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:Read More
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:Read More
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.
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).
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."
Despite telling myself that I'd find a way stay involved in the world of critical thinking and writing, I've pretty much avoided anything academic since leaving grad school almost four years ago. There was (lolz: IS) so much complex emotional and psychological angst tied up in that world for me and I couldn't figure out how to get around it. Even the smallest foray back towards grad student-adjacent activities triggered intense impostor syndrome, regret, and anxiety. So, I avoided it. Like you do.
This week, however, I'm making a small step (okay, probably an inadvisably dramatic and dangerous leap) back towards that lost world. When I was in graduate school, I took several classes through the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies, which is a really fantastic Boston-area resource (if you're a Boston-area grad student with even the slightest interest in gender and sexuality studies, you really need to know about it). The GCWS sponsors a few classes every semester, and the classes are always team-taught, interdisciplinary, and informed by a variety of feminist pedagogical approaches. The classes that I took covered American Women's Biography, Body Narratives in Popular Film, and Motherhood/Mothering. This year, the GCWS started running a new kind of "micro-seminar," a set of short, ungraded, graduate-level discussion-based classes. On a whim, I wrote to ask if I was eligible to participate as a GCWS alumna, and that's how I ended up signed up for five weeks of Critical Menstruation Studies.Read More
I have been having trouble motivating myself to write because Everything Is Awful and why blog in the face of all that, right?, but I figure the least I can do is throw a tiny thimbleful of positivity onto the dumpster fire of our current world and hope it helps someone, somewhere feel just one second of happiness. So, here are some things that don't suck.Read More
Time for Part 2 of my end-of-year, best-of-2016, share-all-the-things lists! This part is more specific-experience focused but hopefully still includes things that you can seek out and take part in or try out yourself (some more easily than others, to be fair).Read More
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!Read More
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.Read More