Posted on: 22 June 2018
“I’m on my period,” Saga Noren declares to her colleagues in a recent episode of acclaimed crime-thriller The Bridge. Although this candour is very much in character for the notably direct Noren, actress Sofia Helin is just as open about the topic of menstruation off screen.
In fact that line was unscripted, improvised by Helin during a mundane office scene to confront a stigma which impacts women everywhere.
“Not talking about our periods is a big problem in the world. We should just say ‘good morning everybody, I am on my period, so you have to take care of me’. I’m going to do it from now on, even to men”.
It’s this outspokenness that has made Helin something of a feminist figurehead. As her role as Saga came to an end this year and her time is no longer spent on and around Øresund Bridge, Helin has begun tackling the issue of sexual harassment in her home country, Sweden.
Helin believed she had an “obligation” to have this conversation, but instead of doing it on a radio or television show, she did something powerfully simple: she created a Facebook group with ten women, and encouraged them to invite their friends and share their testimonies. 36 hours later, there were 1000 stories of sexual harassment on the page. Within a few weeks, over one hundred thousand women had signed the petition; from lawyers to sex workers to singers. The government had no choice but to listen. Silent Action, Sweden’s #Metoo movement, was born.
“We should make a hashtag like we did with #MeToo, only let’s talk about our periods. We can change it – if everybody does”
Following the movement’s success in Sweden, Helin is now channeling this momentum towards eradicating menstrual stigma. In a recent interview with The Guardian, she discusses the inaccurate information and menstrual myths that have emerged as a result of the period taboo. For her, its this societal silence that ultimately prevents us from accessing the support and products we need to deal with our periods with dignity, and is therefore a major issue facing women today. Realizing the potential of social media as a tool for good, Helin hopes to use it to inspire others to normalise periods.
Sofia Helin is undoubtedly a renaissance women. A brilliant actress, a ruthless campaigner, an ambassador for Water Aid and now the spearhead of a movement to re-define our periods, she is a force to be reckoned with.
And her greatest wish?
For her daughter to be as proud and excited as she was when she gets her period.