Kit Steinkellner
February 06, 2015 6:05 am

So you want to eradicate gender-oriented stigmas, but you’re still stuck in high school. Not a problem. If you’re a girl who can code, you can start by creating a GAME that totally challenges how people think about women’s health.

At least that’s what teen tech mavens Sophia Houser, 17, and Andrea Gonzales, 16, did after they met at a “Girls Who Code” summer program. For their final project, The Verge reports, Houser and Gonzales created “Tampon Run” a gaming app intended to transform menstruation from a stigmatized bodily function into a straight-up superpower.

Here’s how “Tampon Run” works: Styled like 8-bit video games (think SUPER old-school Mario Bros) you play a ponytail-sporting girl who destroys her enemies by throwing tampons at them. If your enemies pass you by, they will confiscate your tampons. This detail is a sly reference to a 2013 incident in which Texas State Troopers confiscated tampons as “potential projectiles” from women attempting to enter the Texas State Capitol to observe a vote on abortion restrictions, meanwhile letting visitors carrying firearms walk right on through.

“Tampon Run” has made such an impact that Houser and Gonzales ended up working with Pivotal Labs to release a tricked-out iOS version of the game, now available on an iPhone near you.

So why make a video game about periods in the first place? The girls wanted to, as Gonzales explains “destigmatize menstruation.”

“The menstrual taboo is a problem,” Houser explained at a TEDx talk that she and Gonzales recently delivered. “It teaches women that a normal, natural bodily function, something most women get for a majority of their lives is embarrassing, crude and shameful. It teaches women not to appreciate something that embodies their womanhood.”

Their secondary goal in developing this game was to try to get more girls to join Team Coders. “Tampon Run fits into a much larger ‘what if’ than just ‘What if there were no menstrual taboo,'” Houser tells us in the girls’ TEDx talk. “What if there were more women in technology, engineering new hardware, and coding new software?”

Gonzales then threw down some hard numbers: “Statistically, in a room of 25 engineers, only 3 are women. Even though 60% of college graduates are female, only 20% of all computer science majors are women.”

“It’s so important that girls learn how to code,” Houser insists. “Because coding is empowering. First empowering because it makes you feel successful. . .but coding is also empowering because you get to build something from nothing.”

“We’re here to show how awesome and creative and empowering coding was for us and how creative and empowering coding can be for girls everywhere,” Gonzales concludes.”

Here’s to young women like Gonzales and Houser blazing the trail for more girl coders to follow.

(Images via iTunes and YouTube)

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