Cover of

If you want to learn everything there is to know about periods, I highly recommend reading Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim. It's not your typical book on periods. This informative and colorful book examines the historical progress, and/or lack of progress in regards to menstruation in American culture.

In the first chapter, the authors discuss what they didn't already know when researching on the topic of menstruation. These discoveries include:

1. Your period on the pill isn't reallly a period. 2. Doctors once stimulated patients to clitoral orgasms as treatment for hysteria. 3. Bloodletting came about to mimic menstruation, which was seen as a way to relieve bodies of noxious blood. 4. Hormone replacement drugs are made from the urine of pregnant mares. 5. There's a thriving menstrual porn industry.

The authors illustrate how taboo it still is to openly discuss menstruation in a serious way. Why is this? One reason, the authors contend, is due to "centuries of calculated shame, moderated by money--with a dash of internalized objectification thrown in for good measure--as well as a genuine, centuries-old fear and suspicion of female body processes" (8). Yep, that sounds about right.

Though the primary focus is on period advertising within American media, there are also tidbits sprinkled throughout giving insight to other cultural behaviors regarding menstruation. Some of these include how people refer to menstruation. Oh, let me count the ways...

Netherlands De Tomatensoep Is Overgekookt (The Tomato Soup is Overcooked)

Brazil Estou com Chico (I'm with Chico)

China Little Sister Has Come

Latin America Jenny Has a Red Dress On

Austraila I've Got the Flags Out

Denmark Der Er Kommunister i Lysthuset (There Are Communists in the Funhouse)

Ireland I'm Wearing a Jam Rag

England I'm Flying The Japanese Flag

Japan Ichigo-chan (Little Miss Strawberry)

France Les Anglais sont Arrives! (The English Have Arrived!)

Germany Die Waldbeerfrau Kommit (The Cranberry Woman is Coming) Ihren Kram Haben (Have Your Trash)

Puerto Rico Te canto el gallo? (Did the rooster already sing?)

South Africa Granny's Stuck in Traffic

The reality is, for whatever reason, our world is uncomfortable discussing menstruation--or anything as it pertains to women and their bodies. Honestly, people need to just get over it. All women bleed at some point in their lives. It shouldn't be an embarrassment, or shame, as we have been taught it is for centuries.

I enjoy getting my period for various reasons. I understand that not every woman feels this way due to pain during menstruation, etc, but I really can't stand how advertisements assume all women hate their periods, and continue to call it, "the curse." It's not a curse. Also, it's a normal occurrence for most women, so can we stop acting like it's abnormal?

And, yes, some language surrounding periods is cute and kitch, but can we all just call it what it is? Let's stop beating around the bush--it's a PERIOD, it's MENSTRUATION, and let's stop it with the ridiculous advertisements showcasing a mysterious blue liquid--as I'm sure we all know that's not what comes out of us ;)

In any case, I highly recommend Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation.

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