Critical Menstruation Studies, Week 5: Stand Up, Fight Back

Critical Menstruation Studies, Week 5: Stand Up, Fight Back

This is the fifth in a five-week series of posts recapping a micro-seminar I'm taking on Critical Menstruation Studies through the Boston-area Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies.

Last week we had the final meeting of our micro-seminar. The theme for the week was "Resistance to the Menstrual Status Quo" and it seemed designed to give a hopeful, progressive view for future work and activism (and to trouble them, naturally). Of course, it also ended up being a general wrap-up of the course. Most everyone agreed that we wished we had more time to tackle all the complex issues that we were just starting to get a handle on, but that's something I've felt at the end of most classes I've taken, not just those that only lasted a total of 10 hours. In any case, here's what we read for the last day:

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Critical Menstruation Studies, Week 4: What If You Could Just Stop Menstruating?

This is the fourth in a five-week series of posts recapping a micro-seminar I'm taking on Critical Menstruation Studies through the Boston-area Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies.

I have been sick with a gross spring cold and also (appropriately) laid out with terrible cramps, so this is a little delayed (in fact, we just had our last class this week), but I'm making good on my goal to write up every week of the course. The theme for week 4 was "The End of Menstruation?" (yes, question mark and all). The readings focused on menstrual suppression practices and various ways to think about them. And ho boy, is this a loaded topic. We read:

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Critical Menstruation Studies, Week 3: #periodtwitter and a SURVEY!

Critical Menstruation Studies, Week 3: #periodtwitter and a SURVEY!

This is the third in a five-week series of posts recapping a micro-seminar I'm taking on Critical Menstruation Studies through the Boston-area Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies.

The theme of this week's class was "Representing the Menstrual Cycle." The readings covered a pretty wide range of topics:

  • "Construction of Negative Images of Menstruation in Indian TV Commercials," an article from the journal Health Care for Women International (2012);
  • "Menopausal and misbehaving: When Women 'Flash' in Front of Others," a chapter from Embodied Resistance: Challenging the Norms, Breaking the Rules (2011), a collection co-edited by the seminar instructor, Chris Bobel; 
  • and a piece by Leslie-Jean Thornton on representation of menstruation on Twitter, "'Time of the Month' on Twitter: Taboo, Stereotype and Bonding in a No-Holds-Barred Public Arena," published in the Sex Roles journal in 2011.
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Critical Menstruation Studies, Week 2: Menstruators and Period Power (?)

Critical Menstruation Studies, Week 2: Menstruators and Period Power (?)

This is the second in a five-week series of posts recapping a micro-seminar I'm taking on Critical Menstruation Studies through the Boston-area Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies.

For week two of the seminar, the stated topic was "Experiencing the Menstrual Cycle." This took the form of readings on the embodied experience of particular groups of menstruators: religious women, masculine of center people and transgender women, and women in relationships (in the context of PMS). Here are the readings:

  • A fact sheet published by The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, "The Menstrual Cycle: A Feminist Lifespan Perspective";
  • Two articles from Sex Roles: A Journal of Research: "Restriction and Renewal, Pollution and Power, Constraint and Community: The Paradoxes of Religious Women's Experiences of Menstruation" by Nicki C. Dunnavant and Tomi-Ann Roberts (2013) and "PMS as a Gendered Illness Linked to the Construction and Relational Experience of Hetero-Femininity" by Jane M. Ussher and Janette Perz (2013);
  • and an article from Culture, Health, and Sexuality, Joan Chrisler et al.'s "Queer Periods: Attitudes Toward Experiences with Menstruation in the Masculine of Centre and Transgender Community" (2016).
  • We also watched short videos on the impact of menstruation in the homeless population (although the video didn't address the intersection of trans issues and homeless issues in this arena, which seems like a strange omission given the high rates of homelessness among trans youth, especially) and women soldiers (fair warning, this is a very weird and problematic video).
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Critical Menstruation Studies, Week 1: Binaries, Vocabulary, and Controversial Norwegian Sex Ed Videos

Critical Menstruation Studies, Week 1: Binaries, Vocabulary, and Controversial Norwegian Sex Ed Videos

This is the first in a 5-week series of posts recapping a micro-seminar I'm taking on Critical Menstruation Studies through the Boston-area Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies.

The first session of the seminar was dedicated to the topic of "Conceptual Frameworks: Stigma, Disciplined Bodies and Commodification." Here's a list of the readings:

  • A chapter entitled "Feminist Engagements with Menstruation" from the instructor, Chris Bobel's, book New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation (2010);
  • "Technology and Passing," a chapter from Sharra Louise Vostral's book Under Wraps: A History of Hygiene Technology (2011);
  • "The Menstrual Mark: Menstruation as Social Stigma," an article by Ingrid Johnston-Robledo and Joan Chrisler from the scientific journal Sex Roles (2013); 
  • and Gloria Steinem's fairly famous 1978 piece from Ms., "If Men Could Menstruate."
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2016 #topcats

2016 #topcats

In an attempt to spread more joy this holiday season, here is a post entirely made up of pictures I took of cats (mostly my cats, Carol Kaye and her sister, Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad) over the last 12 months. Chessie never met a box or box-shaped object she didn't love, and all my relatives only have black cats, because we are witches. Cats are the best. Happy Kittymas and Hanukkat to all!

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Listen to This: 2016 in Review

As a follow-up to my 2016 #top, part 1 post, I made a playlist of my favorite new songs of 2016 to share with you all. I have been a big fan of making playlists since the mixtape days of my youth, but I feel like I’ve gotten a little out of the habit in its purest form now that everything is digital and therefore of pretty much unlimited length. Most of the “playlists” I currently have on my Spotify are more rambling, stream-of-consciousness mood soundtracks rather than carefully curated sonnets on particular subjects. But I tried to actually limit this one: It’s just 20 songs, and I even spent some time arranging the songs and thinking about the musical flow. It contains only songs from 2016 releases, and only my true favorites. There’s at least one track from each of my favorite 2016 albums, as listed in my previous post, with the obvious exception of Beyoncé, since Lemonade is famously not on Spotify. I think listening to this will give you a pretty good idea of the types of genres, sounds, and voices that make me happy.

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