What's menstrual slapping?
Questionnaire about menstrual slapping
by Lana Thompson
Ms. Thompson, who co-authored The Wandering
Womb: A Cultural History of Outrageous Beliefs About Women (Prometheus
Books, 1999) - a source of fascinating information (ever wonder about a
witch's tit?) and unforgettable illustrations from the Middle Ages and Renaissance
it! I get no cut from this.) - wants to know who did it, why, etc. But
Introduction to the study
Menarche is the term that is used by anthropologists and medical professionals
to refer to the first menstrual period. At the present time, the average
onset of menstruation is between 11-12 years. This age has decreased since
the middle of the 18th century when it is estimated that it was between
15 and 16. [There are other estimates.]
In many cultures, there are ceremonies marking this event. They are
referred to as "coming of age ceremonies" or "passages."
Some cultures celebrate the event. Other cultures may segregate the girl
for a few days. Anthropologically, the passage is referred to as liminal
(Victor Turner) because the girl is going from one life status to another.
According to Van Gennep, a ritual to mark an event consists of three stages:
initiation, transition and until she stops bleeding.
Among certain people in the U.S. (and maybe other places) there is a
custom of slapping the young menstruant's (girl who has her first period)
This initial research will poll 500 people and
explore the phenomenon of face slapping. The data will be used to find commonalities.
Your cooperation is appreciated. It is completely anonymous and your
name will not be used. For the validity of social science research, each
questionnaire is given a number to identify that data set. (The
questionnaire is right below.)
Lana Thompson, M.A.
P.O. Box 1245
Boca Raton, FL 33429
Questionnaire for the study
Number________ Your name or initials:_____________________________
1. How old were you when you first got your period (reached menarche)?
2. How old are you now?
3. Did your mother slap your face? No Yes
If you answered yes to question #3, go on to the next question
4. What did your mother say when she slapped your face?
5. What kind of message did her action and words communicate?
(Example: congratulatory, punitive, positive, negative, accusatory
limited to these examples)
6. Where did you live when you first started your menstrual periods?
7. Do you (or did you) have any daughters? No Yes
If you answered yes to question #7, go on to the next question.
8. When they reported that they had their first period, did you slap
their face(s)? No Yes
If you answered yes to question #8, list each daughter and age at menarche
in the table below.
Daughter (name or initials) | Age now | Age at menarche | What was said
9. Do you have any ideas about this custom? Why does it exist?
One woman writes about her own experience with slapping.
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