Last year a book appeared, Is Menstruation Obsolete?, that argued that women should stop menstruating altogether for certain health benefits by using hormone pills.
Now Barr Laboratories has sought permission from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration to supply women with specially packaged hormone pills to allow menstruation only every three months for healthy women who want to reduce the number of times they menstruate. Women would take the pill 84 days in a row, then take a week's break. It is now being tested in various parts of the U.S.A.
An article in the health supplement of the Washington Post (15 August 2000) discusses this pill-package, Seasonale. (Read about a New Yorker magazine article on the creation of the birth-control pill and why women were to take a break from it once a month.) It also states that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the largest such organization in the United States, has taken no position about the suppression of menstruation.
Read your e-mail about what you think about stopping menstruation.
A staff member of the Discovery network in Canada phoned me that it's creating a program about menstruation for probably late this year. It will cover physiology, synchrony, advertising and taboo.
I'll report more details when I learn of them.
Display your art about menstruation
[For information about an exhibit:]
Go to the site, www.openingcloseddoors.org Click on the "Prospectus" button.
A brief outline of the exhibition is listed. Then at the very bottom of that page is our address and request for a SASE with prospectus name. This is how your site viewers can get more information.
[I, Harry Finley, will be one of the jurors for the exhibit. See art about menstruation on this site.]
[Benne' later sent the following:]
The Opening Closed Doors interview with Chuck Freeman of Soul Talk airs again today at noon on 94.3. For those out of town and out-of-state, the interview will be posted on his Web site in audio format, www.soultalkradio.com. This is an excellent way to learn more about our arts organization and future exhibition plans.
Mrs. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound: a baby maker?
A friend asked me to find something out for her regarding Lydia Pinkham.
This friend's great-grandmother, as the story goes, used a concoction of Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound [see and read here about it] after 4 or 5 miscarriages and then had 13 perfectly normal pregnancies. It was supposedly a medicine that would strengthen her blood. Do you know what this would have been? I have no idea whether it is something that can still be used or not, but am very interested in knowing.
Thank you so much.
[There is a long anecdotal history of women who have tried in vain to have a baby and who have then taken this compound - and had a baby. Read the ingredients.]
What did cave women use for menstruation and why do women menstruate earlier today than a hundred years ago?
I love your Web site! [Thanks!] And, I have a couple of questions:
you write [here],
"Keep in mind that prior to the 20th century, European and American women menstruated infrequently compared with today. They started menstruating later, frequently in the mid-to-late teens, and stopped earlier, if they lived long enough to experience menopause, thus creating a shorter time for menstruation"
1) Why did women start menstruating later and stop earlier?
[I don't think it's been certainly determined, but it likely has to do with better nutrition today and fewer childhood diseases.]
2) What are current speculations as to cave people's behavior and absorption techniques for menstruation?
[I think it's that pre-Homo sapiens groups developed ceremonies around menstruation in an attempt at explanation; it must have baffled and maybe frightened them, as it has most of humanity, even today. Women, if they used anything at all, could have used grass, fur, sponges - anything that absorbed.]
Thank you so much for your time and reply. [Happy to help!]
Correction to article about menstrual costume
My name is Navjot Verraich and I am the curator for the exhibition featuring "The Ultra Maxi-Priest" that was mentioned on your Web site.
I just wanted to mention that the text of the article in the first paragraph is not correct. Here is the actual text from the article as it was printed [I added the text, and the article is now correct]. The version on your Web site is missing the first paragraph [the person who sent me the article last year did not send that paragraph].
I think the first paragraph is important because it provides for the context of the exhibition being composed of artists entirely of South Asian Descent. This is crucial to understanding why they decided to censor the artwork. Race and ethnicity were key factors.
Btw, I did get a chance to "have a say" in this controversy in an interview with the Hamilton Spectator [newspaper]. If you are interested in posting it as well, I would be happy to mail you a copy [Yes!]. I basically defended the piece as a justified criticism of organized religion's treatment of women throughout history.
Thanks very much.
(You can find the link to the Visual Raaga Exhibition under the contacts page)
A first-year student writes about pad disposal in student housing at Northern Arizona University
I wanted to let you know that I have about twelve or so of those disposal bags you mentioned on your Web site, and I will gladly send you one if you want it. [Great! I'll add them to the bag page.]
I will be attending Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, and in most of the ladies' restrooms in the university these disposal bags are provided in little bins attached to the side of the stall. I find this to be a little odd, because they do provide those little bins to dispose of pads, and the bags are somewhat unnecessary, except for possibly the coed dorms.
I stayed in one of the coed dorms for the Previews program NAU runs, and they did not provide those little pad disposal bins, or the bags. I would wager that since the dorm I stayed in was a coed dorm by floor, and since they switch the gender of the floors' occupants from time to time, that they don't provide the pad disposal bins in any of the dorms except the all-women's dorms. [You would probably win your wager.]
A German student replies to recommendations for her project (her request and my answer)
Dear Mr. Finley,
Thanks for your book recommendations.
I have had a look in "Die unpäßliche Frau" and tried to get "Marketing the Unmentionable: Wallace Meyer and the Introduction of Kotex" but it is unavailable. Instead I found a German equivalent which mentions your museum briefly.
I attached a copy of that [see below] and of the book cover [at left. The title translates as This Little Piece of Cotton . . . . The subtitle is "Advertising and taboo, exemplified by pads and tampons"].
[When the physical museum was open, a German television crew visited one evening, one of two German crews to visit in those four years, and shot footage for the program Liebe Sünde - Dear Sin - which was broadcast 15 May 1996. The program also showed the artists Portia Munson and Wenda Gu and their work about menstruation. That something about menstruation should appear on a program entitled Dear Sin only shows you how menstruation is viewed in a First World country.]
Did Courtney Cox first mention the word (menstrual) period on TV?
I found your site after a mention in the Los Angeles Weekly newspaper. I find it fascinating and have recommended it to others. [Thanks!] There are two things that I did not see on your site that you might want to investigate:
Under celebrities [see more celebs here]: on a tv interview, Courtney Cox ("Friends") has said that she was in the first tv commercial for tampons that actually used the word "period" on tv. It was broadcast during the soap opera "General Hospital" during the whole Luke & Laura thing. [Soap operas are foreign territory to your MUM, and I assume some readers will understand what she talks about.]
During the early 70s a brand called "New Freedom" marketed a pad with adhesive strips and featured advertising aimed at teenagers with mod-look girls in floppy hats and bell bottoms!
MUM in an Austrian newspaper
A description of your museum was mentioned in a big nationwide newspaper in Austria; I have no scanner, otherwise would have sent you the article.
FREIZEIT-KURIER, #560, Aug.12th, 2000
So I ended up surfing your site and found it really informative. Thanks for doing that (I have not searched for a male equivalent . . . what would that be? [Any suggestions?]).
This is just to tell you I found it as informative as entertaining! [Many thanks! Here are more papers, etc., this museum has appeared in.]
G'day, mates, and mind your moggies!
Dear Mr Finley,
In Australia we refer to cats as "moggies." [The writer wrote me earlier to send some ads and mentioned her cat.] It is actually an example of English slang blended into the Aussie vernacular.
Being a bit closer to our English roots, we use more than a little slang from that fair country. Nice word, isn't it? We also use plenty of home-grown Australian slang, which keeps my American colleague at work greatly amused.
[Read about and see moggies - MOGGIES?! - on this site.]
A MUM poet, Dr. Michael Abramson, writes, curiously
I hope you are well. I have changed a few of my sites a bit. If you haven't already, please link everything to : www.poeticalways.com [Read more of his poems on this site.]
Here is a little poem for you:
Curiosity is a thing,
Which helps to drive the human brain,
It can often keep it going,
Through sleet and snow and rain.
It's not some thing we can control,
Nor that which we can train,
For it seems to be instinctual,
And we'd need to look within ourselves,
To find out just which genes to blame.
I do believe that very soon,
We can select those genes we wish,
And we can sort and then arrange them,
Like some sushi on a dish.
And having this ability,
May just bring me more stability,
But I'm hoping that it will not change,
That which is basic to my nature,
My poetic instability.
As you can probably see now,
I've strayed within this poem,
And have used poetic license,
Around a world of words to roam.
From rain and sleet and snow,
Into genes and to a wish,
And to others too of course,
Such as sushi on a dish.
I'm sorry and I'm thinking now,
That there's something I did miss,
And I guess it is that I've forgotten,
Why I started all of this.
Oh yes, I do remember now,
But my lack of memory makes me furious,
And this poetic consequence,
Has resulted from the fact,
That I'm a poet who was curious.
Call for Submissions: "The 100 Best Things About Menstruation"
Looking for one-liners up to three paragraphs describing a "best thing" about menstruation: Health-related, cultural, artistic; an experience shared with an older or younger relative, or with a partner; a dream, political statement, joke, proverb, and/or something overheard at a party; scientific, sexual and/or religious . . . .
Be creative, be precise, and make it a one-liner up to three paragraphs.
The book will start out with best thing #1:
Which is a "joke" given to me by a woman in Australia - however, I think it accurately expresses the menstruphobia most people feel, and is a good starting point for the general audience the book is aimed at.
From there, the book is a journey through all stages and aspects of the lifetime menstrual cycle - and the last several "best things" will be about menopause. So hopefully the reader will be brought full circle - they will recognize their own menstruphobia in the first best thing, but by the end of the book, they may be surprised to find themselves feeling a bit . . . menstrufriendly!
Please include contact information for you and/or your group EXACTLY as you would wish it to appear in the book - I think it will save a bit of hassle down the road!
Any best things that don't make it into the book will be included in a section on the Menstrual Monday Web site entitled "More Best Things About Menstruation." I'd like the book to be a snapshot of the worldwide menstrual movement in year 2000 - so just like a group photo, there's going to be some adjusting and moving people around and asking people to tilt their head a bit to the left, etc. . . i.e., as editor of the book, I may e-mail back and ask you to expand your best thing(s), or give some specific examples . . . so I hope that's not going to put anybody off!!!
Here's another sample best thing:
#43. Cramping at the Savoy
I know it's traditional to lie in bed with a hot water bottle or heating pad when one has cramps, but I can remember working in a fast-food restaurant, and one day when I had my period, I'd worked an eight-hour shift from 6 am to 2 pm, and later that night, went dancing at 9 pm . . . I can remember being on the crowded dance floor, and shouting up to my partner, "the dancing's made my cramps go away!" and him shouting back (although I could barely hear him above the music): "GOOD!!!"
So maybe the whole purpose of having cramps is to propel us onto the dance floor!
Working deadline is October 1, 2000, for submissions.
Please feel free to e-mail me with your "best things," and any questions or comments you may have!
Geneva Kachman [who has written poetry and essays on this site and had toxic shock syndrome. She founded Menstrual Monday.]
You can get the correct information if you go to these pages published by the U S Naval Observatory:
http://psyche.usno.navy.mil/millennium/whenIs.html (that`s a capital "i" in
A comprehensive site from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich will put right any doubts:
Irregular menses identify women at high risk for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which exists in 6-10% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is a major cause of infertility and is linked to diabetes.