Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey) holding a book about songs in her hand on 'The Last of Us'

‘The Last of Us’ Showed My Ultimate Survival Tool

If you know, you know.

Life in a post-apocalyptic world can be scary. Sometimes you have zombies or fungus-infected creatures coming after you. The weather is hard to predict and usually harsh. Other humans have formed raider factions to come and take supplies from anyone they can strong-arm. Everyday survival items like food, shelter, and clothing may be scarce. It’s a lot to deal with.

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Some shows and movies of this genre have slid in other hard-to-find items that many modern humans depend on, such as toilet paper, into the story. An episode of The Walking Dead also had supply runners looking for pregnancy tests and condoms. There has been one item in particular that I have long argued should be part of any post-apocalyptic show or real-world survival kits. Leave it to one of the best shows on TV, The Last of Us, to finally talk about menstrual cups.

The period problem

When I first read Lord of the Flies, I was in sixth or seventh grade, right around the same time I had my first period. Reading the book I kept thinking what if this was about a bunch of stranded girls instead of boys? Some of them would have had a period by that age and they would deal with an entirely different set of problems. Yeah, in Lord of the Flies there is a power struggle and horrific violence, but what would they do if they were bleeding? And cramping? Ralph didn’t know how good he had it.

It might be a weird thing to obsess over, but since then, the period problem in a survival scenario has haunted me. Everyone thinks of food, water, and shelter. Would people (besides me) think about grabbing pads or tampons on a supply run? Let’s say you had a good stock of period supplies before the world went crazy. How many of them could you feasibly tote around with you? They take up a lot of space and are one-time-use items, so would someone would cast them aside in favor of canned food or water bottles?

Years ago, I found the solution to my worries: the Diva Cup, one of the most popular brands of menstrual cups. I feel like menstrual cups are like this well-kept secret that only a few of the initiated talk about openly. I realize menstrual cups may not be for everyone who has a period. It may be uncomfortable or taboo for some folks. However, if you like them, they change your life. Right now they are being used to help combat period poverty in remote areas of the world. They are compact, reusable, and can be left in for up to twelve hours. Perfect for the menstruator in a post-apocalyptic world!

Ellie Williams with her menstrual cup in 'The Last of Us'
(HBO)

During Episode 3 of The Last of Us, Ellie spotted a box of tampons in a small store Joel had assured her had nothing of value in it. Ellie’s excitement over the period supplies made me start thinking about the old period problem again. Would that remote gas station carry any menstrual cups for her to find? Probably not. In this week’s episode, “Kin,” Ellie and Joel arrived in Jackson, Wyoming. The town settlement is as close to our current reality that the show has depicted so far. Ellie gets to take a hot shower and the leader of the town, Maria (Rutina Wesley) left Ellie fresh clothing. Amongst the clothing was none other than a menstrual cup! FINALLY!!!

Judging from the shape of the cup and font on the instructions, it may have been my beloved Diva Cup (although I’m not 100% sure). It confused Ellie at first, but understanding came soon enough. And then excitement because now she didn’t need to hunt down boxes of tampons in basements crawling with infected. She had a small tool that can help her through her already tough life. Everyone, take note and put a menstrual cup in your survival/emergency kits. Odds are at least one person in your group will thank you for this.

(featured image: HBO)


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Author
D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.