Homelessness affects 11 percent of Illinois' population, posing a myriad of obstacles, dangers, and detrimental effects to mental and physical health. For those in the area who are living through homeless while menstruating, the challenges become even more difficult as they are unable to access the sanitary products they need each month.
Carbondale DIY show house Taco Stand is hosting a rock show Saturday to provide pads, tampons and other sanitary menstrual products to homeless women.
Heather Hammers, Jennifer Davolt and Katie Bredekamp will perform, along with Cherry and the Pit; art by Kyrie Dial, Bianca Hazen, Shyanne Jasper and Courtney Rudloff will also be on display.
The show takes place at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Carbondale show house Taco Stand. Entry to the event is a $5 donation, or a new, unopened, box of tampons, pads, menstrual cups or other menstrual product.
Directions can be found by contacting the event page on Facebook at facebook.com/events/548247415632751/.
"Tampons and pads are some of the least donated things to shelters," says event organizer Bianca Hazen, explaining the impetus behind the benefit's creation. "Having a period sucks enough as is, why does it have to be so much harder for some?"
Across the country, the average cost of a box of tampons is $7.62, leaving homeless people with periods forced to choose between food and health. Unable to access the sanitary products necessary each month, the risks of toxic shock syndrome and other infections rises. Forced to make such compromising decisions translates into a matter of health, and can even mean a difference between life and death, organizers say.
"Periods aren't optional," says Kate Hughes, one of the local area femme rockers coming together to play the show, which organizers call "Plug the Pussy."
"(People) all over the world should have access to sanitary care products, no matter their financial situation," Hughes says. Performing under her stage name, Cherry and the Pit, Hughes says that getting involved with the benefit was a natural fit.
"I knew Bianca through several Girls Rock Carbondale events, namely Rock Roulette and Girls Rock Carbondale summer camp," Hughes says. "I had talked to Bianca about it and asked if I could be a part of it ... a big part of my music aims to empower women." She says the event is important to her because it's a benefit that is geared toward empowerment.
"I wanted to showcase strong women/femmes, because in the times that we're living in, all of our voices need to be heard," Hazen says about the event's formation. "There are so many homeless people, and so many homeless women. It's hard, not being able to take care of yourself ... Women are dying and getting sick daily, because they don't have access to sanitary options. This is crazy. We just want people to understand what half of the population deals with every month.”
Hazen says the idea came when she saw a video about homeless women, which opened her eyes.
“Donating tampons was something I had literally never thought of, but it’s so important,” she says.
Hazen credits the Carbondale music scene as well as her husband — and local musician — Greg Cashman, for her ability to spearhead the benefit show.
“Honestly, it was really easy," she says. "With Greg being so involved in the community, and all of my friends being musicians ... Taco Stand is always willing to do a show.”