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This is the MUM News page from 19 January 1998

From Menstrual Hut to The College of William and Mary

Sally Price, the Dittman Professor of American Studies, and professor of anthropology, at the College of William and Mary in Virginia (U.S.A.), wrote me last week, mentioning that she is one of the few late-20th century, North American women to have used a menstrual hut (here's a Hawaiian hut). And she's written about it! Read a comment she has about these huts.

But she and her husband, another Dittman Professor at William and Mary, have written together and separately a stupendous number of books about the Caribbean and South America, as well as other topics.

Get at least one of them, Co-Wives and Calabashes (at left), which discusses her experiences in a menstrual hut, among many other things. It's the second edition, published by the University of Michigan in 1993. It costs $16.95 - that's cheap! - and available at and I'll be able to tell you more about her books later.

You! Yes, YOU! Listen to Your MUM! Twist That Dial to 99.5 in New York!

This Friday, the 23rd, gather the pearls of wisdom yer MUM will cast in New York City, on 99.5 FM, WBAI, on Barbara Glickman's Health Styles, between roughly 3:15 to 3:45 in the afternoon.

"You Must Have the Wrong Number!"

Tia Keenan and Veletia Vancza, who drove from New York last weekend to visit their MUM house museum (see the next item), thought they had lost my phone number and address, and were stuck 10 miles from here in College Park, Maryland. Veletia called telephone information and asked for the number of the Museum of Menstruation. The male operator said, "What??," and she had to spell and define "menstruation" for him. By the time his supervisor got on the phone, she realized that they did have the phone number after all, and made it on time.

Your MUM Will Survive the Winter!

Two groups of visitors last Saturday presented me with a t-shirt and a, um, er, another article of clothing (picture at right). At least the t-shirt, with the help of Prof. Mack C. Padd, will shield me from the wint'ry blast!



Tia Keenan and Veletia Vancza, of the State University of New York, told me about their organization Heavy Flow, for which Tia is creating a Web site - soon, in the ether near you! Both students screen-print various items of clothing with their logo, and will do so for you, too. They will interview yours truly later on this month on a radio program in their area. Thanks, Tia and Veletia!

Another group, from, videotaped a tour of MUM, which they say will be viewable in a week or two on the Web. I'll tell you where and when and how when they tell me. You'll see us rattle on, actually moving, talking seriously about unmentionable subjects and objects, which you'll also see. [T]hesync, you're an interesting bunch of people!


Saturday, a museum visitor told me that the Japanese brand of pad and tampon called Whisper advertises itself as safe to open in public toilets.

Safe to open in public toilets?

Well, Whisper doesn't crackle like the other brands when the user opens the transparent covering on the package. Women in neighboring stalls therefore can't tell if a woman is about to extract a pad or a tampon, or do some other suspicious thing, which might lead to the belief that she is in the stall actually sitting on a toilet, doing something embarrassing.

The Land of Infinite Courtesy also has women's public toilets with "white noise" generators, as I mentioned in an earlier News, which drown out those pops and splashing sounds that sometimes accompany activities when seated on a toilet.

These concerns are not restricted to Japan. My own mother was extraordinarily careful to conceal these and related activities from her three all-male children, leading to some amazing beliefs I held until my twenties. We won't get into those.

I think that my starting this museum is a result of this prudery in my childhood.

See the Japanese origami tampon and one with finger cots named for (of all people) Anne Frank.

The More People are Different, the More They Stay the Same . . .Whatever

Another visitor to MUM spent five months living with a all-female family in Zimbabwe, Africa, last year. She said that the women hid their pads and tampons from each other, and never spoke of menstruation. The visitor, after removing her pad in the bathroom, which lacked a waste can, wrapped it in toilet paper, hid it under a bath towel, and put it in the trash basket in her bedroom.

All-women households are common in that country because the civil wars have killed enormous numbers of men.

She feels that menstruation customs are under great pressure there because of the clash of the customs of the former colonial power with those of the indigenous peoples. She said that one thing the colonial power and the indigenous groups could agree on was the suppression of women.

She visits Kenya next year, and promises to continue her observations.

Menstruation Beats the Time, by Heart



Another graphic artist in my office showed me the calendar an admirer had given her, in which February appears as above (detail at right). February, of course, has 28 days this year, and that is, well, you know . . . .

But February is just one of 12 months, and the whole calendar, called Designing Time: America's Graphic Designers Celebrate 1998, has each month interpreted by a different designer. It costs $12.95, and Universe Publishing produced it. I think her friend bought it in a museum shop somewhere here in Washington.

Paula Scher of Pentagram, a studio in New York, made the clever design.

"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?

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!

. . . 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.

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.

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!

Calling All Menstrual Painters, I

A recent visitor to the museum left this request:

I am creating a show on menstruation and menopause, and looking for work in all media. It can be from a spiritual, cultural, personal, or historical perspective.

The show runs 9 - 19 April 1998 at the Pentucket Arts Center, Haverhill, Massachusetts (U.S.A.).

As soon as you can, contact Amy Shutt, Bradford College, Box 511, Bradford, MA 01835 (U.S.A.). Phone: (978) 469-1323, or e-mail:

I need your work or proposals as soon as possible!

Calling All Menstrual Painters, II!

And here's another request:

Hi, I'm a student from Australia trying to contact some feminist artists who use menstrual blood as a medium - are you able to help me out? It would be much appreciated.

laura :


PREVIOUS NEWS | news | first page | contact the museum | art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | belts | bidets | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books (and reviews) | cats | company booklets directory | costumes | cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | famous people | FAQ | humor | huts | links | media | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | religion | menstrual products safety | science | shame | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour (video) | underpants directory | videos, films directory | washable pads | LIST OF ALL TOPICS

© 1998 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute this work in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. E-mail: