'This is absurd': Outrage as a man is appointed the first 'period dignity officer' in Scotland

Jason Grant's appointment as a period dignity officer in Scotland has sparked outrage.
Jason Grant's appointment as a period dignity officer in Scotland has sparked outrage.   -   Copyright  Grainger PR
By Nicole Lin Chang

The appointment of a man as Scotland’s first “period dignity officer” has sparked outrage, with critics calling the news "absurd".

Jason Grant was announced as the period dignity officer for the Tay region in a role believed to be the first of its kind, after Scotland became the first country in the world to protect the right to free period products in law.

But his appointment has sparked a backlash, with critics saying the job should have gone to a woman instead.

Tennis star Martina Navratilova called the news "ridiculous," writing in a tweet: "Have we ever tried to explain to men how to shave or how to take care of their prostate or whatever?!? This is absurd".

Susan Dalgety, a columnist for The Scotsman newspaper, told Sky News the appointment "takes mansplaining to a new level".

"Jason has said being a man will help him reduce stigma and that it is time to normalise topics like menstruation and menopause,” she told the broadcaster.

"Periods are normal life for women, we don't need some bloke in a blood red polo-shirt raising our awareness”.

'Priority of having women in these posts'

When asked about Grant’s appointment in an interview with Sky News, the Scottish National Party’s leader at Westminster Ian Blackford said it would be better to have women in these roles.

"I think it's important that we get the policy right, I think it's important that we implement it and I would have thought, as a principle, it would be far better that women are in these posts than anyone else,” he told the broadcaster.

"It's a policy that we should all be proud of. At the end of the day, I think there should be a priority of having women in place in these posts".

Grant previously worked in tobacco sales, as a personal trainer, and as a student wellbeing officer with Dundee and Angus College.

In his new role as Period Dignity Regional Lead Officer for the Tay Region, he is expected to lead a regional campaign across schools, colleges and wider communities to promote access to free period products, raise awareness of the new legislation, and ensure that Scottish Government funding is allocated appropriately.

Grant was the 'best candidate for the job'

The Period Dignity Working group, which has representatives of Dundee and Angus College, Angus Council, Dundee City Council, and Perth College, said Grant was the strongest candidate for the job.

"The role builds on some fantastic work which has been gathering speed across the Tay region for several years, led by a passionate group of people of all genders, ages and backgrounds," a spokesperson said.

"With all partners in the working group Equal Opportunities Employers, Jason was the strongest candidate".

"By changing the culture, encouraging debate and removing the stigma around periods, we look forward to supporting the delivery of this important work across the region," the spokesperson added.

At the time of his appointment, Grant said that he wanted to prove that period dignity and related issues were not just a "female topic".

"I think being a man will help me to break down barriers, reduce stigma and encourage more open discussions,” he said in a statement announcing his appointment. “Although affecting women directly, periods are an issue for everyone".

"We’ll also raise awareness of the menopause, which, although a natural process for women, has wider repercussions in the world of work and family," he added.

"It’s time to normalise these topics and get real around the subject. I believe I can make progress by proving this isn’t just a female topic, encouraging conversations across all genders and educating and engaging new audiences".

New legislation came into force in Scotland on Monday protecting the right to free period products in law.

The Period Products Act 2021 means that local authorities and education providers in Scotland now have a legal duty to provide free period products to anyone who needs them.