Library Unit 4 – Fun with Menstruation
“A Women’s Curse?”
Meredith F. Small
The Sciences, Jan/Feb, 1999 p. 24-29
The bulk of Small’s article discusses the work of UofM anthropologist Beverly Strassmann’s study of menstruation among the Dogon of West Africa. What she was seeking was the possible roles that menstrual taboos could play into “natural fertility” populations. Strassmann believed that there were important biological roles being generally ignored, in regards to menstruation and reproduction.
The Dogon worked out to be a very good choice for study. The Dogon women spend their menstrual cycle segregated to the menstrual huts. Through urinalysis Strassmann determined that this segregation was closely adhered, in spite of most of the women finding the experience extremely unpleasant. This made it very easy to follow the cycles of the women in the villages Strassmann was studying. And with nearly two years of data on 477 complete cycles, studying ninety-three women, there was a great deal to work with.