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MASHED: A New Limited Series Exploring Pelvic Pain, Queerness and features August Period Products!

By Madge (she/her), Interviewed by Ruby Moon (she/her) from Team August | 11.2.2022

We are SO stoked because August products are being featured in an incredible new film project: MASHED.

Keep reading to get to know the creator of this limited series, learn about vaginismus, and be inspired by some advice to combat feelings of isolation!

Meet Madge: The writer/creator/lead actress of MASHED

Madge: My name is Madge. I’m an Australian-born-Brooklyn-based writer, actor, and creative artist, currently back in school to become a sex therapist.

I am ignited by stories that explore shame, healing, transgenerational trauma, the LGBTQ+ experience, relief, and the complexity of the mind/body connection.

Describe MASHED in one sentence!

Madge: A tender, raunchy, and queer exploration of pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction as it relates to those with vaginas and intimately based on my own personal experiences with vaginismus.

Before we go on, a quick definition of vaginismus:

Vaginismus is, “a penetration disorder in which any form of vaginal penetration such as tampons, digit, vaginal dilators, gynecologic examinations, and intercourse is often painful or impossible” [NCBI].

Madge: Vaginismus is a deeply visceral and personal experience. I live with vaginismus. I am yet to find a way to define the experience for myself that isn’t: “when something is inside me, my body feels like a cantaloupe having its seeds violently scraped out of it”.

What inspired you to create MASHED?

Madge: MASHED is what I needed on screens;

  • In adolescence when I was too scared to tell my friends I couldn’t go to the beach because it hurt to use tampons.
  • When my first boyfriend thought he was simply too big and I simply thought I was gay, as if it were simple.
  • I needed it in the beginnings of adulthood when I started experiencing flashbacks and body memories from a childhood that didn’t feel like mine.
  • When I started having painful casual sex because I didn’t think my pleasure and safety held any relevance.
  • When I started kicking at the gynecologist and using alcohol to numb in moments of intimacy.

And I need it now;

  • As I digest that 1 in 4 people with vaginas are affected by chronic pelvic vulvovaginal pain.
  • As I become conscious that I am not, nor have I ever been, alone in this.
  • As I talk about my vagina to anyone who will listen and hear my own story reflected in the stories vagina owners share back.
  • As I heal and embark on the sex life I deserve, that we all deserve.

MASHED exists to insist that those who live with pelvic pain are represented, held, and never alone with just their thoughts and google again. By creating artistic, educational content around our pain and shame, we are normalizing its prevalence and creating space for people with vaginas to explore and share their experiences.

Advocating for comprehensive sex education, healing the shame that binds us, and centering ourselves in our sex lives, MASHED is a love letter both to and from my vagina. I hope it reaches yours.

What was the process like creating this series?

I liken my experience of creating MASHED to that of a bull let loose in a china shop. By this I mean, once I was off, I was off.

And I was shattering things. And I was bucking. And unstoppable. And chaotic. And touchy. And grateful. And when I saw the broken porcelain all I could think of was kintsugi.

It was vulnerable and community based and scary and life-changing.

What were, and are, your goals with MASHED? How do you hope it makes a difference?

The series is doing really well on the festival circuit and we are looking forward to heading into distribution meetings with streaming platforms for further development.

Hell yeah to seeing vaginas, therapy, painful sex, periods, queerness, and sexual trauma represented honestly on our screens sans shame really soon.

Any shoutouts to the other creators of this limited series?

MASHED is directed by Stacey Maltin and produced by Besties Make Movies.

How does menstruation exist in your life?

  1. My period is pretty regular.
  2. Until recently I struggled with a lot of shame around my inability to use tampons.
  3. I literally stain my sheets at least once every cycle and this seems to be something I will never grow out of.
  4. I’m definitely confronting that I may be one of the many menstruators who experience PMDD and am determining if this needs intervention or not.
  5. I’m interested in learning more about how to harness the “seasons” within my cycle.

Do you have a funny, embarrassing or empowering period story that you’d like to share?

I honestly have too many to count. Some of my stories around this make me laugh out loud, but they all still break my heart.

What are your go-to period products?

The only products I use are August liners, day pads, and night pads.

Before discovering August, I used the same products from generic brands. I’m looking into exploring period underwear and hope to one day be able to use a menstrual cup. Although more importantly, I hope to become truly at peace with the potential of only ever being able to use pads.

Why did you specifically want to include August products in your production?

There are a few scenes in the show where the products are featured and our final episode revolves almost exclusively around a tampon. Besties Make Movies is an eco-friendly, women and non-binary run production company so it was pivotal for us to work with a company whose values align with that of the project. We are obsessed with the way August combines art and advocacy to create tangible societal and environmental change in the menstruation arena.

Also from an individual perspective, as someone living with vaginismus and just beginning my journey of dissolving pad stigma, it was important for me to work with a company that is loud and proud about periods and, specifically, the use of pads. So many other companies market their products as a delicate secret and MASHED as a project, and all the artists involved are anything but delicate.

The majority of our cast and crew was made up with individuals who menstruate, so not only did we use the products for the show, we also used them as a go-to for anyone who may have needed a pad or tampon while working.

What connection do you see between a film project like this one and a period care brand like August?

Change happens through a variety of different people and mediums who share the same views and hopes coming together to tackle an issue from multiple sides.

The artists must work with the advocates must work with the entrepreneurs must work with the scientists must work with the elected officials must work with the teachers must work with the therapists and on and on and on, interchangeably, and not exclusively.

This is how shit gets done. This is how we see ourselves in others. This is how this life becomes worth it.

Any advice for someone who has just determined that they may have vaginismus?

This is not a platitude – you are not alone.

I thought I was so terminally unique for twenty-four years. The condition is deeply isolating and as vagina owners, we’re taught that our currency and worth is dependent on what we can and cannot fit inside of us. This makes it really easy, although acutely painful, to hold this like a precious secret for ourselves and ourselves alone.

And yet, your body isn’t a secret. You are not less worthwhile in your sexuality, womanhood, full-bodied sense of self because you deal with pelvic pain. Tell people your story. Don’t put up with bullshit from medical professionals who are adamant about misunderstanding and gaslighting you.

Psychotherapy is a must. Physical therapy is important and hard. Community is pivotal. Meet your anger (I for one am infuriated). Just make sure that anger isn’t misdirected – don’t be mad at yourself.

Feel free to add anything else before we wrap up <3

My favourite Mary Oliver poem:

*“We shake with joy, we shake with grief.

What a time they have, these two

Housed as they are in the same body.”*

Thank you to Madge for bringing us this story.

Check it out at this link and be sure to follow along with her journey at @madgetable and @projectmashed on both Instagram and TikTok!

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