Popular discourse increasingly addresses cultural and religious beliefs and practices related to menstruation around the world. This article presents a careful textual analysis of eighty-two articles seeking to dispel menstrual myths published in a wide variety of popular online media. While the articles aim to correct misinformation, many lapse into sensationalized or patronizing accounts of menstrual beliefs and practices that disregard and, in some cases, even ridicule cultural and religious traditions. Our analysis reveals that many articles reflect the neocolonial trinity of victim, savage, and savior that cast the global North as progressive and the global South as regressive. Through these representations, assumptions of Western superiority, including the untroubled privileging of modernity, are contrasted with "backward" traditions. In particular, these discursive formulations metaphorically cast women and girls as passive victims of their "savage" culture in need of "saviors" who have the authority and the resources to alleviate their suffering. In doing so, the articles largely fail to understand the complex and diverse meanings of menstrual beliefs and practices and to acknowledge women's and girls' agency.


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pp. 313-339
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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