Tampax at centre of ‘transphobic’ Twitter pile-on over tampon joke tweet

A graphic combining a tweet from Tampax, a box of Tampax brand tampons, a trans flag and the Twitter blue bird logo

Tampax sparked a social media firestorm after it was accused of “sexualising women” over a joke tweet and, predictably, so-called ‘gender-critical’ folks were deeply triggered. 

The US branch of the period product company tweeted on Monday (21 November) a joke about tampons that is a spoof of a popular internet meme. The brand wrote: “You’re in their DMs. We’re in them. We are not the same.”

The classic meme features the lines “you are in their direct messages”, when someone slides into another person’s inbox to profess some intimate or romantically-inclined intentions, and is followed by the phrase “I am…”.

It suggests the person posting the meme is closer than the one trying their luck in the DMs.

Initially, the lighthearted, if slightly spicy, tweet was well received with people understanding it was indeed a joke.

Actor Angela Belcamino quipped Tampax was “out for blood” with the jest while another Twitter user called for the company to “give their social media manager a raise for these tweets”.

However, the tweet ruffled the feathers of conservative and ‘gender-critical’ voices online who believed the edgy joke sexualises periods and the people who experience them.


The collective outrage over the tweet caused the hashtag #BoycottTampax to trend on Twitter, with people calling for those who experience periods to stop buying the company’s products. 

One user wrote: “That is a revolting statement. You [Tampax] are providers/manufacturers of a serviceable product used for women and girls’ menstrual care.

“That you can even frame this as being inside us is just insulting. Feel shame and show some respect to the women and girls who are your customers.”

Another added: “Real weird for a company that sells products made for woman’s natural bodily functions to make a tweet sexualising women for using their products…. lmfao fire your social media manager, this is gross.”

Prominent ‘gender-critical’ activist and author Helen Joyce described the tweet as “creepy” and said it could “only be appealing to people (men) who aren’t in its target audience”. She claimed the tweet was “massively off-putting to the young girls it [Tampax] needs to convert into new customers”. 

Anti-LGBT+ right-wing YouTuber Lauren Chen questioned on Twitter who thought “sexualising tampons while also making them gender neutral” was a “good idea”. 

The tag was rife with people angry over Tampax’s use of gender-neutral language – a move that is inclusive of trans and non-binary people who are, frequently, left out of the conversation about periods.

It was also filled with hateful statements directed at popular LGBTQ+ activists and TikTokers Dylan Mulvaney and Jeffrey Marsh, neither of which were directly linked to Tampax’s Monday tweet.  

Many people rightfully pushed back at the outrage against Tampax’s tweet, saying “transphobic bigots” and “TERFs” need to be quiet. 

Mulvaney claimed in a March video on TikTok to have received a partnership offer from Tampax, but it’s unclear if this was true or if she accepted it.

Marsh has worked with period brands This is L and The Phluid Project, but they have never been sponsored by Tampax. 

Tampax simply responded to the backlash with a simple tweet, saying they “refused to let twitter shut down before [they] shared this tweet”

Some people got wild for a ‘boycott’ hashtag

In October, conservatives called for a boycott of Ulta Beauty after Mulvaney was featured in an episode of the brand’s official podcast. Amid the backlash, Estée Lauder then came under similar fire for featuring a trans employee in its spring-2022 ad campaign.

Tampax was at the centre of a different Twitter pile-on in 2020 after it celebrated the company’s inclusive stance on people who experience menstrual cycles.

That same year, anti-trans voices raged about British health and beauty retailer Superdrug launching inclusive period products for “people who menstruate”