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Free Bleeding refers to the practice of abstaining from using feminine hygiene products during menstruation. In February 2014, free bleeding was promoted by members of 4chan as a prank to convince women that feminine hygiene products were a form of patriarchal oppression.
The concept of free bleeding has been discussed online since the early 2000s, with the earliest known article on the topic posted by the women’s reproductive health blog All About My Vagina on March 31st, 2004.
On January 6th, 2011, the political blog Red Light Politics shared a link to the article on All About My Vagina, praising the controversial idea as “a nice and necessary departure from the usual discourse surrounding menstruation, blood and the female body.” On August 27th, the feminist blog Feministing published an article titled “Letting Ourselves Bleed,” which encouraged readers to let themselves bleed for once. On October 27th, Funny or Die posted a comedy sketch video satirically promoting the practice of free bleeding (shown below).
On November 3rd, 2013, women’s interest blogger Kendra Smith mentioned free bleeding in an article about “period shaming.”
On January 31st, 2014, a thread was created on 4chan to propose the launch of “Operation Freebleeding,” a false flag campaign in which 4chan users would rally around “free bleeding” under the pretense of promoting feminism and self-empowerment, thereby hoping to provoke angry responses from the feminist blogosphere.
The same day, several fake Twitter feeds were launched with tweets ostensibly promoting the act of free bleeding in protest against “male-dominated companies” behind the feminine hygiene products.
I am not ashamed of natural bodily functions. No longer giving my hard earned money to male dominated companies. Free Women #freebleeding— Sweet Cooze (@CozyCooze) January 31, 2014
The Tampon is a MALE invention designed to OPPRESS women into RAPING themselves and spending their hard-earned money.
— Roaring_Womyn (@Roaring_Womyn) January 31, 2014
— Jessica Marquez (@dontjudgeme3333) January 31, 2014
On February 1st, The Daily Dot published an article about the Twitter trend, which traced its origin to a prank orchestrated by a group of 4chan users. On the same day, the novelty Twitter account AdolfJoeBiden tweeted the hashtag “#FreeBleeding.”
Lesbian Tom Petty singing She's a good girl, loves Obama Hates Jesus and America too #FreeBleeding— AdolfJoeBiden™ (@Bidenshairplugs) February 1, 2014
On February 2nd, the satirical news blog Modern Women Digest published an article calling free bleeding a “disturbing new feminist trend.” According to the Twitter analytics site Topsy, there were over 600 tweets containing the keywords “free bleeding” on February 4th. On February 6th, the Internet news blog UpRoxx published an article about the 4chan prank.
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