Women and Menstruation – Falling Down the Snake Hole

Leslie Carol Botha: This is the paragraph in Chris Bobel’s article that I resonate with:

Cycle stopping contraception, Liz Kissling has argued, enables a particularly new manifestation of the docile neoliberal subject. The feminine non-mensturating body, is not, as popularly believed, liberated, but rather, one held even tighter to the hegemonic male standard. Place this compliant amenorrheaic body in the context of the military and a curious paradox is revealed. The submissive soldier? The docile woman packing an assault rifle? Really? Seems both oxymoronic, and hardly like a gain in the fight for women’s equality.

Women need to re-evaluate how menstruation is viewed… and really start looking long and hard at what synthetic contraception is doing to our minds and bodies. It seems to me that the very birth control we fought to have the right to – is now being used to control us. Think about it.

Archaic views of menstruation and how women are perceived keep us victimized and sexualized. Menstruation is where our power lies. That is what we need to remember.

#Making Menstruation Matter For All The Wrong Reasons

Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

re: Cycling
by Chris Bobel
April 15, 2013

Oops!

Somebody fell in it.

And by it I mean the tired old WomenCan’tDoStuffBecauseTheyAreWomen pit–a veritable snake hole crawling with misogynists, essentialists, and old school protectionists.

Image adapted from public domain photo // Design by Anne Bobel Zelek [Actual menstrual status of shooter unknown. That's the point, people. You can't tell]

Image adapted from public domain photo // Design by Anne Bobel Zelek
[Actual menstrual status of shooter unknown. That's the point, people. You can't tell]protectionists.

Terri Proud, a newly hired Administrative Assistant in the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, landed in the pit recently when she (allegedly) made comments about women’s menstrual cycles in combat. She was fired, and her boss, Colonel Joey Strickland, was asked by the Arizona governor to resign (apparently, Strickland hired Proud against the Governor’s wishes).

According to the Arizona-Sonora News Service, when asked about women serving on the front lines, Proud said “Women have certain things during the month I’m not sure they should be out there dealing with….”

Proud says she was misquoted. Was she or wasn’t she? Even if the quote is verbatim, I struggle to imagine a government official’s capacity to register the absurdity of this comment, but maybe I am just cynical. Suffice it to say, there is surely more to this obviously political here, but I’d like to focus on the menstrual dimension.

The assumptions about what women can and cannot do while menstruating make for a long and logic-defying list. The rationale for menstrual prohibitions is sometimes religious (e.g., bans on menstruating women from religious rites, sex, and food preparation). There’s another category of no-nos beyond the menstrual taboo, though. Women can’t do [fill in the blank] because their periods render them incapacitated or otherwise put them at risk. Many people still believe a woman should not camp or hike in bear infested woods because their menstrual odor will render them bear bait. Not true. Often, women themselves are constructed as the predators during their PRE-menstrual period. You know….PMSing women are dangerous, even potentially homicidal. And women can’t be trusted to make decisions (or serve on the Supreme Court) because they are Out Of Control.

But we know differently. Women—during all phases of the menstrual cycle—can do all manner of things, all the time, thank you very much, including jobs that are not, shall we say, menstrual management-friendly. They fight forest fires. They collect data in remote field sites. They orbit space. They perform brain surgery.

Read full article…

PG

Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.