”

“When the team at Hey Girls came to me, we quite quickly realised that channelling anger was the best motivator to create conversation and, ultimately, drive positive change around period poverty.”  

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The new film was tested against a sample group of 400 adults, whose emotions were recorded before and after viewing the video. Women were up to four times angrier about period poverty than they were before seeing the film and men three times angrier.  

“We hope #SeeingRed will put a bloody spotlight on the unjust realities of period poverty and encourage those who watch it to pay attention to the issue and then motivate them to do something about it,” Hodson added.

“We want to show people how a simple switch in behaviour or small action, such as opting for one of Hey Girls’ period products, can directly support people in most need.” 

The social enterprise will launch an advertising campaign alongside the film which showcases anonymous quotes about period poverty found from real people on social media, including “all these girls pleading poverty will have phones in their pockets” and “period poverty is insulting nonsense, stealing again from hard working taxpayers”.

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