Hema is a tongue-in-cheek speculative product design that examines the stigma surrounding period blood.
Made in partnership with Ava Burke
Together we created a speculative product that would "weaponize" period blood for defense and designed a series of advertisements for it.
Ava and I created Hema as a project for our Alternate Futures class at Parsons. We wanted to design something light and playful that would poke fun at some of the heavy social imbalances experienced in our society.
The burden of defense has always been placed on the victims, so why not turn that about and weaponize the very substance we are stigmatized for, our period blood, against the aggression threatening us?
Blood is so accepted – and even exalted – in the realm of male violence like that found in video games, action movies, etc. Hema utilizes that. Key concepts we worked with:
1. De-stigmatization of Periods
2. Blood vs. Blood & Acceptability
3. Normalization of Masculine Violence
4. Violence Against Women
5. Burden of Defense Placed on Women
We took all of these ideas and developed a conceptual product called Hema, from the Greek root word for blood, that would bring our own natural biological functions into the realm of self-defense.
Branding for this hypothetical product centers around the shifting colors of blood itself – sometimes bright, sometimes deep red – with bold color highlights as contrast.
The logo and spokeslizard is a horned lizard, one of the genus Phrynosoma who can shoot blood from their eyes in the presence of threats. Appropriate.
With a simple three step process to Collect, Transfer, and Defend, with Hema you can shoot the stigma and defend yourself in one go.
We used a small, hand-held nerf gun to mock up a physical prototype of the Hema product, and it brought another dimension and sense of fun to our presentation, helping us achieve that tongue and cheek feel.
As part of the main goal of de-stigmatization and in counter to the pervasiveness of the need for self defense, we created a targeted ad campaign for those with periods.
The ads would grace subways, bus stops, and billboards for maximum views in the very situations in which the product would be needed.
Ads feature all types of people who bleed monthly, with bright & excited "testimonials" to further normalize this completely normal bodily function.