Chris Bobel, PhD: Menstruation – The Year in Review

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Chris Bobel, president of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research and I had so much fun on this podcast. Who would have thought that we would have been talking about menstruation – (well, I always talk about that) but extolling the virtues of this natural cycle? Noting how many times the “menstruation” and menstrual activism made it into the national media? The tides (of red) are changing. Women and men are finally beginning to understand that this natural cycle that we have been told to ignore and deny – to be ashamed of is making a comeback. I really should have created a mock up of a Time magazine cover for this show. Next year!

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Chris Bobel, PhD: Menstruation – The Year in Review
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Podcast begins @ 7 pm ET – 4 pm PT and can be listened to anytime past air time.
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My colleague, Chris Bobel is one of the most articulate feminist scholars I have ever interviewed. We both chuckled over the title of this article – imagining that one day Time Magazine 12.12.15 Cosmo timelinewill pick up on the topic of menstruation and do a cover story! But this time it was not Time Magazine – it was Cosmopolitan that shook things up with their article when they dubbed 2015 as the year the period went public.

Emmet Brown wrote a commentary, called “Menstrual taboo: The red cloth” about this in the Sentry Review citing a menstrual revolution unfolding in the United States. The Guardian also picked up on this – albeit over Donald Trump’s comment to Fox’s Megan Kelly, in the first Republican presidential debate in August.

Bring on the menstruation revolution: ‘Donald Trump is going to bloody love it’

A ‘freebleeding’ marathon runner, a zine celebrating periods and the #JustATampon campaign: women are fighting back against the need to be discreet. It’s time (of the month) to break stigma and change how we talk about periods

Periods hurt in so many ways. First there’s the bleeding, cramps, sore breasts, swollen belly, hormonal shifts, dizziness, headaches and the pain of parting with at least a few quid a month on sanitary products taxed as though they’re a luxury, not a basic human right. Then there’s the stigma, which some might say is the sorest part of all. It begins with language: the “discreet” sanitary towels, “invisible” wings and “cotton-fresh” pantyliners. It continues with shame, symbolised by the cool blue stream of liquid we apparently seep from our sweet-smelling vaginas. And the view – held so long we’ve forgotten how dangerous it is – that the process of shedding the lining of our womb once a month makes us mad, bad, dirty.

Now to Donald Trump for the latest installment of period-shaming. Last week, the real-estate mogul and Republican frontrunner was taken to task by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during the first TV debate of the presidential race. His response? To insinuate in a CNN interview that Kelly was menstruating at the time. “You could see that there was blood coming out of her eyes,” he said. “Blood coming out of her wherever.” Trump has since insisted he was not implying Kelly had her period (he maintains he was referring to her nose) and that anyone who claims otherwise is “deviant” – which, some might say, is just heaping more shame on the shame. O, on top of calling a vagina a “wherever”. Anyway, we could be here all day … The response, at least, has been uncharacteristically out and proud for a subject usually obscured by adverts featuring women laughing while star-jumping in white skinny jeans: a Twitter hashtag – #PeriodsAreNotAnInsult – used to tweet Trump with details of individuals’ monthly flows, and a perfectly pitched Buzzfeed list: “17 times Donald Trump was TOTALLY on his period.”Source

Chris Bobel, PhD

Chris Bobel, PhD

As I mentioned to Chris in our prerecord of the podcast last week,  I never thought I would be listening to a presidential debate – Republican debate for that matter and the two topics that interest me the most menstruation and vaccination were both brought up in the same night.

The deal is that the shame and stigma surrounding menstruation is changing. I think some of that is in part due to the new generation of feminists who are demanding body literacy and who are open and honest about this monthly phenomena that is foundational to women’s heath – a vital sign of their health status. All of this at the same time there is growing awareness about the dangers of hormone birth control and the side effects and deaths that too many women are experiencing.

Chris Bobel, PhD, is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA. Her scholarship lies at the intersection of social movements, gender, health and embodiment, or how feminist thinking becomes feminist doing at the most intimate and immediate levels. She is the author of The Paradox of Natural Mothering, New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation and co-editor of Embodied Resistance: Breaking the Rules, Challenging the Norms. Her current project is an ethnographic study of menstrual health campaigns targeting school girls in the Global South. Chris is  President of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR) and was the co-chair of the 21st biennial meetings of SMCR to be held this June in Boston. www.menstruationresearch.org #SMCR2015 #menstruationmatters

For those of you who are not familiar with the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, this is a short You Tube with the founding mothers. I have mentioned SMCR many, many times and am honored to be a member and stand with these menstrual advocates.

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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.