Flow: A Cultural History of Menstruation

In my opinion, all women and the men who want to relate to women benefit from understanding the menstrual process. This book is a great introduction to the subject and has many amazing illustrations.

Here is a brief except:

… It’s downright bizarre that what’s called ‘discussion’ about this most complex yet universal of processes (menstruation) has become one almost completely moderated by business and medicine. We’ve been taught our talking points by people who are frankly far more concerned with their bottom line than with any of those pesky questions we might have.

Hey, look– we’re not saying that the pharmaceutical companies and femcare manufacturers are evil per se, or that their decisions are necessarily driven by some deep-seated misogyny or sexism. But business is business, and as of 2001, the so-called feminine hygiene business was a cool $2 billion industry– and that’s just for the products themselves, not including related drugs or advertising.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, our relationship to menstruation is one that has been brokered not in our homes, but at the supermarket, the pharmacy, and the doctor’s office. The conversation about menstruation (if you can call it that) is strictly one-sided and has been co-opted by big business, with a little help from religion, history and society… and boy oh boy, do they have a lot to say.

So what can we do?

We can start by setting aside all the judgement and reexamining some of those crazy-making questions we’ve been ordered by society to be obsessed with since girlhood. (Do I smell? Does my pad show? Am I leaking? Did Harry from Accounting notice when the tampon fell out of my handbag?) How about we start asking other questions that are a lot more relevant to our lives today, like: Am I healthy? Is what I am experiencing normal? Am I making the right choices for my body, my love life, my lifestyle, my planet? What’s right for me? Am I teaching my daughters, my granddaughters, my kid sister good lessons about being a woman?…..

This is just a brief excerpt from the wonderfully illustrated book Flow: A Cultural History of Menstruation.

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