Do you already know the “Pinky Gloves”?
The most innovative invention of the 21st century — not. It is supposed to help women to dispose of their period articles “hygienically”. But this product caused a huge shitstorm.
On the 12th of April, these two men (picture above) presented their product to the German television on the channel Vox. Vox has a series called “Höhle der Löwen” where Start-Up businesses can present their products. Five popular investors sit there, listening, and one of them, Ralf Dümmel, invested 30.000(!) Euros in it. But why did it cause such a huge shitstorm? What makes it so problematic to most people?
What are these “Pinky Gloves”?
This is the packaging. Depending on how many gloves you want, you can choose either 48 pieces or 96 pieces. In it, there are only pink disposable gloves, therefore, you can only use them once. Their website describes their product like this: “Whether in someone else’s household, at festivals or while traveling — what do you do if there is no trash can in the local toilet for the proper disposal of tampons and pads? The solution: remove it with Pinky, roll it up and dispose of the small, opaque package in the nearest trash can.”
On their website, it is explained how to use them: “Put on one of the twelve individually packaged disposable gloves, pull it inside out with a tampon, pads or panty liner, roll it up and seal it with the adhesive tape — this way, the opaque package can be stuck in odor-proof and leak-proof and discreetly disposed of in the nearest garbage can. Disposal in the rubbish bin instead of the toilet also ensures more environmentally friendly cleaning in waterworks and reduces the risk of a clogged toilet.”
André and Eugen, the inventors, lived in a flatshare with women and noticed “disturbing” period articles in the bathroom. Because when living with women, there is a high chance of having to take a look in the bathroom bin. This is when the idea of “Pinky Gloves” began.
Mansplaining is “the explanation of something by a man, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.” (source: Oxford Languages). Even though the founders state that women participated in this product, most females feel left behind. Most women don’t even see the need for this product, and only see it as sexist, stigmatization of the period, period shaming, and more. Especially during the show, the period was not directly addressed, it was portrayed as an “obnoxious, all-day problem sometimes”. After the shitstorm, Ralf Dümmel admitted that he “did not pay the necessary attention to it.”
To the fact, that most people were upset that men invented it, Dümmel said the following in his statement on Instagram: “The question of whether founders who develop products that are primarily intended to appeal to women must also be female, in my opinion, leads again in the completely wrong direction. Generally, the gender of the founders should not be a characteristic of the question of whether a product is relevant or not.”
Again it seems like women are being shamed for having their period. That menstruation has been seen as “dirty, shameful and dishonoring” is a complicated problem and is present to this day. Women and in general menstruating people would benefit more from releasing the period of being a “taboo topic”. If this was guaranteed, there also would be trash bins in public toilets for disposing period articles. There would never be this controversy. The founders said in their statement that they did not want to convey the message that the period is something “disgusting”. Furthermore, they said that people who already follow them for a longer time know that they want to help “create a publicity which counteracts the stigmatization of the period”.
Yet one of the founders said that “after a while, it (period articles) smells unpleasant and you can see it because the paper is soaking wet”. They did not notice how wrong that came off. This statement portrays the period as disgusting and unhygienic. And you can’t say it does not.
People also perceive it as period shaming because you would touch your period articles with a glove as if you could not touch them with your bare hands (because it is so “dirty and impure”).
Sexist, unsustainable, expensive, unnecessary
I did a small survey (70 people) and asked if they would say that this product is sexist.
Here you can see that there are different views on this question. Especially the shitstorm accused the founders of being sexist. But why?
The reason for that accusation is that the product is pink. With that, you fulfill the stereotype that pink is “typically girly” which was extremely advertised back in the 1950s. When asking for the opinion of participants of my survey someone also said this: “It's disgustingly sexist, I really don't know why people do such things, if they have a problem then they can just freaking leave.” Someone else also asked, “[…] why a glove? and why is it pink? should’ve made it a little black bag, more discrete […]”. Someone else also said this: “It is disgusting and why is it pink? Periods and menstrual products are nothing to be ashamed of and that men think they have the right to make women feel like periods are disgusting, this shit is sexist.”
The sustainability of this product is questionable. Nowhere is written which material this product is made of. And since it is a glove, I — and many others- assume that it is made out of plastic. We already have eight million tons of plastic in our oceans and do not need any more of it. Maybe we will see pink gloves in the ocean soon. At least they are pink, right?
Let's talk about the price of this product. If you choose the 48 piece paket, it costs you 11.46 Euros. The 96 piece paket costs 23,92 Euros. On other websites like “Tierarzt24”, you can buy 100 pieces of pink gloves for 18 Euros. A woman spends around 14 Euros on period articles monthly and now you would buy these Pinky Gloves additionally. Only because you have a functioning cycle.
Additionally, this product is unnecessary. This is what most people think (so do I)
And so do 84% in my survey. And this is also reflected by the shitstorm. One person said that it “ could be useful in some situations, for instance in school. But the price is not okay […].”
Yet only 40% think the hate is justified. (But remember that only 70 people participated.)
What some people said in the survey is that the idea was good but they did not think about other aspects enough. And I agree.
The product in general may have good intentions but only because the intentions were good, it does not mean that the implementation is also good. This product only caused a huge shitstorm. I do think that is in some way sexist but overall I question the sustainability and need for this product. To be honest I do not think that this was a huge problem in the female community. If there is no trash bin, you roll it up with paper. Or use your tissue bag. And if your toilet cubicle does not have a trash bin, it has one in the front, before leaving the toilets. Or maybe I am “privileged” enough to not have experienced this problem. I don’t know.
In conclusion, the female world did not really need this product. It is unnecessary and problematic in many ways.