A Scottish council has been accused of “mansplaining menstruation” after appointing a man as its first-ever “period dignity officer”.
SNP-led Dundee City Council was criticised by party leader Ian Blackford, who said it would be “far better” if women occupied such roles, while Baroness Fox also accused the Scottish Government of “peak gender idiocy”.
Former world number one tennis player Martina Navratilova hit out at the “ridiculous” appointment, with others describing it as “institutionalised mansplaining”.
The backlash came on the same day the country’s flagship law offering free period products was launched.
The newly appointed period dignity officer, Jason Grant, said he was eager to make sure people “of any gender” were aware of the availability of period products.
Speaking to the Dundee Courier, the former personal trainer said: “I’m absolutely buzzing about it. It’s definitely pioneering as Scotland is the first to do this. It’s about making people aware of the availability of period products for anyone of any gender, whenever they need it.
“And it’s important whatever we do is done with dignity, so people know that there’s no judgement.”
Mr Grant’s role in the Tay Cities region will include promoting access to free sanitary products across schools and colleges - where he will also discuss issues around the menopause.
Author Susan Dalgety said: “[I] Wonder if he’s ever experienced the horror of a blood-stained dress in public, or the gut-wrenching fear of a missed period? No, didn’t think so.”
She added: “It’s about making ‘anyone of any gender’ aware of period products, he says.
“Jason, I have news for you, only females menstruate.
“Any more questions? PMS? Endometriosis?
“I don’t disagree that boys should be taught more about menstruation, but appointing a bloke as the first period dignity officer is institutionalised mansplaining.”
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Blackford also gave his views on the matter and appeared to criticise the appointment made by the SNP-run council.
He said: “I think it is important that we do have officers in place to ensure that women are supported as much as they should be.
“I think it is important we get the policy right, that we implement it, and that as a principle it would be far better that women are in these posts rather than anyone else.”
Ms Navratilova branded the appointment “f------ ridiculous”.
And this is just fucking ridiculous… https://t.co/xk4kkfKv23
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) August 15, 2022
Baroness Fox was also heavily criticial of the “idiotic” appointment.
The independent politician said: “When the Welsh [governments] period campaign addressed people who bleed & failed to mention women/girls, we thought it = peek gender idiocy. But oh no, hold my beer, Scottish gov here to ramp up indignity.”
The Scottish government’s introduction of the Period Products Act means councils and education providers are now legally obliged to offer tampons and pads for free in a response to a period poverty campaign.
Mr Grant’s role is advertised online in a joint partnership between Dundee and Angus College and Dundee City Council.
The role has a salary of between £33,153 and £36,126 a year on a fixed-term contract running into 2024. It is expected other roles of this kind will be set up elsewhere.
A spokesperson for the Period Dignity Working Group, which comprises Dundee and Angus College, Angus Council, Dundee City Council and Perth College, said the new role was intended to “promote and implement new legislation”.
They added: “With all partners in the working group equal opportunities employers, Jason was the strongest candidate.
“By changing the culture, encouraging debate and removing the stigma around periods, we look forward to supporting the delivery of this important work across the region.”
Since Monday, when the Period Products Act came into force, councils and education providers in Scotland will be legally required to ensure free sanitary products are available to anyone who needs them.
The legislation, which was originally proposed by Labour MSP Monica Lennon, was unanimously approved by the Scottish Parliament back in 2020.