classify this under the “you gotta be kidding me” category:

A boss in Norway has ordered all female staff to wear red bracelets during their periods – to explain why they are using the toilet more often. […] businesses were becoming obsessed with lost productivity due to employees spending too much time answering the call of nature.

Here is what I say to this:

Boss orders female staff to wear red bracelets when they are on their periods


30 thoughts on “aw, HELLSNO!

  1. Just when you think you’ve seen it all. Unbelievable.

    Wristbands? Really?! The article states, “’Women quite justifiably feel humiliated by being tagged in this way, so that all their colleagues are aware of this intimate detail of their private life.” Big surprise there. Women are a marked category in our culture to begin with; we’re not men, we’re all too commonly seen as “the Other.” Adding the red bracelet to the mix makes the wearer a double-marked woman, which is extremely problematic. And it’s not like menstruation is being celebrated in this case; the wristband signifies a whole slew of negative stereotypes—impurity, uncleanliness, possibly emotional, you name it.

    In high school, I read the novel “The Red Tent,” which somewhat reminds me of this situation. Written by Anita Diamant, the book highlights the subculture, if you will, of the red tent. Women gathered in the tent while giving birth, having their periods, and even when battling illnesses. The conversations and mysteries are explored in this feminine domain, and the book offers an insider’s perspective of the daily lives of a biblical sorority of mothers, wives, and daughters. It’s a great read; I highly recommend it. Anyway, in “The Red Tent,” feminine processes are revered and celebrated. Although the argument could be made that the women are being separated and guaranteed, they are entering a weeklong period of paradise.

  2. Courtney Waugh says:

    How humiliating and violating to women’s privacy is this? Now they are asking women to state to the world an intimate private issue such as when they are having their period. This is just one more way they can classify women, as said above, “The Other.” It is like saying, “during that time of the month, watch out for her.” Is it really so bad that everyone around needs be warned to stay away so a woman can have another bathroom break? It is like the men need to be warned that we are experiencing a natural process because of how much it affects us in a disabling way. This bracelet seems to show that as women, we are disabled for at least a week a month. Seems to be more the reason why we cannot be as productive on the job as a man. Not! This should be classified as a form of sexism and an attempt separate women from men even more. I cannot imagine that the breaks these women are taking are so long and often that it truly effects the production of the company.

    On a side note, it is interesting how companies have worked to develop products that are hidden and less noticeable and then women are forced to be humiliated and their personal life made noticeable.

    If it is merely the use of the bathroom, shouldn’t all people who are diagnosed to needing to use the bathroom frequently wear a bracelet at all times?

    Can any issues be private anymore? Can any women’s issues be private?

  3. Liz Liebman says:

    I think one of the most interesting things on this page is one of the responses by “john.” He said, “There is no compulsion to wear it…but If you wear it you can take longer breaks…and its likely that people will steer clear of you…and maybe understand that you are likley to have mood swings etc.” He is missing the entire point. He doesn’t see this wristband as an invasion of privacy at all; he sees it as a positive thing for women because they can get longer breaks and be entitled to their ‘mood swings.’ How is it okay to target one group of employees with these wristbands? Are there any measures that are monitoring the male employees’ use of the bathroom?

    And define compulsion, please because I think there’s a fine line in a work setting when a boss is asking an employee to do something that they may not agree with. When can an employee say no and not have to worry about his or her job? Can women say no to these wristbands and be guaranteed that not harm will come to their jobs?

  4. Maggie Bernay says:

    This is absolute craziness. It is absolutely no one’s business but my own as to when I get my period. This has to be against privacy laws for both men and women. As grown adults, people are responsible to be able to use the bathroom when they choose to. Like Carrie said, I believe that this is just another way for women to put into a gender category and feel inferior to men. Why don’t men have to wear something ridiculous to justify why they are going to the bathroom? While the women did state they felt embarrassed wearing these bracelets, I have to wonder what they are doing to promote change in their office. I think this is a perfect opportunity for the women to speak out and be the example for standing up for oneself.

  5. Marcela Melara says:

    Wow. I can’t believe these people are actually serious about this. Wtf.

    I read the article on this issue, and it seems as if it’s becoming a common problem in several Norwegian firms. I’m actually pretty surprised to hear this kind of event happening from a country like Norway, that is usually seen as a good country to live in, where people have rights and there is little unemployment etc. According to a BBC news article I looked up (, it’s actually the “best place to live”. Hard to understand if women are being so humiliated in their work places.

    I think the thing that really pisses me off the most are some of the comments made by readers of the actual article that talks about the red wristbands. Steve Angell from London writes: “I wish my boss would wear one when its her time of the month so I would know to avoid her!” You gotta be f***ing kidding me! I really hope he is joking. This will sound awful, but it had to be a man who made this comment.

    Comments like these just show how little understanding and respect men and society still have for women. A woman’s period is the perfect place to attack her since she is seen as vulnerable. She is more emotional (than usual) and irritable. What they are doing is just increasing the discomfort and the annoyance in these women during a time in a month when the least they need is somebody over their shoulders restricting them to do something as natural and necessary as to go to the bathroom.

    People say it’s for productivity, well then start giving out wristbands to those who ate beans the night before because I’m sure many people need to pay more frequent visits to the bathroom on such days, too. They won’t mind.

  6. Conor Callahan says:

    wow, I almost want to laugh at how ridiculous that is. I mean I have three sisters and obviously they open with me about those female bodily functions, but outside of your own home and especially at work, that is your own business. There is no need for a public display that shows your boss it’s that time of month, that is a private matter that no one needs to know about except you. Why does it matter if they have to go to the bathroom a lot anyways, doesn’t everyone have those days when you just gotta piss a lot.
    As carrie says above, I’m pretty sure it sucks enough to be on your period, adding the bracelet just puts a label on you in your workplace which I’m sure doesn’t help the situation. I feel bad for those women, and I honestly can’t believe a boss making women do such a thing. Women already have a target painted on their back within the workforce most of the time, no need to throw another label on them. This incident calls for a labor strike…

  7. Cory Andrews says:

    I agree, this ridiculous and inappropriate. Red bracelets will only demarcate a group of employees as different from every one else and subject them to discrimination/biases/etc. Does this employer really think that using these wrist bands will only serve the purpose to explain why a woman is using the bathroom more often? What is going to happen when other employees start to avoid women wearing the wrist bands? Maybe they should just be sequestered all together, since that seems to be the idea here. I can see this practice easily leading to (further) discrimination against women at the workplace, and I’d like to hear whoever implemented this rule explain that one once it starts happening.

  8. Obi Juan Breton says:

    Ok. I’m all for maximizing productivity in the work place via communication with your employees but this is ridiculous. Like the world hasn’t seen enough ridiculous efforts to control others, e.g. The Scarlett Letter, though fictional, was completely uncalled for. At least Hawthorne’s excuse for his primitive characters is the time period. But making women employees wear a red bracelet, in order to find some answer why she might not be as “productive” as she usually is, because mother nature is texting her is absolutely unexcusable. And in accordance with the previous post, women have every right to justifiably feel humiliated. Don’t we have enough prejudices and tags on humanity and women more specifically. Unreal.

  9. Ashley Yang says:

    Oh my God. HOW IS THAT EVEN LEGAL???

    You know we (as humans) have gotten way too obsessed with “productivity” when we can’t even spare five minutes for a potty break. Of course there are people who are going to abuse the privilege. But that’s just something that we have to live with. Kind of like how prices are always jacked up to deal with the inevitable cost that shoplifters will bring on a store. That company seems to have forgotten that they are working with PEOPLE, not robots.

    However, I do recognize the hassle of people abusing the privilege of break tiems. One of the most irritating aspects of being a teacher is dealing with kids leaving the classroom for a myriad of reasons. “Can I go to the bathroom?” “Can I go to my locker to get x y or z?” “Can I go get a drink?” (And yes they do say “can” not “may,” because nobody teaches English anymore) And as much as you may want to be a total tyrant, that’s really not your right, is it? My friends and I figured out very quickly in middle school that teachers pretty much never refused girls the request to go to the bathroom–though they would refuse boys. We glorified in this public, yet private, knowledge–and yeah, on occasion, might have abused it (mostly in gym or science class though so that doesn’t really count right?). It worked particularly well with the male teachers. You just had to sidle up and ask to be excused and if they hesitated at all, widen your eyes and look anguished, and they’d practically usher you to the door.

    Remembering that royal treatment makes me even more shocked to read about this. Really. What is the world coming to???

  10. jr. woodard says:

    This is totally uncalled for. For that to happen to women I feel disgusted. Its pretty promising that a man had everything to do with this scandal. A woman is gained the right just along with any man to have privacy. Why does anyone want to be open about something so private about their period. If they got to go to the bathroom, let them go! Women, and men at that, dont need no excuse for their personal business. This is strictly violating to women and makes me ashamed that a man, an insecure man probably, would allow this to happen. This is just another way to placing women in another class that states men are superior and women are inferior. The women must stand up against this bizarre event and really use their voice. It is stupid that they even have to make a stand against this but they must. If they don’t, then i will be surprised.

  11. Tristan Bartsch says:


    I could point out the obvious ridiculous and offensive issues that this article brings up. OR I could look on the bright side.

    For one, women will no longer have to explain why they’re acting bitchy. As long as they’ve got a nice new red bracelet on their wrist, they’re golden! Women can now use this new all-powerful bracelet to gain the equality they’ve always wanted! As long as they’re branded, they’re behavior is excused. After all, they’re just women.

    Second, I’m sure the red bracelets will cause some awkward tension between men and women. God forbid a woman ever bring up her period. I think men would rather pretend it doesn’t exist, or that it is a myth created by women who just aren’t “in the mood.” Awkward moments are, well, awkward, but they’re also kind of fun. I wonder what would happen if a woman started wearing more than one bracelet at a time. “Oh sorry boys, flows extra heavy today.”

    Third, what woman wouldn’t love a new red bracelet? At least when women are dealing with the pain and humiliation from her personal life and body being grossly exploited, she will have a pretty red bracelet on her wrist. Good thing she’s just a woman and could only ever want jewelry. They should come out with a different color bracelet signifying PMS. Then everyone will REALLY know when to stay away!

  12. Amaury Ramirez says:

    I know that owning a business is a very big responsibility and it takes a lot of effort to keep the business saying. Bosses usually seem like assholes because they get in the case of their employees when productivity is down. This is not a problem. I do have a problem with bosses trying to infringe in the right of a woman to privacy. Why should a woman have to wear a red bracelet? What purpose does this actually serve?

    This is not going to help the business in any way. If anything, it will create more problems in the work place. Although everyone is born of a woman, people feel that menstruation is a disgusting subject to speak about—including myself. Therefore, if women are forced to put red bracelets on it continues the cycle of women being inferior to men. This created ideologies for the future generation that are not true. A man will never have to be identified as having something that is so personal. If a man is sterile, there isn’t a big sing on him that means: “hey everyone I am sterile.” So why should women be labeled? That’s crap.

  13. MEM says:

    This is just another step further that shows how the government has control of our lives. How is government allowing this form of humiliation? Women having their period is already an inconvenience in itself, and now we have to wear a red bracelet to let the world know when it is the time of the month. God for bid productivity is slowed because women have to use the bathroom for five minutes to tend to their feminine needs. I realize that in this generation more and more women are becoming more open to their period, but that doesn’t mean we need to display to fellow co-workers in the professional work force. A women menstruating is a private matter and only that women has the right to make that public if she chooses too. It truly is no one else business. Requiring women to wear a bracelet during their period and notifying the world violates a woman’s right. This further makes women a subject to men, seeing that I am sure it was a man that implemented this requirement. I am open about my period, but I could not imagine myself wearing a bracelet and displaying its the time of the month for me.

  14. levenstein says:

    As many have said, this is utterly ridiculous. This should NOT be legal. I remember that in middle school it was completely embarrassing for a girl to have her period. I used to hide it all the time, even around other girls! I couldn’t even imagine having everyone in my work place aware of my bodily experiences. To be honest, what is the purpose of this? It may give reason for why women are using the bathroom more often, but who the heck cares? Give their right to privacy. I recall that learning about menstruation in school was a touchy subject. Guys thought it was disgusting, girls turned red in the cheeks thinking about it. I could imagine that the men in this Norwegian work place would just turn their back on these women once they realize what they are going through. Some men have issues separating women from their emotions, especially during menstruation. There is no need to know when a women is on her period because it only stigmatizes her position as a female. A period should be embraced more than anything! It is the fundamental process that leads to reproduction. This male boss in Norway should reevaluate his view on menstruation- it may make women go to the bathroom more often, but it’s one of the greatest parts of human existence. Let’s allow women the right to decide who they tell when their menstruating.

  15. mary Levenstein says:

    When I first heard about this story I laughed. I thought this idea of the red bracelet couldn’t be real. Especially not from Norway. Then, I felt annoyed, irritated and down right mad. Then I thought “I wonder what color bracelet the men with enlarged prostates would have to wear”. Oh, wait – they are men – no big deal, they can go to the bathroom as often as they like.

  16. Salvador Forte says:

    So is there some device to let others know when men get boners? That way people know why the men aren’t standing up, or why there is a drop of productivity. I mean, if they feel it is right to embarrass women in the workplace by marking them when they are going through something extremely personal, then embarrassing men shouldn’t be a problem right? The men cannot possibly be productive if their minds are wandering.
    This is just ridiculous, and a huge violation of privacy. It is sexist in every sense of the word. Labeling a woman on her period is just foul. Calling out anybody on a private matter is not only rude, but unacceptable, especially in the workplace. The fact that this is possible is astonishing. Hopefully, this isn’t indicative of the Norwegian workplace. It doesn’t seem very…friendly. I just hope the American workplace doesn’t get this serious about productivity.

  17. Sam Higgs says:

    This is deep! Inequality in the workplace impacts women’s paychecks even more their dignity. This red braclet symbolizes “low production”. This is another way to deminish the work women do in our society. Because of their period, we have to put women at a handicap to men? I understand sometimes women get a little crazy during their time of the month, but I “would too if it felt like your insides were going to fall out” as women have told me. However, I do not see a decrease in their production when they are on their period. Is this even a standard for men too? Say a man injured his back playing sports, would his boss require him to wear an orange braclet that symbolizes he will be moving slow because of his back? Although these cant really compare, it is the same idea. Society makes it even harder for women to be equal because we still have stuff like this.

  18. Esther Altomare says:

    When I first read this post, I actually starting laughing. This is absurd. As I read it again, and looked further I realize how awful this really is. Using the bathroom is a necessity. When I have my period, its not that I go the bathroom more and spend a nice 30 minutes changing my tampon. This is just so typical, looking at the females and blaming their biologically differences on the loss of productivity. What about the male workers who spend an extra couple of minutes away from work? I know for a fact that having to pee is pretty distracting, and is probably limiting to work productivity. Also, I for one know during an extra boring class the 5 minute break I sometimes take to go the bathroom actually brings me back and increases my attention once I return to the classroom. I still cannot believe this article and find it absolutely outrageous.

  19. Anonymous says:

    At first glance I thought this was a joke. The audacity of this boss. Who the hell does he think he is trying to tell someone to wear a bracelet because of a females natural process. I mean who cares if they need to use the restroom more. What are they suppose to do? Hold it in? Unlikely, the poor or loss of productivity is not because of the monthly visitor is must be something else. The management perhaps? This is one of the more ridiculous things that I have heard to try to oppress women.

  20. Stephanie Haddad says:

    First of all, I have to say I absolutely love that picture of the baby giving the finger. That just made my day. Anyways, this is absolutely crazy. I mean the only way I can really believe this is if I make a complete joke out of it. I mean REALLY??? Not only do women have to deal with the painful symptoms of periods but on top of all of that, they’re now being required to publicly shout out in a professional work place that they’re PMSing! Seriously? Awesome. Sorry dudes, but the poor women deserve a break. If my boss ever asked me to wear a red bracelet, my response would simply be, (and please excuse my language), kiss my ass.

  21. Jena Ko says:

    At first the whole idea of bosses forcing women to wear red bands while on their period seemed crazy. But if I try to reason why they would consider such a dehumanizing idea, I can sort of understand the bosses in Norway. Living in a country where they are not top of the rich prospering countries, the bosses are trying to find best ways to be productive. If I didn’t have any morals I would probably do the same thing. Restricting women to go to the bathroom longer when on their menstrual cycle is pretty much indirectly telling workers to stop wasting time in the bathroom. In all honesty, every worker gets a bit exhausted and sometimes tend to linger. And the best place to relax where the bosses aren’t looking is in the bathroom. I too do take advantage of the bathroom when I just don’t feel like working. But, maybe the bosses of Norway have a different reason to forcing women to wear red bands on their wrists.

  22. Brittany Betts says:

    Thanks to technology, nothing is personal. With facebook and dating sites you can find a whole lot of information about someone you’ve never even met or seen before. Not to mention ordering things online with a credit card puts your credit card number and who knows what else out there forever. With computers pretty much exposing our entire identity, it seems as though there are very few things still kept to ourselves without the entire universe knowing…like when a woman has her period. Cross that off the list. Apparently it’s now relevant to know when a woman has her period to justify a bathroom trip. WHAT? So a woman may waste 45 seconds of time in the bathroom, but what about people taking smoke breaks? Those are a good ten minutes down the drain. Instead of wasting money on some stupid red bracelets maybe the boss should invest in some nicorette gum.

  23. acar2284 says:

    I can’t believe that was actually allowed to happen. It’s a basic human right to be allowed to use the bathroom. It’s unthinkable that people were actually made to feel guilty for that. And especially targeting women! That is such an outrageous violation of privacy.

    It’s ridiculous that firms are so obsessed with their bottom line that they would micromanage their employees on such an inappropriate level. I mean, bathroom swipe cards? Seriously?? I can’t believe that they’re really losing that much money because of bathroom breaks. If they’re in a serious bind, then they need to find some other ways to cut the fat.

  24. Graham Pastor says:

    I think it is strange when people treat going to the bathroom like it is a right or a privilege. It is an act of nature. We don’t really get to choose when we have to go. I’ve just always found it ridiculous, it would be like asking before you sneeze. It’s a bodily function. Privacy, on the other hand, is a right. When I saw this I immediately though of the Scarlet Letter and how we are supposed to recognize the ridiculousness in the book but this is ok? I guess it just goes to show that sexism is still affecting women in the workplace (and elsewhere).

  25. jm0392 says:

    Is this a joke!? Wow, I cannot believe that anyone would even think it is okay to suggest such an idea. It definitely sounds like the person who came up with this idea had something against women. The menstrual cycle is not a public matter; most women like to keep it in private. If I had to wear a wristband every time I was on my period, I would never leave my house! Wearing a red band while you are menstruating would definitely be categorized as discriminatory. Whoever came up with this degrading idea, most likely a man, is putting a bad name on all businesses in Norway. After doing some research, Norway actually has great benefits for women in the work force. For example, in Norway you can take 13 months of leave for pregnancy and still receive eighty percent of your pay or take 10.5 moths off and receive one hundred percent of your pay. In the United Stats, none of these benefits are guaranteed!
    In my opinion, by making women wear these bracelets it is like saying they have a disability or disease. The menstrual cycle is a natural part of life as a female. It is NOT a disability that a woman should feel ashamed or less productive because of. Yes, we do feel like crap for a week because of it, but this is no reason for us to be humiliated and degraded by our boss or co-workers! If I were an employee at this business, there is no chance that I would stand for this rule. The Norway government definitely needs to consider doing something about this absurd rule. I really hope it does not last, and I really hope it does not spread. I know a lot of women in America would react if anything like this ever began in our country. The fact that female employees actually listened to their boss when he implemented this rule makes me question their self-respect. It puts a bad image not only on all of Norway, but also the women. Do they want a weak and dependent stereotype? This has always been the traditional way of thinking about females, but come on it’s the twenty first century. Women are making achievements we’d never imagine possible, so why is this exploitation still occurring?

  26. dana Nachbar says:

    wow! wearing a wrist band during my time of the month would be extremely mortifying. Its like wearing a sign on my head that says “hey there don’t come near me, I have a crime scene in my pants.” Now who would want that? absolutely nobody. The only time that would be acceptable is if my friends were getting on my nerves and I needed an excuse to shut them up without telling them every 5 seconds that I have my period. Now that’s the only time its somewhat acceptable to flash around a bright red bracelet. Otherwise, heck no that’s way to embarrassing!

  27. danielle moreau says:

    this rule is ridiculous!!!! But to be honest, all i can do is laugh at it’s stupidity….

    First of all, there is no way that productivity could increase due to the use of these bands because no matter what, these chicks are still on their periods and they’re STILL going to have to go use the bathroom more often. What difference does it make that now everybody in the office knows about her situation?! NONE. I feel like this is simply unjustified humiliation with no benefit whatsoever to the company of it’s employees (except those who find the rule amusing…. however, this feeling will fade).

    I don’t necessarily think this is crossing the line of degradation, but i do feel that it is extremely embarrassing for those women involved, and the fact that it serves virtually no purpose makes it unbelievably juvenile. Women having their periods is natural and it shouldn’t be marked as some weird phenomenon or disability… this whole situation just strikes me as odd

  28. AbbyMW says:

    So, reading about this kind of discrimination pisses me off. Blaming the lack of productivity on a women’s cycle is absurd; I mean come on. I feel like this entire bracelet business is just a way for men to figure out when not to piss of women. And not to say that I am sexist against men, but it seems like when it comes to periods men try to discriminate more than they try to understand! I mean last winter I went to the grocery store to get Ice Cream with my boyfriend. The first thing the guy in line behind us says is “someone must be on her period.” I mean how rude, first it is ridiculous that in order to get Ice Cream I must be on my period, and second why does my period have anything to do with it. Anyways, I would gladly quit before putting a red bracelet on my wrist! Also, if they are looking at a lack of productivity, why do they immediately look at women? It worries me when societies blame women for lack of productivity. Again, I am not sexist, but in my experiences in the work place the men are much less productive.
    The article also talks about how bathrooms are monitored using “sign in books”, swipe cards etc. This just makes people in general very uncomfortable. Using the bathroom is a human need; it is necessary to survival. If a company is having that much trouble with productivity my guess is that either they have hired some really bad workers and don’t know how to deal with them, or there standards are too high. To say that the bathroom usage of workers effects productivity that much is just ridiculous!

    • AbbyMW says:

      new strategy: wear a red bracelet any day you don’t feel like working, and just sit in the bathroom all day! It is call BEATING THE SYSTEM!

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