Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Chris Bobel’s account of third-wave menstrual activism is a generational eye-opener. For a second-wave feminist like me, whose early goal in life was to have a full-time career and a family at the same time, menstruation was something to be minimized, managed, and made invisible. The idea of flaunting its bodily manifestations and making it the basis of political activism would have been unbelievable...
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Chris Bobel’s account of third-wave menstrual activism is a generational eye-opener. For a second-wave feminist like me, whose early goal in life was to have a full-time career and a family at the same time, menstruation was something to be minimized, managed, and made invisible. The idea of flaunting its bodily manifestations and making it the basis of political activism would have been unbelievable....
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On a Thursday morning in August, I am thumbing through the impressive list of workshops offered at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, highlighting those that grab me. I discover one titled “Ax Tampax,” which promises to “explor[e] the politics, issues, and experiences of menstruation including discussion of the dangers of disposable products and the presentation of safer alternatives.”...
Chapter 1. Encountering Third-Wave Feminism
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The Clarence Thomas–Anita Hill debacle of 1991 stirred the pot of feminist emotion. With rapt and often lascivious interest, the American public watched the televised Senate nomination hearings during which conservative African American nominee Clarence Thomas responded to accusations of sexual harassment. His accuser was a former colleague, African American Anita Hill, who alleged that on repeated occasions,...
Chapter 2: Feminist Engagements with Menstruation
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In The Curious Feminist, Cynthia Enloe asserts the need to develop a feminist curiosity, which begins with “taking women’s lives seriously.”1 This essential and focused attention, she argues, is not simply an act of valorization, but an earnest reckoning with all kinds of women in all kinds of places and times. When we take women’s lives seriously, we attend to the gaps and the absences in women’s lives, and accordingly to their consequences....
Chapter 3. The Emergence of Menstrual Activism
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Because Deb’s engagement with menstrual activism is nearly as old as the movement itself, I asked her to explain what led her to swim against the mainstream and embrace “alternative menstruation” beginning in the mid-1970s and continuing through the early 1980s....
Chapter 4. Feminist-Spiritualist Menstrual Activism
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Nineteen-year-old Kami McBride was ill. It was 1981. When McBride sought medical advice, four different doctors told her she was simply manifesting the stress of a recent breakup, on top of college finals. While McBride acknowledged that stress is undoubtedly implicated in numerous health problems, she was not satisfied with this explanation. So...
Chapter 5. Radical Menstruation
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EtShalom admits that she had to find out that a squatter is someone who occupies a house they do not own (a practice often linked with punk subculture) before she could make the connection. The joke was a play on the punk do-it-yourself ethic, or DIY, a commitment to self-reliance that thumbs its nose at commercialization and hyperconsumption,...
Chapter 6. Making Sense of Movement Participation
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When I first encountered the menstrual activism movement, I wasn’t surprised when I scanned the human landscape. Almost immediately I detected something similar between the menstrual activists and the natural mothers, a variant of mother activists I studied several years ago. In fact, I am quite certain that my fascination with natural mothering...
Chapter 7. When “Women” Becomes “Menstruators”
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A Korean FemCare commercial begins with a long shot of a beautiful woman striking a provocative yet demure pose in a navy blue, form-fitting dress, seated on the edge of a chair in front of a circular window that looks out on the lush green outdoors. Our eye is drawn to her long, slender legs, crossed at the ankles. We hear strains of ethereal music—a harp and a solo...
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A year after meeting the Bloodsisters and beginning my research into menstrual activism, I have returned to the this increasingly controversial feminist event. Here, the womyn-born-womyn policy that excludes transwomen is all the buzz, and perhaps nothing more clearly demonstrates that feminism as we know it is in a state of crisis. The policy articulates...
Appendix A. Methods
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Getting to know the menstrual activists, past and present, demanded multiple methods. Since no one had conducted an in-depth study devoted exclusively to menstrual activism, I was aware that a combination of qualitative approaches would be necessary to fully represent and interpret this understudied social movement. Thus this work...
Appendix B. Interview Protocol
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Appendix C. Demographics of Interviewees
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Appendix D. Selected Menstrual Activist Resources
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About the Author
Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 12 illustrations. 12 black and white halftones
Publication Year: 2010