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Here you'll find letters from the News pages, except for those commenting mainly on menstrual cups, which are here, and certain critical letters, which are here.

The Feminine Principle

Hi there,

Just writing to tell you of my site that should be included in your links. You used to have it in the What's New but maybe it got lost

It's the Feminine Principle and it explores the relationship between women, their blood cycles and the moon, incorporating a holistic approach to the art of menstruation!

26 April 1998

"There is no statistical correlation between menstruation and bear attacks."

When I wrote Backcountry Bear Basics: The Definitive Guide to Avoiding Unpleasant Encounters (Mountaineers Books, Seattle) I wanted to end the "menstrual myth" once and for all, so it's the longest chapter in the book.

There is no statistical correlation between menstruation and bear attacks.

There's no scientific evidence that menstrual odors are more attractive than the odor of mosquito repellent. If a person slept in a tent full of fish, the attractiveness of the odor of the fish might overcome the bear's caution around the odor of humans, but menstrual odors? Mosquito repellent? A bit of hot chocolate you spilled on your shirt? No.

There's no legitimate reason for menstruating women to be concerned about bears. Enjoy the woods.

Dave Smith

5 March 1998

"She said that I was not to try something that new and experimental!"

I just wanted to thank you for making this informational site. I found it through a link from GladRags page.

It is amazing how little women will talk about menstruation! I hated tampons and pads. Then I heard about Instead and wanted to try it. I asked mom if she had seen it in the stores and she was shocked! She said that I was not to try something that new and experimental! Can you believe it! Anyway I went and got some Instead on my own and totally love them! My mom still totally refuses to consider "putting some weird plastic cup from God knows where in her body."

Anyway the site is great! It has a lot of valuable information on it! I must admit though that I was surprised a man started the museum. But anyway I just wanted to let you know that I think that the site is great I think you should keep up the good work! [Thank you, and I will!]

5 March 1998

Why Did a Man Start This Museum?

Just a word of note: you mentioned a woman had not started a museum of menstruation. No doubt it's because we LIVE IT every month, so why bother? [My thought exactly.] Just a thought. I will check it out more and let you know what I think of the rest!!

Guess somebody had to do it--why NOT a man? Maybe you would gain more of an appreciation. The comment about the idea it might have been a lesbian or a feminist would be better removed. No sense offending any women who MAY be checking out the site!! I am neither and it offended me. Just so you know.

Why Don't You Visit

Dear Mr. Finley,

I first heard of MUM several years ago and found the idea fascinating. I filed it away in the back of my brain and all but forgot, as I'm in California and can't visit.

Thank you for taking the time to put so much of the information from the museum online. Now I don't feel nearly as left out on the huge amount of information in the museum.

Also, I wanted to let you know about a new page I've created called Bleed at

It has many links to MUM, one of the best sites I've seen dealing with this subject. [Thank you!] It also features my personal menstrual diary and a place for other women and men to post their experiences. It's only a few weeks old, but I've already had so much wonderful feedback and submissions. I hope you will find the time to take a look.

Thank you again for MUM and especially for MUM online.

Menstrually Yours,

Erica Jackson

"Other culture's beliefs and approaches to things like menstruation, childbirth, etc."

Dear Mr. Finley:

Thank you for having the vision (and nerve) to create and maintain this MUM and to put info about it on the web. I'm getting my Ph.D. in history, with an emphasis on material culture. I've always wondered about things like menstruation-- not just attitudes toward it, but its material culture too. The nuts and bolts of daily living rarely make it into history books or even into the primary source documents. Your collection represents a considerable achievement. [Many thanks! It's meant to be the nuts and bolts of menstruation.]

If I ever learn anything about menstruation in Guatemala, the country I work on, I'll be sure to send it to you. I would be very interested to learn about other culture's beliefs and approaches to things like menstruation, childbirth, etc. and hope you are able to continue your work along these lines. [Your MUM has only scattered information about women's health from non-European cultures, and welcomes more from any source.]

By the way, as soon as my daughters get home from school I'm going to tell them about this museum and Web site. I think it's a terrific teaching tool. I don't suppose all parents share my view, but too bad for them. Thank goodness for the First Amendment [Hear! Hear! and See! See!], and thank you!

[In a later note the writer added: "Kids are even more embarrassed about menstruation than adults are. It's interesting: I am NOT embarrassed and have never conveyed shame, but my kids seem to have learned it anyway. I guess they get it from their friends and from the media."]

23 March 1998

"You're (gasp!) a Man"

What a great site! I was interested to read about the grief you've received for creating it, as you're (gasp!) a MAN, and therefore ought not to be interested in a natural physical process which affects 51% of the human race for ca. 30 years of their lives.

What a world. You'd think that we could be a little less goofy about something like menstruation. The shame aspect is utterly bizarre to me; however, that's at 39; I was a perfectly ashamed 12-year old, I guess.

I found you when looking for some info about chocolate cravings and menstruation. I needed a little more ammo for when I talk in person with the science editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. They printed an article about hormones' influences recently, in which they made such errors as referring to the time prior to the menstrual cycle, rather than prior to menstruation. I pointed out that the very nature of the menstrual cycle, i.e., its being continuous, meant there wasn't such a time, unless you meant "prior to the initial onset of menstruation," or menarche.

He admitted the error when he called me back, but insisted that the comment about women's craving chocolate "during menstruation" was correct; he went on to say that cravings generally started four days prior, and continued for four days into the period. Hmm. I'd said that my experience and that of other actual women with whom I'd spoken pegged the chocolate thing as a PMS [premenstrual syndrome]-related craving, and to my knowledge PMS occurs just prior to menstruation.

In thinking about this, the equally deceptive phrase "on the rag" came to mind. Clearly a lot of men assume that some women's cyclical orneriness coincides with actual menstruation; however, although cramps, inconvenience and general ickiness of bleeding (especially in the days of actual rags!) can induce crankiness, I think the worst of it is in the 10 days or so leading up to menstruation, which often means almost instant relief from bloating and tension!

I'm off to scope out the PMS sites. Thanks again for all the work on a fascinating and universal topic.


Maria Jette

p.s. Do you include that pamphlet from the Kotex folks, "Becoming a Woman"? [Not yet, but here are others.] I think most of us baby boomers got it in school, and the weird point they made -- about how it really IS all right to shower during your period -- haunts me to this day. Those must have been grim times, when women were led to believe that they shouldn't bathe during periods! Maybe it was only showers, for some inexplicable reason. The graphics were hilarious: a woman under a shower head with ice cubes coming out ("...not too cold...") and one being poached clouds of steam (". . . or too hot!").

p.p.s. I'd be pleased as punch for you to use any parts you like of my letter. You can go ahead and use my name, if you like -- I feel no need for anonymity! [See the comment at the bottom of this page about names and addresses.]

A woman friend of mine used to live in Alaska. She was in town one day and a moose was heading down the street. The male moose was only interested in the women who had their periods! She said whenever a woman had her period she would have to watch out for moose. [Here's more on menstrual odor and animals.]

In your archives, I haven't seen anything on the Playtex deodorant tampon (I don't know if it's still being made). To my memory, it was the first tampon to be advertised on TV in the US. [Apparently Rely tampon was first, at least in a limited market, and Playtex was second.] It may also have been the first with a plastic applicator. Before Rely it was the big health issue in tampons because some users had an allergic reaction to the unnecessary deodorant. Compared to toxic shock, I guess it's no big deal. [But see Congresswoman Maloney's bill at the top of this page.]

Also, down memory lane, Tampax boxes used to have plastic overwrap that you could remove and you would have a box with blue asterisks on it. This was so you could have your box out in your room or bathroom and no one would "know" what it was. They stopped that a few years ago. Interesting how perceptions change. [Yes, it is!]

22 February 1998

"and now my daughter has that chance!"

This hot off the wire:

Wonderful site!

I enjoyed it very much, as a human, a woman and an artist. I will admit, however, that I came upon your site in a quest for "weird news," and I was unsure prior to visiting the site if it was a farce or if there actually was a serious site that dealt with the menses. I (and my husband, who took the virtual tour [there are two cybertours of MUM; one static, and on the MUM site; and one video tour] with me while hanging over my shoulder exclaiming "Wow... I didn't know that," and "Darling, I'm glad you don't have to wear THAT . . .") enjoyed the fact-filled site, and am glad that you have placed this, as a subject, 'out there' on the Net.

I know that one day I will have to answer a thousand questions from my daughter on why women bleed each month, and I will be grateful that there are sites like yours to help her explore this new phase of her life (and the current phase of mine), and let her see how women have progressed in this area. I know that I had wished for a place to gather information, and answers, when I was young about this subject, and now my daughter has that chance!

Thank you. I hope to be able to visit MUM in person someday. Until then . . . .

TJ Riffle


A One, A Two: I'm a "o.b. from Muskogee . . .", "Rely on Me . . .",

This popped into my electrobox recently:


I've heard about the MUM and found your Web site via the awesome Mystery Date site. I loved your Web site and am of course dying to see the actual museum. It's a long walk from Seattle, though, and so I doubt it. I do hope you write a book at some point. What a wealth of information you have! Loved the pictures as well.

My own personal experiences with menstrual culture (besides menstruating) include researching 'menotoxin-the most toxic substance known to man' [an amazing subject, and the subject of a future MUM page] and related 'scientific' ideas about alleged menstrual toxicity and performing in a punk rock band called the Tampon Eaters, formed in 1979 in Tucson, Arizona. We were formed in part in response to the distribution of Rely tampons [and see the first article on the page] in our college dorms and in the wake of the upsurge of toxic shock syndrome. Our songs included some political ones ('Rely on Me' [!] which was about rushing unsafe products onto the market, 'o.b. from Muskogee' [!] about menstrual dread, etc). It started out as a joke and morphed into a recording and touring band called 'Conflict.' We changed our name, of course, because 'Tampon Eaters' were pretty hard to book in those days. Our first show was in a local gay drag bar called Jekyll's and involved tampon wearing and eating . . . . [!]

Later on I became a member of The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research and my proudest moment was meeting Emily Martin at the airport. "I'll be the one carrying the red flowers!" [The writer may have switched Dena Taylor with Emily Martin.] My academic interests have changed since then, but I remain fascinated with cultural productions about menstruation, and wanted you to know how much I enjoyed touring the museum and reading the articles.

Best wishes,

KKM Allman

We're Not Mum About Vacuum Cleaners!

And, last, a fellow male drops in:

Interesting . . . there really is a Web site for everything, isn't there?

Suddenly, my cyberspace vacuum cleaner museum doesn't seem quite so extraordinary anymore . . . . [No, it really is, Charlie!]

I used to hang out with a (female) rock star here in Hollywood who made all sorts of fun folk-art, including a limited edition set of customized Kotex decorated with glued-on "found" items such as jiggling baby-doll eyes, psychedelic 3-D holograms, safety pins, coins, etc. One of her most prized creations featured a 3-inch-long cockroach (deceased) which she had discovered outside on her patio.

Somewhere I still have the one she made for me. If I ever get around to digging through my boxes of "stuff" for it I'll send it to your museum, if you care to have it [Yes!]. However, the identity of the very high-profile singer will have to remain anonymous. If she found out I send it to you she'd kill me . . . .




Charlie Lester


To Your Health!

This just in:


Thanks for this great site! I'm going to add a link to the Museum of Menstruation to my new Menstruation Net links category (which I'm creating today) at Womens Health- The Mining Company

Please stop by for a visit and I'd appreciate a link from your site, as well.

Womens Health- The Mining Company features hundreds of reviewed Net links in currently 25 categories, weekly feature articles which deal with important health issues, scheduled chats, a free newsletter, and coming this week is a bulletin board where women will be able to ask questions and get answers.

Have a great day!

Tracee Cornforth

Womens Health Guide- The Mining Company

This week's feature: Cancer: Part Three- Support Services

* Subscribe to my Free newsletter!

Personal Homepages:

To Your Health Again!

This also just in:

I would love to have a link from your site to ours!!!!!!! We have pages on

- menstrual cycles

- menopause

as well as other topics not covered elsewhere. Your site is great!

Joan Schrammeck

Development Director, Feminist Women's Health Center

106 East E Street, Yakima, WA 98901

website: voice mail: 800-572-4223 x112

Abortion and birth control are powerful tools in the hands of women.


"It's about time!!!"

I really didn't pay this e-mailer to say this:

As I sat here looking over your Web site with a feeling of wonder/disgust/pride/amazement I couldn't help but think "IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!" I've often wondered what the woman of yesteryear used to conceal her monthly flow. I guess it's part of my puritanic northern Midwestern upbringing that has kept me from searching for the answers that your site has given freely. I thank you for lifting the veil of secrecy that has shrouded this subject!!!

Do You Take Me for a Fool??

This suspicious letter arrived by messenger at midnight! No, no, just kidding. I'm getting carried away.

I liked your site very much but I would have like it better if it had addressed using mind control to limit the duration of your menstruation. When I was young my mother told me that I could control it and somehow I did. I limited my cycle to three days. I felt that was long enough to stay healthy. I have since done drugs and went back to a five-day menstruation. I no longer obtain what I needed to do it again. [?] Has this area ever been explored?


2 days too long

What better reason to avoid drugs!

I'm not sure. Can anyone answer her question?

(25 Jan 98)

Did I Say That?


I saw your Web address in a magazine so I thought I would check out your site.

I was surprised to know that there was a museum on menstruation. Your sight is interesting and I hope I can visit the museum some day.

I do have doubts that any woman would enjoy wearing a washable pad---but of course you are a man, so I guess I could see why you might say that. Ha. Keep up the good work.

Men say stupid things all the time. But I'm your MUM - remember?

(25 Jan 98)

Tampactic Web Site!

This arrived from the rarefied atmosphere of Oberlin College, in Ohio (U.S.A.):

I love your Web site, and definitely plan to visit the museum in the near future. This is wonderful!

My friend Liz and I are great fans of menstruation. I made a Web site for our 'organization' called Tample Hygenica [Registrar! Their parents must be notified immediately!] a few months ago . . . suddenly, this afternoon, I was struck by the thought, "Hey - maybe there are otherTampactic Web sites out there!" So, I went to Yahoo to search. And I discovered your fabulous page. Please, do me the great favor of visiting my yet incomplete Web site. (With poetry and all...) Here is the URL:

Once again, I'd like to thank you for providing the world with a Museum of Menstruation. This is fabulous.

O Children of the Moon!! Let smiles crease your faces as your legs are slowly pulled by white-clad menstruants, singing a tune to flooded Diana, huntress of birds'-eye! Great MUM and Mack C. Padd watch, pleased, infinitely serene, seldom questioning!

You gotta see this - it's one of the funniest sites I have ever seen!!

(25 Jan 98)

Does the Moon Influence Menstruation?

A missive from Las Vegas:

Your site is downright weird. Well, I admire you for learning Norwegian, jeg snakker norsk ogsaa. (Self taught.)

Here's a question from a woman: can you tell me what the moon has to do with menstruation and how it could possibly affect when I start my period? I mean, isn't "moon" something to do with where the word menstruation originated from? Anyway, if you could add something like that to your site, it'd be cool.

Anyway, enjoyed it.

The word menses, which means menstruation, is derived from the Latin mensis, meaning months. Related words, like menstruation and menstrual, have similar origins. The connection between the moon and menstruation is probably because of the similarity of the length of the average menstrual period with the time the moon takes to go from one phase to that same phase again, although I know there are many people out there who will say the connection is tighter.

People have made this connection for millennia, and there are many beliefs in many cultures about the relationship; the topic seems endless.

This connection is vehemently denied, by the way, by the male author of a modern gynecology text I own.

The book Blood Magic:The Anthropology of Menstruation (edited by Thomas Buckley and Alma Gottlieb, University of California Press, 1988), cites studies that the authors say show that moonlight can indeed influence a menstrual cycle (for example, "Lunar periodicity in human reproduction: A likely unit of biological time," in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 77:905-914, 1959, by W. Menaker and A. Menaker; and "Lunar periodicity," in Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology 25:491-497, 1960, by C. Hauenschild.)

(25 Jan 98)

"Incredible Idea for a Museum!"

Certain mail makes me very happy:

A friend just e-mailed me your Web site address, adding, "You'll love it!" As your first page started to come up, I thought, "Oh, RIGHT! This guy is from another planet!" Then, of course, I was drawn to the "horable" letter, and I decided that while you may be from another planet, you obviously have a sense of humor. So I took the tour. What an incredible idea for a museum! There's nothing about this topic that needs to be shoved into the back of the closet -- neither (in my opinion, anyway) should it be glorified as the most fabulous mystery of life ever (puh-LEEZ). Your treatment of it as part of every culture in some form or another is exactly right.

But really, can you actually make a LIVING doing this? (More power to you if you can.)

I wish I could! See the letter below entitled What's MUM for?

(19 Jan 98)

MUM is Interesting . . .

A visitor writes:

Thank you so much.

This is the most interesting site I've ever been to. Thank you thank you and again, sincerestly, thank you.

You're sincerely welcome!

(19 Jan 98)

. . . and Has Something for Everybody

This just in:

Hi, HFinley,

I don't have much time to goof around right now, but I ran across your site in a Yahoo search of Washington, D.C., museums and galleries.

I love it!

Keep up the good work - I hope to be able to visit sometime.

I'm sure you know you have a marketing niche in the G/L/B community (I'm bi). Make sure you're seen there; you have a great thing to offer!

Thanks very much!

My fear from the beginning was that lesbians as a group would not like MUM because of who was running it: me, a heterosexual male. The Man, I guess.

I've learned a lot in the past four years, including that I can't treat people as a group. Many lesbian visitors seem to like the museum, regardless of who runs it, not that that should necessarily offend any of them anyway. And, of course, there are many heterosexuals who think MUM is awful, and that I am, too. People are different. Life is short.

While we're at it, let me say this: I know I will disappoint some readers, but I am not attracted to menstrual blood. It has always served as a good reason to avoid sex, which was the only position it occupied in my life until a few years ago, when I got interested in the whole culture of menstruation, and I decided to do something daring.

(19 Jan 98)

She Rants!

The wires are sizzling:

Thank you for the museum and the site! I found it (this site) via the BUST [magazine] Web page (

Now on to my feminist rant!

I've never tried any (either?) of the [menstrual] cups but I think I learned a lot from reading others' comments. Of course, I wish we could take care of our planet a little better. The issue of cups being messy/public restrooms is a justifiable concern, (especially under your nails - I know what this is like and this was the first thought I had when reading about the "dirty" issue), but women's fear of their own body/blood made me have fear - and anger. I can't help but think: Why don't men have this problem? They are always making references to their own bodies and women's too. If you can't live with your own blood, what can you live with? The blood IS the life, of you and fetuses. BUT if there are bacteria in that blood, I wonder how good it is to let it sit and fester - way up inside of your body? (Just a thought). But I do think that The Keeper sounds very good.

My main concern is just what the student of Chinese medicine pointed out. I think that having something pressing up on an internal body part, possibly rubbing with your movements (but I wouldn't know), crippling circulation and oxygen flow is really very scary and I'm surprised that this doesn't concern anyone, apparently. Not to mention my dismay at hearing about one of these gizmos CUTTING! Think of what would happen if a, let's see, a condom or a jock strap (?), or something, cut a men's penis! The "stronger sex" would be in a hospital for a month for reconstructive surgery!

What I've been thinking throughout every post, is just how much history there ISN'T to this issue of bleeding once a month by every woman, for how many centuries (how many months is that?)! I don't want to sound like I think that menstruation is a problem (I love it for being something that only women can experience and it is great for that!) but, yes, it is inconvenient and messy, etc., and in my tender 18 years, I am of the opinion that if it were a man's problem, it would have a fuller history, and be celebrated -- (as it is here!) not a taboo subject...that is viewed as "unclean" and everything else - you know the story. I might even get ridiculous, as is my style, and think that the (few) instruments we have, which cause toxic shock, bladder infections, that cut, suction, pull, etc., are really a conspiracy thought up by "the man"! (Don't ask)

Maybe we should go back to rolling up cloth and let those men stop collecting our money and if they don't like how big pads look, they can shove it - somewhere else! : )

"In with anger, out with love"!

I love you all! and thanks again! Take pride in your period. It's a symbol (nothing against post-menopausal women - that's a whole other subject!).

Read more of your comments about menstrual cups, and about the history of cups.

(19 Jan 98)

What's MUM for?

I received this e-mail today:

I stumbled across your Web site looking for information regarding menstruation. Perhaps there isn't a good variety portrayed on your site. However, I got the impression that your primary interest was in the things used to capture or control the menstrual flow.

If you have information regarding more of the sociological, physical and psychological sides of menstruation, I would suggest adding it to your site.

I think this could be one of the best things out there for women, since it is such a taboo subject. I have for years been curious as to why it isn't discussed in a more open manner, either by the media or the public in general.

I hope to see more helpful information on your site in the future. Or at least links, if you're not really interested in all of the aspects of a woman's menstrual cycle, to Web sites that do discuss the the areas.

Feel free to e-mail me back and let me know what your plans are. I'd love to forward this site to some younger women who aren't very informed, but I hesitate to do so until I feel they can learn more that is applicable to their daily lives.

In the end, I appreciate that you have the courage to do this in the first place and I hope that you won't be discouraged when you're looked upon as a sort of odd person because of it. Unless you are odd, in which case, I just hope you keep it all respectable.

I e-mailed this reply:

I appreciate your comments.

Before I started the museum over three years ago, and the site almost two years ago, I researched the concept of a museum. Museums show things and processes involved in the subject in question, which in this case is menstruation. I knew there would be criticism when I showed these items, many of them sent to me from around the world. People are not used to seeing or talking about them.

Although publications are the traditional source for the information you are looking for, there are several Web sites supplying such information, some of which I have linked to the MUM site, and which are scattered in the News sections, which go back over a year. In these news sections, I have also talked about menstrual odor, PMS, medication for depression, treatment for excessive bleeding, conditions necessary for menstruation, abortion, etc.

What I hope to do soon is collect these sites and put them on the NetConnect page, which already exists, but which I haven't updated for months. (I also need to update the Index to News page.)

The reason I have not done more of this, although I will continue to do so to the extent I can, is that I have decided to concentrate on things people cannot easily see elsewhere, rather than repeat information found on other sites, on TV or radio, or in publications. The reason is time; with rare exceptions, I work on the site and museum only weekends, and I do it free, on my own time. Weekdays I have a money-earning job totally unrelated to the museum and site.

For the same reason, I seldom repeat health news available elsewhere, although I would like to very much. This three-day weekend, for example, I have spent over forty hours conducting visitors through the museum, answering e-mail and putting together the Web site. It is a colossal amount of time to be working free. But I thought hard about it four years ago and decided that it was worth the time - as a matter of fact, the rest of my life.

What I hope is that one or more people would be interested in contributing to the site. But it IS time consuming, and I don't expect too much, especially when I cannot pay.

Again, I appreciate your comments, and I will try to expand the amount of information I offer!

(11 Jan 98)

"On the Destinies of Humanities Majors"

The above phrase entitled this e-mail sent to me recently:

Dear Mr. Finley,

I was surfing the 'Net and happened to stumble on your Web page. First, thanks for having the guts to pursue such a topic. With one exception, all of my friends are guys, and from now on I will refer them to your page when I get my monthly chocolate cravings instead of trying to explain to them the intricacies of the reality of being female.

Also, I'm a senior in high school, and I was expecting to major in philosophy and classics in college. While I think running a museum is something I could live with, please tell me that this is not necessarily my fate as one of those poor humanities majors still paying off loans twenty years after graduating [!].

Anyway, keep up the good work. I'm going to tell my friend to take a visit, since she lives on the East Coast, and get me a postcard [actually, I only have MUM t-shirts right now].

Hey, Gloomy Gus, let's turn that frown upside down!

The writer must have read the second part of the MUM FAQ, in which I explain that starting a museum of menstruation was the only thing left for me to do after having majored in philosophy in college. Of course, I was kidding!

Just imagine thousands of museums of menstruation around the world, run by impractical philosophy majors, vying with each other to show the most pads and underpants and enraging right-wing groups afraid for the future of their countries!

No, you must try something else!

Someone working in a museum in New York told me that many art museum curators she knows were philosophy majors, and I once read that the president of a large, famous corporation, a woman, was a French major, not too different from studying philosophy, when you think about it. And one of my brother's bosses, an Army general, majored in clarinet, of all things. Did he get interested in the military while marching in the halftime band?

This discussion reminds me of the Car Talk Guys' harassment of art history majors on Public Radio. But being put down was never so much fun!

I majored in philosophy to learn if God existed. I left college no more or no less convinced of His existence - I think it's a matter of faith - and feeling that if a lot of very smart people couldn't agree on the answer, how was I supposed to? I feel as if I'm staring in the face of a laughing, but inscrutable, universe - at least, when I'm feeling good. When I'm feeling bad, it's still inscrutable, but whacking you and me with a thick tree branch, or worse.

MUM is not my money-making job. I work for the federal government as a graphic designer - this is not necessarily an oxymoronic, or moronic, situation - a job just as unrelated to philosophy as the ones above. It's hard to be a full-time philosopher. And it's probably not as much fun as running the Museum of - WHAT?! Or as useful!

(11 Jan 98)

Where Did Customers Find Personal Digest?

Two weeks ago I put up several leaflets published by Personal Products Company, maker of Modess pads and tampons. I didn't know where customers at the time found them. Maybe this e-mail answers the question:


Thanks for the lastest addition to the Web site . . . as always, a great job!

I remember seeing one such "Personal Digest" and it was in a box of Modess in my mother's dresser drawer. Perhaps it was packaged inside the napkin boxes . . . .

(11 Jan 98)

Pads 'n' Ads Revisited

This is hot off the wires:

I was reading your updates, and in regards to the [German] RIA panty pads, you mentioned they were in [German] magazines in 1980. You didn't mention that in the May and June [1980?] issues of many women's magazines, Kotex inserted a FREE Lightdays Oval Pads, and were the first company to place a feminine hygiene product sample for the public in a magazine. [TV] blasted [you] with commercials to find "your sample in your favorite magazine." I remember, because I bought a magazine to see one of the pads close up!

Speaking of firsts, a visitor to MUM today said that only recently has American television shown the armpit of a model when selling armpit deodorant! Normally the viewer would see the actor applying deodorant to her forearm.What's so naughty about an armpit?

And this reminds me of a recent TV ad for a hemorrhoid medication, which shows a woman sitting on an examination table buttoning her blouse. She took her blouse off to be examined for hemorrhoids? The more truthful situation, of course, is for her to be zipping up her pants, but that would mean that the doctor had looked at her hiney, something so outrageous and unpalatable to the imagined audience as to be truly left field. Like America. Sometimes.

(11 Jan 98)

Note That Cramps Cramp Kids' Style

A friend of MUM for the past three years, a marriage counselor in Los Angeles, sent this testimonial:

This dates from from 1950 or 1951, when I was in eighth grade. I was in Home Economics class (all girls, of course) when our teacher said that she had overheard something very bad: a girl was telling a boy she couldn't go somewhere because she had cramps.

"You should never mention cramps to boys," she warned us.

(28 Dec 97)

Judy Blume's Eternal

Do you want to write for this Web site? Submissions are welcome, such as the following offer sent last week:

Has anyone ever spoken to you about including an ode to the famous Judy Blume book "Are You There, God, It's Me, Margaret?" on your Web site? [No.]

For many young women my age (especially those of us with parents too squeamish to discuss the dreaded menses), this book gave us our first lessons in the triumphs and travails of menstruation. (Not to mention chants every girl must recite in order to fill out her bra -- "we must, we must, we must increase our bust.") I'd be happy to write it if you are interested [yes!]. . . you at least should read the book if you haven't yet [I have, and I also saw Judy Blume read part of it on the video Under Wraps, which Canadian television showed last spring; you can buy the video. She started to cry during her reading . . . .]

And you have a great Web site! My co-worker and I were howling in laughter all afternoon! [Hey, what's so funny??] We can't wait to see the real thing.

Pick a topic you know something about, or have an opinion about, and think that others would like to know. You don't have to be THE expert; it can be a personal experience - many people have told me the thing they enjoy most are the letters and stories. I reserve the right to edit, and - I'm sorry - I can't pay, right now, anyway. You may use or not use your name - your choice - and you own all rights to it.

And speaking of this age group: look at the pages dealing with the booklets for menarcheal girls and Lynn Peril's article on this site about these and similar booklets!

(28 Dec 97)

The Joke's on Me!

I just received this e-mail from a female Norwegian university student near Oslo. In my little tour of a Norwegian museum's exhibit of the history of a Scandinavian menstrual products company, I printed a joke about blondes and winged menstrual pads, but mistranslated part of it.

During my visit at your MUM pages I had much fun reading the Norwegian joke about blondes. Unfortunately, there has been a slight misunderstanding. The Norwegian word "høy" have two common meanings: "hay" and "high". The joke refers to "høy" as in "high".

Therefore, the joke goes: Why are there 10 blondes lying at the foot of a high apartment building in Stovner? They had tried Libresse [menstrual pads] with wings.

By the way, Stovner is a suburb of Oslo, known for its lower-class inhabitants.

I guess Norwegian was not that easy, after all? :-)

Hanne Wien

On that Norwegian museum tour, I had bragged about having taught myself Norwegian. Obviously, I had not learned enough!

(14 Dec 97)

Speaking of the Odor of Menstruation . . .

Last week I ran some information on the odor of menstruation. My Canadian e-mail friend, male, comments on my comments:

. . . Things that are valued have scents and things that are disvalued have odors. I.e., they stink. E.g., garbage stinks, the skunk outside my window that sprayed tonight, etc.

If women are devalued during menstruation, it is small wonder then that they have this "odor." It differentiates them, negatively.

If they are going to be negatively evaluated for several days per month, don't you think it reasonable if not downright charitable of the hygiene and cleanliness industries to help them with their problem?

I have been around women for a long time. I have not smelled the odor from them. Perhaps I don't know what the "odor" smells like, but then, the women I know bathe regularly. The only times I have ever been able to smell them is when they have used scents from bottles of expensive perfume, some of which I have given as presents.

I don't entirely agree about the negative meaning of the word "odor." Actually, I usually say "smell" for both good and bad situations, but that seems colloquial.

(14 Dec 97)

Don't Stop Writing NOW!

Ahem:This e-mail speaks for itself:

Mr. Finley,

As I finish my ten-page research paper, I decided I had best drop you a line and thank you for informing and inspiring me. First, an introduction: I am a college student who stumbled upon your Web site by accident. I was intrigued right from the very start. I gushed (no pun intended) about it to my friends, some of them male. Much to my surprise, only one responded with "I don't want to hear about it." Quite a few of my friends found your Web site to be interesting and informative and we all learned something new.

I was fascinated at how advertising reflects our taboos regarding menstruation and how the growing popularity of tampons also is reflective of our hush-hush nature. If it were socially acceptable to menstruate, women probably wouldn't worry so much about people finding out and wouldn't expose themselves to the risks. Also, if tampons prove to be a health risk, why isn't something being done about it? My research paper for English explores the connection between present-day attitudes towards menstruation and the FDA's laxity in regulating the production of tampons. It's not great but it's been interesting to research and discuss, although my family has become afraid that I'll start talking about tampons whenever I open my mouth.

I am actually thrilled that a man is running the show here - sad to say that if it were curated by a woman, she'd be accused of being some feminist weirdo. [I guess I'm just a regular wierdo.] The message I got from your museum is that menstruation isn't gross or shameful but natural and actually fascinating.

On a more personal note, my eyes have been opened - for years I have been using tampons and have been exposing myself to chemicals I definitely don't want to insert into myself 5 times a day, 60 days a year, for about 30 more years. I think it's great that you give some support to lesser-known but safer and less expensive alternative methods so that women know they aren't stuck with what's on the supermarket shelf.

Again, thank you. By the way, I love your Web page design!

There's always room on the News page for undiluted, effusive praise.

(7 Dec 97)

Did the Egyptians Invent a Menstrual Cup?

Another reader has found the secret to getting a letter printed on this page!

I am so impressed by the Web page and the idea behind the museum! I wish I could actually visit. I am just writing to ask if you are exhibiting any of the other types of menstration products, such as "Instead," the most recent addition to the market. [Yes! See Comments About Menstrual Cups and a history of the menstrual cup. I'll talk about sponges and other devices later.]

I was describing this contraption to my mother, saying how new it was, and she shocked me by telling me the ancient Egyptians also used an item like this and Jewish women saved and used their menses to remove salt deposits on boats.

Now, I have no idea if what my mother says is true, but I found it interesting and thought perhaps you would either like to hear it or would know more about these things. Thanks!

Does anyone know anything about this? According to Hippocrates (see the bottom of the page), ancient Egyptian women did use tampons - but cups?

(7 Dec 97)

Why "On the Rag" Means Menstruation

This e-mail a few days ago from North Carolina explains what many women all over the world have been doing for their periods for eons:


I stumbled over your Web site and thoroughly enjoyed perusing it!

My mother grew up in the North Carolina mountains during the 1920s and 1930s, and there was no money for any kind of disposable pads even if they could find them. She told me that each girl (or woman) had a rag collection for use during her period. You would have enough rags for three or four pads. The rags would be folded together and pinned into underwear, and later washed and hung out to dry. Between periods, they were kept in a special bag in one's underwear drawer.

This is the kind of history that most fascinates me - not wars, but the little everyday things that people did and used to make life more comfortable.


Cathy D. Wahl

The history of daily life is fascinating, and often forgotten. One of the reasons I started MUM was to preserve at least some of this history.

The black male photographer for a newspaper that visited this museum told me that he grew up in the poorest section of Chicago in the 1950s. As a boy, he saw menstrual rags on clotheslines everywhere. One "sport" he and his little friends had was to guess which women were menstruating. They thought they could tell by a bulge, underneath clothing, between a woman's legs, which would indicate a rag.

And I never knew there was such a thing as menstruation before I was twelve!

I normally do not use names of e-mailers, and never without their permission, but Ms. Wahl suggested I use hers.

(23 Nov 97)

Impurity, Infelicity, and Difference of Opinion

Last week you may have read the letter in this section objecting to some thoughts in an e-mail from Petra Habiger, a German woman interested in advising others about menstruation. Here's the salient paragraph:

By the way, I think that lady who said a woman should answer questions [in the letter "A subconscious feeling of being impure" on an earlier news page] doesn't get it about your museum. It's not a doctor's office. There's plenty of places on the Web for questions if they're personal, and if they're not, why not ask you?

Petra replied,

I am not sure that I really can understand that woman who said,

". . . doesn't get it about your museum. It's not a doctor's office."

Menstruation in my opinion does not have so much to do with sickness. You won't consult a doctor for questions about menstruation hygiene.

I think both are saying the same thing about menstruation, but they disagree about MY role; I'm a male and not a doctor of any kind.

Petra also asked me to change the headline of my printing of her e-mail to Questions of Menstruation and Menstrual Hygiene, which I have done. She wrote,

I guess "A subconscious feeling of being impure" seems to me a bit infelicitous as a headline. I can imagine that women or girls who look for answers about menstruation and menstrual hygiene won't be concerned by a topic about impurity.

(23 Nov 97)

Sonny, You Make Your MUMmy Proud . . .

This e-mail just crackled through my wire:

I'm a 20-year old male student. I'm from Portugal and I'm studying design. The reason I'm sending this e-mail is because your site helped me and my work group in a work project, the subject of which was tampons. The work was about the appearance and evolution of the tampon.

You're probably wondering what that has to do with design - so am I - but in a group you don't just do what you want!!

Anyway I had no idea that it would be so interesting . . . . Thank you and the best of luck!!

. . . and More Great Mail!

Hey! I just wanted to say that I think this page is absolutely fabulous. I visit it every time you update it. Anyhow, I'm 16 and am very interested in the menstrual cups section as I am a ballerina and a swimmer. I am interested in The Keeper but I don't know if it would fit me. I'd be interested in seeing any comments by people under 20 on using The Keeper. I don't have an e-mail address so maybe you could post any responses you get.

By the way, I think that lady who said a woman should answer questions [in the letter "A subconscious feeling of being impure" on an earlier news page] doesn't get it about your museum. It's not a doctor's office. There's plenty of places on the Web for questions if they're personal, and if they're not, why not ask you?

Again, thanks so much for your page!!

I heard about your museum through BUST magazine and today I saw the Web site for the first time . . . . In high school, friends of mine would say that we were "rafting through the rivers of red" after a line in a Slayer song.

WOW! I just saw your menstrual museum site! Great! I don't think it's weird, but then my dissertation title is: "Celebrating Menarche: A New Paradigm for Menstrual Education." Perhaps your friend on the board who is studying menarche would be interested.

I also wrote five short stories for young women: "Passages to Womanhood: Stories of Celebration for Young Women." One story is soon to be published.

Thanks for having the guts, creativity, and sense of humor for creating MUM! I also think your artwork is excellent.

(16 Nov 97)

Questions of Menstruation and Menstrual Hygiene

This week a German woman e-mailed me about the work she is doing with two others in German schools.

She also asked me about menstrual cups, and she replied to my answers with the following:

Dear Mr. Finley,

Thanks very much for your prompt reply concerning the cup, even though (please excuse me) I found it a bit disquieting that my questions were answered by a male person.

As I might not be alone with this opinion, I think it might be better that a woman responds to particular questions. I don't want to say anything against competence of men concerning menstruation in the medical or physical sense at all - but I'm not sure that a man can really understand what women feel - feel about their body and internal processes during a certain time every month.

Women and especially young girls who ask such questions do not await simply an answer.

And so it is essential that they don't get "technical" support only but rather a sensitive reaction that says: 'Yes, I know what you mean, I know about your problems, I feel the same, because I am also a woman and I can help you and advise you, because I am a woman!'

We are a group of three women who found it necessary to teach girls and women at schools and high schools and colleges the broad field of female health. We try to answer all questions women hesitate to pose. And this means especially questions concerning the health of genitalia, menstruation, menstrual products, sex education for girls (that far too often is neglected by the parents), etc. We recommend books and other literature, show pads and tampons and give instructions how to use them.

I became aware of your Museum of Menstruation through the Internet and I find it a great idea! People (female and male) should know (more) about that topic, how it was dealt with in the past, what discriminating and humiliating matter it was still or to our grandmas, what they could use, what we can use nowadays, how advertising changed through the years and became freer. Menstruation is more cushy today because of modern hygienic products and drugs against ache. The mental problem, however, can be reduced only slowly. Although we are now allowed to bath, cook, job etc. women still cannot get rid of a subconscious feeling of being impure (and that in the word's double sense of being dirty and insufficient) - apart from the undeniable relationship between a psyche which refuses menstruation (and so womankind in general) and PMS, painful or irregular periods.

Exactly because of these reasons we do our job at schools, arrange workshops in bookstores or cafes. Because of these reasons a female person should answer relevant questions.

I don't have my own homepage (I am new on the Internet) but it would really be a great pleasure for me if I can enlarge my field of activity and respond to questions female visitors of your pages pose to you.

As I said before, helping women in certain matters is part of my job and one of my hobbies. We intend to help womankind lose the feeling of being secondary and want them to accept and feel menstruation as something very natural and unique which makes us be something, particularly because we can give birth to new life!

This has nothing to do with feminism or emancipation.

If you are interested you can place a link to my e-mail address and I will answer everything a woman might ask. It would be a great honor for me and I of course would do this job honorary, free, gratis!

What do you think about it?

Petra Habiger

I am 30 years old, and I have a daughter and live in a small village in southern Germany.

She's right that I will never know what a woman feels. Why not take her up on this?

As far as running the museum is concerned, Dr. Catherine Ott, of the Smithsonian Institution and American University here in Washington, said that it might be better for a museum to be founded and run by someone for whom the subject is truly foreign (my word), because it gives an objectivity to it.

Dr. Ott and five Smithsonian Fellows visited this museum about two years ago, and she, on another occasion, cordially showed me and two doctoral candidates from England what the Smithsonian had in the way of menstrual historical material. The candidates, from the Southampton Institute, just outside London, were visiting the U.S.A. on a grant to inspect your MUM.

As I've said before, I'm just a guy!

(3 Nov 97)

Australia to Girls! Australia to Girls!

This just in:


Check out our site for young girls.

You can learn about your body, ask any curly question you might have, and lots of other fun things!

It is made by Sancella PTY Ltd in Australia - a joint venture between SCA Mölnlycke (see their exhibit!) and Carter Holt Harvey.

We sell the Libra pads and Libra Fleur tampons, which in Europe are called Libresse and o.b.Fleur.

Libragirl :)

(3 Nov 97)

Best of the Web!

Snap! Online sent this to your MUM last week:


The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health at has been named Best of the Web in the Entertainment Channel by the editors of Snap! Online. (

Few women regard menstruation as entertainment, but I like the ability of the Snap! Online editors to look on the bright side of things.

(19 Oct 97)

Why MUM Exists

I received this e-mail last week

Dear Mr. Finley [MUM founder and director],

I just wanted to take a few moments to compliment you on the MUM Web site, and for opening the museum.

I must say that I find the general attitude of society about menstruation to be rather dismaying. Your museum and the site serve a valuable purpose in educating the public and normalizing attitudes towards what is, after all, just a natural bodily function.

I was completely dumbfounded by the negative letters you received. I can't say that I understand how educating people can be termed "putting women down." To me it seems rather the opposite. By recognizing and showing exactly what it is that women experience, a forum for discussion is opened, and people can start to feel less uncomfortable about a sensitive subject. Keeping it under wraps helps no one.

Also, I found much of the information on the site to be extremely valuable. I would never have known about alternatives to disposable tampons and pads or been able to read up about cups and natural tampons and non-disposable pads if I hadn't found MUM.

It never even occurred to me that there might be other options out there and I thank you for exposing them and providing resources which answered the questions I had about the safety and viability of such products.

As for your being a guy, frankly my first thought was, "who cares?" or why would anyone care? It's great to see that there are men out there who can be sensitive and intelligent and open about women's health concerns and not blush or cringe back in fear.

I'm intrigued by MUM, and shall have to get up off my lazy bum and come visit since I live in the DC area.

Again, thank you.

(15 Sep 97)

I Want to Thank You Too

A visitor to this site from Ohio e-mailed this yesterday:

I just wanted to write and tell you thank you for your effort in creating and maintaining MUM. After viewing the website and reading the negative letters you received and then posted on the site, I just felt compelled to write and praise you. I think you deserve it for addressing this subject.

I can only say with all honestly that I wish someone had this knowledge and history to share with me when I was twelve years old. If I had a daughter nearing menstruation, I would proudly send her to this site and discuss it with her. One day I might, so please never close your site.

I'll do my best!

(7 Sep 97)

No Menses, No MUM? NO, NO!

Last week I received this ominous e-mail, although it was not composed of words cut out from an electronic newspaper :

Harry [Finley, MUM director],

This is your worst nightmare: Menopause. No more menses. It has to happen; it is inevitable. You have to face it. But menopause is where we start. We would like a reciprocal link. Check us out at


OK, OK! The future Museum of Women's Health will include permanent and temporary exhibits about menopause. MUM right now lacks space and people to do more than it's now doing, although menopause is a natural phase of menstruation. Just wait!

(1 Sep 97)

A Reader to the Rescue!

Dear Mr. Finley,

I read [a recent] article about your museum this morning. I really don't see why people react strangely to your museum. For so long people wouldn't talk about sex. Now, it's everywhere. It's a natural human function. Your museum deals with a natural human function too. I suppose those who are "horrified" at the subject material must not be too comfortable with that fact.

It's just one of those things . . . if the subject were so bad and so taboo, why do they advertise incessantly for it on TV? How to be more comfortable, the newest designs in protection, or even how to deal with the times it can get uncomfortable? I think those who have reacted negatively need to realize it's not a bad thing, it's natural, and realize there are far more traumatic subjects that could be discussed in museum detail.

Many thanks!

(1 Sep 97)

Ask About the Menstrual Ads Parody and Period Tracker from Australia

Sharon Hill writes from Melbourne, Australia, about a funny way to track your periods:

Out of the Box and on to the Wall: The Black-and-White Menstruals Agenda Sings Up a Storm

The Black and White Menstruals Agenda, using a mix of humour and design, not only lets women (and men if they wish) keep track of their periods each month, but also pokes fun at the stereotypes perpetuated through advertising media.

The work of Sharon Hill and Alison Blackburn, The Menstruals Agenda grew out of our parody on feminine hygiene advertising, which featured in the Out of the Box exhibition at last year's Melbourne Fringe Festival.

As a result of the exhibition's impact, our parody was fleshed out into a commercial product with a two-fold purpose: to remind women each month of their periods and to give women a witty perspective on the inevitable monthly blood flow.

Designed to be used in any month of any year, the Agenda features twelve graphic designs lampooning various commercial aspects of selling feminine hygiene products.

"New Freudian Tampons can be your best friends" displays an image of Bonnie Blush in a cozy couch discussion with a tampon (Dr. Salivar Darlee), a highly trained clinical psychologist who can deal with any menstrual conflict.

"Ken's tampon envy, trumpets a third month" because he wants to swim, surf and ride horses too!

Because each page has all 12 months and 31 days listed, the Agenda is able to be used in any month for any year. Red spots are included to mark the month and day the period is due.

She continues, "the Agenda is 2 colour (Black/White and RED), A4 format and although it could be confused as a calendar IT DOESN'T HAVE A USE BY DATE - it has been designed to be used ANY month of ANY year and can in fact (unlike other sanitary products) can be used again and again, year after year!"

Until she gets her web page ready, e-mail her for price and more information at

(3 Aug 97)

The Web Likes Your MUM, Etc.

A female visitor to this site writes:

I ran across a write-up about your Web site in The Web Magazine, and had to check it out. It is fascinating, and I don't care that you're male! I plan to show it to my 12-year old daughter as soon as she gets home, and also plan to tell all my friends about it. Keep up the good work...

The issue of The Web Magazine is August '97. The article reviewed 500 Web sites, in categories ranging from Arts through Weird. Yours is under the Weird category heading [oh, no!!], subheading "Things That Go Cramp" (pg. 92). It gives ratings on a scale of 1-5, (5 being the best) on Content (yours-5) Design (yours-4) Links (yours-4) and Overall (yours-5).

I welcome comments about improving this site, although I can't promise I'll execute them, partly because of time; I do this site and the museum in the hours remaining from a very time-consuming job unrelated to the museum.

(27 July 98)

Relax in a German Menstrual Hut!

Last week brought this e-mail from Germany. Are there more huts in Europe?


my name is Petra, and I live in Würzburg, Germany. I belong to a group of women who have just opened the first "Menstruationshütte" [menstrual hut] in Würzburg. This is a place where women can relax, talk with other women, get information about menstruation and get a massage or a cup of special tea. On Thursday, 3 July 1997, we will open for the first time. We hope a lot of women will visit the "Menstruationshütte."

(13 July 97)

What Do Women Use in New Guinea?

After visiting the MUM Web site, a reader in Canberra, Australia, e-mailed this:

We were fascinated with your Web site. I found it through "The Keeper" site advertised in the Herb Companion Magazine.

Anyhow, I thought you may be interested to know that during the 70's, during my teens, my parents lived in Papua, New Guinea. My mother got friendly enough with some New Guinean women to ask them how they dealt with menstruation in the village. The reply surprised us. They said they used the coir [fiber, sometimes used to make rope, etc.] from coconut husks in place of sanitary napkins!

Keep up the good work.


Dutch Web Site Makes MUM the Site of the Week!

I received this e-mail this past week:

It may please you to know that this week your web site is 'Site of theWeek' in my site, which contains, among other things, 6000 links to museum sites in 120 countries.

Best wishes,

Rob Elsas

It does please me, and thank you very much! Check out the museums, folks - some are just great, and in 120 countries!

(4 May 97)

Our Human at Girlcon '97

Board Member Miki Walsh (not the floating spirit of MUM at left, but the one making a point; drawing by H. Finley) represented this museum and gave a talk at a gathering of young feminists at Wellesley College called Girlcon '97, right outside Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., in the middle of April; men were barred from giving presentations. She fired this e-mail off to MUM headquarters, and I present it here, electrons still crackling:

I've had more menstruation in April than one girl is supposed to have! No, literally, I've been right on track, thank you very much, BUT menstruation for me this past month has far exceeded the boundaries of my little uterus!

For starters, Harry [Finley, MUM director] asked me to join the board of MUM, as one of the youthful members . . . I guess he figured that it would be a good idea to have a board member who has at least another good quarter century of menstruating years ahead of her! And, as a part of my duties as a MUM board member (hey, I feel like I just won the Miss America Pageant, or something. No, wait, that was Harry's GRANDFATHER'S thing!) I fled to Boston to represent MUM at the National All Girl Slumber Party (aka Girlcon '97) at Wellesley College, the weekend of April 11-13. This is the tale of my weekend adventures at the conference!

First of all, I must point out that this was the first time I've given a seminar to a group of adults. I'm actually a pre-kindergarten teacher, and I had the feeling that I was going to get up there to speak and I'd forget where I was and I'd start off with, "If you can hear me, touch you nose! If you can hear me, touch your bellybutton! Good! It looks like I have a lot of people ready to be good listeners today!"

Well, about 20 or so humans gathered for my presentation. I chucked the lectern that they had so generously supplied me with, and sat, um, Native American Style on a table in the front of the room for my talk. Now, I can say with complete honestly that I don't remember a damn thing that I said! Apparently, I was pretty amusing, 'cuz the humans were laughing a lot . . . of course, I'm not sure if they were laughing WITH me, or laughing AT me! :) Anyway, I certainly hope that I covered the basics of the museum, talked about the past, present and future of it, and told how I got involved . . . this is what I planned to say, but, as I said, I have no recollection of what I said for 25 minutes up there . . . although I'm quite certain that the phrase "Spastic Menstrual Girl" DID exit my mouth . . . oooops! :)

No one badgered me with questions that I couldn't answer, OR attacked me because they were offended that a man had started MUM, which made me Thankful Girl! I then showed "Under Wraps," which really IS the best film about menstruation ever made! Everyone, run out and get it right now! The humans really seemed to like it . . . in fact, I was asked to lend it to the conference for the weekend so that other humans who missed my talk (many did, as it was the first thing scheduled for the conference, but I didn't mind too much!) could see it as well.

For the rest of the weekend, humans came up to me and told me that they liked my talk and film, so I guess that it went well! But, here is my favorite thing that happened. Apparently, (not that I remember this!) I told them the story about how Harry told Johnson & Johnson what o.b. stands for in English (it's ohne Binde, which is German for "without a napkin," not "without a belt," which is what the J & J rep thought) and some humans asked me how to spell it, 'cuz they wanted to name their band Ohne Binde! I was amused! So, if y'all ever hear of a band by that name, you'll know what inspired it! :)

The rest of the weekend I spent attending the other events from the conference. There were several highlights for me! My favorite was a talk by Sarah Wood, founder of G.E.R.L.L. press, regarding racist trends within the early birth control movement (Margaret Sanger was NO saint!) and current racist trends in reproductive control. Also, I enjoyed a workshop on racism within feminism given by Nohelia Canales, who is Ms. Foundation's Young Feminist Visionary of the Year. In addition, I saw several women musicians perform, went to a poetry reading, and saw a lot of great artwork. All in all, it was a great weekend, and I was pretty much ecstatic to be a part of it!


We Get E-mail - Do We Get E-Mail!

The following communication whacked my Macintosh last week, and it has made me really think about what I wrote:

"Regarding this:

'Someone - a woman - suggested to me that a man gives more credibility to the enterprise [this museum], as offensive as that may seem, because men generally run things in our society. Another woman felt that if the museum were run by a woman, she would probably be far left in politics, and perhaps a lesbian, thus putting off the vast majority of the public in two ways. The museum would be marginalized as a feminist whim.'

Look, I like your website quite a lot, and appreciate it very much. But don't flatter yourself thinking it's this cool because you are a man. It's cool because you clearly have a brain and a heart - the penis doesn't matter. And I don't see how this could be more marginalized if written by a lesbian. That would certainly make it acceptable to lesbians! Who's to say what would be more offensive to the narrow-minded masses - a lesbian, or a man discussing something he has no personal experience with? I mean truly, if people accuse you of being a woman-hater or a gay man, their logic is so failing that they probably would hate lesbians as well for the same bullshit reasons - "oh, you hate femininity and want to be a man . . . ."

And what the HELL is a feminist whim!? That's kinda like saying "a bad day of the month," isn't it?

Okay, rant over. I loved the site. And it does impress me that a man dared to do it with such intelligence.


Sonia Araña"

(For people thinking of writing MUM: I don't publish communications without the authors' permission; the same applies to signatures or any other identification. You're safe.)


The Last Gasp on Grot

Last week I printed two readers' answers to my question as to what the word grot means, which appeared in a letter to me from an Australian woman under twenty years of age, which indicated to me that it might be slang.

Well, the author of the letter herself straightened me out this past week; actually she agrees with the other writers. In her words,

"grot".. does mean yucky... grotesque... disgusting... grotty... it's just a type of slang


Two Readers Nail Down Grot

Last week I printed a letter from an Australian teenage girl who thought that MUM was silly, and grot. Grot?

Well, I thought it might mean yucky, a word which is what it sounds like. I wrote the writer of the letter; no reply.

Two readers have supplied definitions that pretty much confirm each other.

Reader One writes,

"I think "grot" is short for grotesque. I remember George Harrison (yes, of the Beatles) using the term "grotty" in the movie "A Hard Days Night" and explaining to another character (a perfectly awful TV show producer and supposed purveyor of teenage style) that grotty was short/slang for grotesque. The clothing that the TV producer deemed "fab" George declared grotty.

P.S. I'd like to take the chance to compliment you on your web site. I hope someday to be able to visit your museum, but as I live on the opposite coast, I can't say when that might be. I've found the information you've collected to be fascinating. I hadn't realized how much ideas about menstruation and menstrual products have been so manipulated by advertising through the years." [Thank you! I love to hear that!]

Reader Two mostly agrees:

"the word "grot " is a form of the word grotie (spelled something like that)

it means gross, disgusting, and the like

just thought i'd tell ya cause ya asked and that is a word in my vocabulary.

p.s. i love yr web site to death and its not grot. its so great that the blessing (only to an extent can this word be used) of a grrls period can be shared w the world. it IS nothing to be ashamed of. i don't even think its bad that u r a man." [Thank you! This last sentence brings up a sore point for some people, and I'm happy for the support.]


"you have a very silly museum"

The teenage daughter of an Australian acquaintance recently sent me this letter (I retain here the punctuation and form of the original, which I print complete, except for the signature):

"you have a very silly museum . . . it's weird. my mum [!] thinks it's cool . . . i think it's grot . . . . but don't close it down because it's funny . . . .

did you open it because you don't get periods and felt bad and got a raw deal from the omni-present one??

if you want we can swap and you can have my periods for me every month, I'm a generous and giving person.

thank you for the period diaphragm thingy [an Instead cup I sent her mother] it's grot and I wouldn't want to take it out after I've used it . . . "[this last comment is typical for Instead]

I think grot means yucky; anyone know for sure?


A Happy Keeper Menstrual Cup User, and "t-topics"

MUM received this testimonial last week (see previous comments):

"I've used my Keeper for about a year now and I'm very pleased with it. I find it comfortable, convenient, and it saves me a lot of money! It's especially great for traveling--I took mine to the Sudan with me, where I was living in a rural village with no plumbing or conveniences like drugstores. I wore it on a 10-hour drive across the desert where it would have been impossible to stop or find a place to change a tampon or pad, and it saved me from having to carry around several months worth of menstrual products wherever I traveled. I love it!"

And this missive from Lisa,

"When I was a counselor at summer camp there was a joke about t-girls and p-girls...tampon girls and pad girls. I even made a little newsletter after camp and sent it to a friend or two. It was called "t-topics." It was kind of stupid and kind of funny. I like your Web site".

Lisa says if she finds the newsletter, she might let us read it!


A Lesbian Replies to a Lesbian's Criticism

E-mail brought this nice message last week:

"Hi, I'm here on your wonderful Web site, reading your blurb that a few copies of the last printed edition of Catamenia are still available. I'd love to get a copy, if you still have some. My address is below.

"By the way, you mentioned getting criticism from a lesbian who seems to blame you for people's mocking attitude toward menstruation. As a lesbian and a menstruating woman myself (and a menstrual worker), I believe this museum, and your willingness to put your time into de-mystifying menstruation, are wonderful and absolutely needed in the world. It takes courage for anyone to speak up about menstruation. Women and men will be criticized for doing so, for different reasons. Yet both voices are needed. Speaking up is the only way to change things. And the history of menstruation is too important to lose. I'm glad you have been inspired to do the work you are doing.


Ellen Symons" (Eco Logique, Inc., Ottawa, Canada)


Speaking of Authors on the Internet...

Your MUM director received this e-mail recently:

"Never thought I'd discover this on the Web! I'm the author of 'Everything You Must Know About Tampons' (Berkley Books, 1981), and how I wish this info had been available when I was doing my research. Keep up the good work!

Nancy Friedman"


© 1997 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute this work in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to

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© 1998 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute any of the work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to