New this week: Kotex ad and proof (July 1923, The
Ladies' Home Journal, U.S.A.)
See the Fabulous Early History of the Struggle
for American Women's Rights on Public Television (U.S.A.)
So who was Elizabeth Cady Stanton? Just the most important woman in
At least she is according to one of the commentators in Not
for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony,
a three-hour, two-part documentary by Ken Burns, who also created The Civil
War, an impressive eleven-part series on Public Broadcasting.
I was stunned by this story of the two women most responsible for getting
women the vote in the United States, even though neither lived long enough
to cast theirs. But I was shocked by the amount of suppression of women
in the 19th century and before, and into the twentieth. Not only could they
not vote - I knew that - women couldn't keep the wages they earned, couldn't
be jurors, couldn't sue for divorce, and couldn't many more things. Hardly
any attained professional status or received higher education.
When I was an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins, 1960-64, women hardly
existed in the history books I read or were the subject of lectures I attended.
But women made history at Hopkins. Soon after
the university started, in 1876, the value of the railroad stock (seven
million dollars, the largest philanthropic gift up to then in America) that
the Quaker Johns Hopkins gave to found the university and hospital fell,
making bankruptcy likely. To the rescue came a group of clever Baltimore
They agreed to help the university financially if Hopkins raised its
entrance standards and - admitted women.
The university did both, reluctantly, and women started as graduate
students in 1877, with Florence Bascom receiving her Ph.D. in 1893, although
another woman completed her Ph.D. work in 1882, receiving it decades later.
But it was 1970 before women were undergraduates.
Just as these women saved Johns Hopkins, in a sense Susan Anthony and
Elizabeth Stanton saved American women. A male narrator on the program not
only called Mrs. Stanton the most important woman in American history -
I had never heard of her - but the granting of the
vote to American women the greatest event in American social history
- greater than the freeing of the slaves because of the greater number of
people affected. By the way, both Anthony and Stanton fought for the freeing
of the slaves, but were disappointed when, at last, the slaves were freed,
and the black males had far more rights than they.
My biggest question is why does Burns devote 13
hours to the history of baseball and three
to the greatest woman and event in American social history? Burns commented
after the program that he had never heard of Stanton before research for
the possible film "discovered" (my word) her. I'm happy he at
least wised me up - I'm no dummy, but I was
ignorant of much of what I saw - and I'm ready for more.
Not only do we need more television about women's social history, we
need a series on the history of women's health - and menstruation. The makers
of Under Wraps, the Canadian television video
about current issues in menstruation, have not been able to interest American
television in the video, although American film festivals have shown it
and Canadian TV ran it years ago. I suspect it terrifies television people
here. Why can Americans see violence and sex on television, often involving
women, but hardly the political and scientific facts of women's existence?
Because testosterone controls the industry.
I hope Not for Ourselves Alone is just
Letters to Your MUM
I don't know how you beat a woman to it, but your MUM is grand, and
I am referring all my young women clients to it as they experience body
My appreciation to you! [Many thanks!]
The writer and I both wonder why women did
not start a museum of menstruation (although women were at least
heavily involved in the Norwegian exhibit about
the company history of Scandinavia's biggest menstrual products company,
My thoughts: most women want to avoid menstruation, not think about
it; others celebrate it, and in a very personal way, which I cannot do,
being male (some women have pointedly reminded me of this). I thought menstruation
deserved to be looked at as any other cultural phenomenon having a long,
extraordinary history running through every culture. And excluding me from
it makes it all the more interesting.
Unfortunately, the museum is not ready for interns, although there is a huge amount of work to do, such as around 5000
items to catalog. Five years ago I developed a computer catalog for
the museum's artifacts, but the time required to run the actual museum and
now the Web site stopped the entries at about 250. Now and then interested
folks ask about helping; I hope soon this will be possible (read the future of the museum):
Dear Mr. Finley,
I love your online museum. Let me just say that your idea is a great
I was wondering if you needed me as an intern or if you had any other
employment opportunities, or if any will come up in the next year. I will
be graduating form the University of Pennsylvania in the spring.
Please feel free to e-mail me with any info or questions.
Last week a woman
wondered why women are not to use inverted yoga positions
during the menstrual cycle. Below, in three e-mails that I combined,
she provides some fascinating answers:
Thank you for your response. After I e-mailed you I found the following
sites which you may want to share on the news update.
Anyway, I heard that backflow is bad because it's associated with endometriosis.
Nasty bits floating around the abdominal cavity=nidi [nidi is the plural
of nidus, which means nest in Latin, and today means a place in the body
that bacteria, etc., can develop] for endometriosis. I dimly remember a
lecture comparing the incidence of endometrioisis in species [see the article
below] whose fallopian tubes can backwash (yuck) and species whose tubes
can't. The gist of it was there may be a correlation between backflow and
I took a yoga class about a year ago and asked the instructor about
the admonition (we were doing shoulder stands). She said something about
my throat chakra being open, I think. Not like I felt like supporting my
bloated body on my shoulders, anyway :).
The writer sent an abstract of an interesting, pertinent article
(title) Increased prevalence and recurrence of
retrograde menstruation in baboons with spontaneous endometriosis
(from the journal Human Reproduction (England), Sep. 1996, 11(9) pp. 2022-5,
by D'Hooghe, T. M.; Bambra, C. S.; Raeymaekers, B. M.; Koninckx, P. R.,
of the Institute of Primate Research, Nairobi, Kenya.)
ABSTRACT: This study was done to test the hypothesis that the incidence
and recurrence of retrograde menstruation is higher in baboons with spontaneous
endometriosis than in those without. A total of 399 laparoscopies was performed
on 113 female baboons. Group 1 consisted of 84 animals with a normal pelvis
(including 23 that later underwent induction of endometriosis and were
assigned to group 4), group 2 comprised nine baboons with spontaneous endometriosis
acquired during the last 2 years of the study, group 3 had 18 baboons with
long-term spontaneous disease, and group 4 comprised 25 animals with induced
endometriosis. Retrograde menstruation was defined by the presence of blood-stained
peritoneal fluid (red or dark brown) during menses. Recurrence of retrograde
menstruation was analysed during the first two laparoscopies in 13 baboons.
Peritoneal fluid was 10 times more frequently blood-stained during menses
(62%) than during non-menstrual phases (6%). Retrograde menstruation was
observed more frequently in animals with spontaneous disease (groups 2
and 3, 83%) than in animals with a normal pelvis (group 1, 51%). Recurrence
of retrograde menstruation was observed more frequently in baboons with
spontaneous endometriosis (5/5) than in those without (3/8). The results
of this study demonstrate that retrograde menstruation is common in baboons
. . . .
It's ABOUT TIME! The Millennium or NOT the
Millennium: this site has a good explanation - it walks you through,
with tables yet!
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory [Washington, D.C., the timekeeper
for the U.S.A.] the end of the second millennium
and the beginning of the third will be reached on January 1, 2001 [not
This date is based on a calendar created in 526 A.D. by Dennis the
Diminutive, the head of a Roman monastery who forged a common calendar
from the divergent dating systems of his day.
The BBC wants to hear from you if your
cycle is a blessing, makes you
creative, if you have experience with menstrual
seclusion, or know about current
Here's your chance to say how you feel about
Please, may I post a letter on your letter page?
I'm researching a documentary for the BBC [British
Broadcasting Corporation] about menstruation -
myths and facts and blessing or curse.
I have much information about the curse and prejudice but I
am finding scant information about the blessing! I was thrilled
to find medical information linking surgery for breast cancer and the menstrual
cycle and the New Scientist report about differing medication levels required
during the 28-day cycle, and the research about eating requirements differing
during the cycle etc., but I want to hear from women
who have evidence of the cycle as a blessing, for example, artists, writers,
etc., who are at their most creative whilst menstruating.
I also want to meet women who practice menstrual
seclusion, as with menstrual huts of
the past [and of the present; women still use menstrual
And anything and everything to do with research into menstruation.
Next week I am interviewing Mr Peter Redgrove and Penelope Shuttle
who wrote the first book on menstruation that offered positive information,
The Wise Wound, 1978. I am very excited about
asking many questions resulting from the book. If
you have any questions for them pertaining to the book or their second
book, Alchemy for Women, about the dream cycle corresponding to the menstrual
cycle, I would be delighted to forward them to them on your behalf.
They are not on the net so any questions would have to have addresses!
Thank you so much for this glorious Web site [many thanks to you for
saying that!] and I look forward to hearing from visitors to your site.
Help Wanted: This Museum Needs a
Public Official For Its Board of Directors
Your MUM is doing the paper work necessary to become eligible to receive
support from foundations as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. To achieve
this status, it helps to have a American public official - an elected or
appointed official of the government, federal, state or local - on its board of directors.
What public official out there
will support a museum for the worldwide culture of
women's health and menstruation?
Eventually I would also like to entice people experienced in the law,
finances and fund raising to the board.
Do You Have Irregular Menses?
If so, you may have polycystic ovary syndrome
[and here's a support association for it].
Jane Newman, Clinical Research Coordinator at Brigham
and Women's Hospital, Harvard University School of Medicine, asked
me to tell you that
Irregular menses identify women at high risk for polycystic ovary syndrome
(PCOS), which exists in 6-10% of women of
reproductive age. PCOS is a major cause of infertility
and is linked to diabetes.
Learn more about current
research on PCOS at Brigham and Women's
Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University
- or contact Jane Newman.
If you have fewer than six
periods a year, you may be eligible to participate
in the study!
New this week: Kotex ad and proof (July 1923, The
Ladies' Home Journal, U.S.A.)
© 1999 Harry Finley. It is illegal
to reproduce or distribute work on this Web site in any manner or medium
without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations