If I’m being honest, I’ve never participated in Rock the Community before. Don’t get me wrong, I always wanted to—I remember reading about it on the Campus Traditions page of the SR website. It makes sense, then, that I scheduled my whole freshman year RTC Friday around its events. Too bad it got rained out and was never rescheduled.
I guess this discouraged me or something, because sophomore year, I didn’t even sign up. I expected my lapse in volunteer work to continue through 2020 due to the difficulties presented by the global pandemic, so imagine my surprise when I received an email entitled, “IN PERSON ROCK THE COMMUNITY OPPORTUNITIES.”
I immediately opened the message to find none other than Periods in Plastic. As a person with a vagina who endured Lutheran sex-ed smack dab in the middle of Texas, of course I was intrigued.
I figured the rest of the student body would be too, so Ellie Rostan and I emailed Lisa Donahue as fast as we could to reserve our spots. Upon my arrival to the Blodgett porch only a week later, I was shocked to see we were the only two.
Your Rockers missed out. Helen Cohen, first-year, rad as hell, and also my mother’s college roommate’s coworker’s child (small world, eh?) is in the process of achieving her Gold Award, a Girl Scout pin given to those who take immense direct action in improving their community. Helen’s project involves the distribution of free menstrual cups to menstruating people in need and following education on the subject. This is where Ellie and I came in.
Before us was a mountain of plastic two liter soda bottles. From these we were to create beautiful clear fake vaginas so that Helen and her assistants could educate new users on how to insert their environmentally friendly cups.
The first step was to wash out the bottles and remove their labels, which was easier said than done. Apparently, Big Y uses a special material to mark their bottles which comes off in two layers: a clear topcoat and filmy text. Then came the glue removal, which was so difficult we decided to skip it altogether and move onto the next step: cutting the bottles.
Had we been allowed boxcutters, this would have been quite possibly the easiest part of the process, but they were unfortunately prohibited by one Dolliver RD, Valerie Fanarjian. Instead we were left to our own devices, scissors. After many a screech of frustration or possible injury, Lisa Donahue, Crosby RD, developed a “pinch” technique, where we pinched the plastic to create a surface for scissor insertion and were on our way.
After effectively decapitating the two liters, we were left with large plastic tubes which needed to be small plastic tubes. To do so, we cut the tubes down the middle, then measured them around a CVS ibuprofen tube, which apparently is the diameter of the vaginal canal (you learn something new everyday).
After this, we hot glued the tubes to the appropriate width. This proved far more difficult than anyone anticipated, as we are idiots who couldn’t foresee the inevitable warping of a low melting plastic in contact with a high temperature adhesive. Nonetheless, we managed to create nine perfect(ish) plastic vaginas.
While I had a ton of fun screaming, “Oh no! My vagina!” every time my bottle slipped out of my hand, I think the best thing I gained from this experience was the simplicity of the act. I spent forty-five minutes glueing sheets of plastic to themselves, and in doing so enabled young ladies across the nation to teach vagina-owners about more sustainable periods. I am so glad I finally managed to Rock the Community, and I can’t wait to see what our creative student body comes up with next year.
Elise Kelly is a junior at Simon's Rock and The Weekly Cad's President and Director of Creative Publications.