Saturday, 21 September 2013

Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim

Why I read it: Possibly this Slate article

Podcasts: None

Brow: If you are a woman, educating yourself about your menses is a very middle-brow thing to do. If you're a man and you read this, it's automatically upper-middle brow, raised to high brow if you peruse any part of it in public.

Summary: Every month, most non-pregnant women between the ages of about 12 and 45 bleed for 5-7 days. This has been the situation for at least the past 100 000 years and we still haven't learned to deal with it as a culture.

What I liked about it: I can't really say I liked the history of sanitary products, which was basically non-existent until the late 19th century and inadequate until about the 1960s, but it did give me yet another reason to be eternally grateful for being born in the late 20th century, where we have contraceptive devices that mean you never have to have a period you don't want and tampons for women who haven't jumped on the bandwagon. I'm only sorry I'll most likely miss the era when women who want to have a baby will be able to order one from a touch menu and won't have to deal with the messy stupidity that 'means you're a woman' every month. It was also fun to read the personal anecdotes from women about their first periods and about when they realised they were in menopause.

What I didn't like about it: Unfortunately, this book does not help fill my nerdiness quotient very well. I already knew most of the facts: why women menstruate, how they deal with it, why the period you get on birth control pills isn't really a period, ways of dealing with the side-effects, whether those side effects are real or cultural constructs, and so on. What I was really hoping for was more of the gruesome details of  pre-modern sanitary solutions (rubber underskirts, because women wearing underpants was sinful), or at least more personal experience stories.

No comments:

Post a Comment