“Manstruation” and the Abject Object

Manstruation
Defined for me by a young Australian man (via the magic of talkback radio) as ‘just having a really shitty week’. As the conversation between the radio host and the gentleman in question unfolded, I learned that he and his friend had coined the term for their own usage after having an unusually and arbitrarily crap week. Generally speaking, the dialogue addressed the appropriate treatment of the symptoms: consumption of ice-cream, intense couch-time, copious amount of sympathy and a dash of self-pity.

I have to admit I was charmed. From a semantic perspective, the transfer of meaning (from ‘menstruation’, obviously) seemed to center around a sense of vulnerability as a reaction to extraneous circumstances. Basically, feeling like shit because the universe dicked you.
I enjoy the idea that these young guys perceived monthly bouts of emotional fuckery as both something beyond the control of their lady compatriots, and something they could share in. It made me feel a little better than I usually do about Boys And The Periods, which is pretty fucking terrible.

Cloth Menstrual Pads, now in Space Cadet!

I read something once when researching a paper about menstrual fluid being constructed socially as the most abject of all the body fluids. It provided many examples of how bleeding ladies are ostracised in certain cultural and religious practices (and a few where they were revered or sanctified) and argued fairly convincingly that western culture tends to group ‘dirty’ fluids (faeces, urine, menstrual blood) in opposition to ‘clean’ fluids (semen, non-menstrual blood).
The main contention of this author was that menstrual blood was abjectified, partly because of its ties to childbirth (and the Original Sin etc) and partly because, well, it comes from the va jay jay.

I would love to say that I don’t agree with the above, but the truth is that I tire of the squickiness surrounding periods. Luckily for me, I have always found myself in relationship where my partner’s reaction has been at worst ‘I am a little unsure of how this operates, but I believe I should fetch you a hot water bottle?’ and at best ‘I’ll just put down a towel’.
Outside of my personal relationships however, I frequently perceive a weirdness towards, even a fear of menstrual blood, And not just from dudes.
It makes me sad to hear fellow ladies who are ‘like, so totally grossed out’ by the fact that they bleed from the vagina. I mean, it’s not like I want to sweeten my tea with the stuff, but it’s just blood, right?

Unless you’re in the business of advertising feminine hygiene products, in which case, it is actually a thin blue liquid.
I don’t know how it works in other countries, but here in Australia, menstrual blood is apparently too indelicate a visual for the general public, so things like magic-anti-leakage-troughs and what not are demonstrated with what I would guess to be Listerine.

As a result, we’ve all heard one or more stories about a young girl who has Freaked the Fuck Out because she is bleeding ACTUAL BLOOD of the red variety OUT OF HER VAGINA.

So I guess that’s why I was so charmed by these lads and their Manstruation. It was just so nice to hear people talk about it (on National Radio even) without a trace of squick or mystification.

BONUS ROUND: I made a list of fun ways to refer to your ‘time of the month,’ using only my eyes and our friend The Internetz.

  • The Great Ovary Revolt
  • Bleeding out of my Goddamned Vagina (straight to the point)
  • Surfing the Crimson Wave (I heart Clueless so much)
  • Trolling for Vampires
  • Panty Shields up, Captain!
  • Expelling my Hysteria (particularly amusing if you are aware of the etymology of ‘hysteria’: from the Greek ‘of the womb’, suffering of the womb’).
  • The Tears of a Disappointed Uterus
  • There are Communists in the Funhouse (definitely my favourite)

I also found some really awful ones that you should never, ever use unless you are terribly skilled with irony:

  • The Curse
  • Using Man-Hole covers
  • Sick with Girl Flu
  • Broken

 

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