New this week: "Are
Vaginal Tampons Prejudicial to Health?"(proof of British Tampax
ad, 1952) - Translation of some Japanese text of ads and illustrations for
menstrual underpants and homemade
pads - Promotional leaflet for New Freedom
pads (about 1971, Kotex, U.S.A.)
Celebrate the First Annual Menstrual
Monday! See below.
weekend I Was at Vassar College, So the Next Update
is 10 April
I was asked to give a "workshop" at Vassar, in Poughkeepsie,
New York, about the future of this museum -
and of menstruation itself!
You laugh! The future of menstruation may not be so rosy - I couldn't
resist that - because of the view that the process
that produces menstruation may be bad for women when carried to modern lengths
(350 or so periods), very much increasing the chances of certain cancers
and other problems. Western women a hundred and more years ago menstruated
much less, and women's bodies seem not designed to handle so much chemical
The suggested solution - see the first indented section, below - is
to completely stop
menstruation by hormone supplements after adolescence
until a woman wants to have a baby, as well as delay the first period as
long as possible to relieve stress on girls and drastically reduce pregnancies
and abusive sexual behavior, often caused by male family members. Regular
periods, created by skipping The (birth-control) Pill a few days each month,
are not regarded as necessary and actually harmful, a result of mistaken
beliefs and an attempt to appease the Catholic Church - which didn't approve
the goal of this hormone usage anyway.
It's a hot topic now and I think worth wide public discussion. Many women suffer
during their periods - it's not called The Curse for nothing - and most
or all women risk several other problems.
Read much more about these and additional ideas in the recent Oxford
University Press book Is Menstruation Obsolete?
(here are some excerpts), or in
the 13 March New Yorker magazine,
in the Guardian,
in The Lancet (requires a log-in
and password, but it's worth reading) and I hope many other places. A Toronto,
Canada, internationally syndicated television program about sexuality is
planning a look at the subject. Other media should
discuss this important topic.
By the way,
I want to publish here your responses to this proposal to stop or reduce
menstruation. Write! Consider it from
any angle you want: personal, social, scientific, medical, etc. (Unless
you write that you want your name added to your comments, I won't use it.)
I would also like someone, or two or three, from the science or medical
community to rebut or support the arguments in Is Menstruation Obsolete?,
which I will show on this page.
The Vassar workshop is part of a conference called The
Unholy Triad: Reconfiguring Sex, Sexuality and Gender for the 21st Century.
I hope it's just coincidental that my part is on April Fools' Day!
Letters to Your MUM
Biologist Anna Simpson (here's more from her)
writes that taxes on "sanitary goods" are
now much lower in Britain, and how British
Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown couldn't bring himself to say certain
Just a quick note to pass on a bit of good news from the UK. The Chancellor
(Gordon Brown) announced in the Budget on Tuesday that the
government is cutting the VAT [value-added tax] on tampons and sanitary
towels in the UK [United Kingdom]. Sanitary protection used to be
classed as a "luxury," meaning it got the full 17.5 percent VAT.
From next January the tax will be 5 percent.
That's the lowest it can be, because of EU
[European Union] rules about which goods can be zero-rated. [Read about
Australian women's protests about taxes
for their pads and tampons].
There is a funny side to the story, however.
In the UK the chancellor reads out the budget in the House of Commons.
However, "this" bit of news didn't get
read out. This, despite the fact that it's a cut in tax (£35
million a year) and the Labour government has been getting some heat in
the last few weeks about their tax-raising since they came to power. Instead
it was only mentioned in the documents accompanying the budget.
The reason, according to the Guardian [newspaper], was that the
Chancellor couldn't be persuaded to say the words "sanitary protection"
in the House of Commons! They go on to quote "one MP"
[Member of Parliament, not "menstrual period," the abbreviation
my male junior-high school health teacher used for a period],"We tried
to get him to say 'sanpro,' but even that didn't seem to appeal."
The official reason is that he wanted the credit for the cut to go
to the female Treasury ministers who'd campaigned for it. He makes sure
they get the credit by not mentioning the subject at all? Yeah, right.
I think it just goes to show how big the taboo on
menstruation still is when embarrassment about using the phrase "sanitary
protection" can stop a government minister mentioning a tax cut!
Maybe you should send Mr Brown an invitation to check out the museum.
[I'm afraid he'd go into shock. His kind of timidity, which I, as a man,
understand, prevents serious consideration of Rep. Carolyn Maloney's Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1999, now stalled
in the U. S. House of Representatives. We are drowning in money; we should
spend a bit of it for objective research into products that affect or will
affect half the population.]
When did the British say "bringing down the
Dear H. Finley,
I recently discovered your wonderful Museum of Menstruation site thanks
to a link on Lesley Hall's home page. Hooray for you! [Thanks, and to Lesley
I'm trying to learn about British slang terms
Specifically, I'd like to discover when the phrase "bringing
down the flowers" was in vogue. Angus Maclaren mentions it
in "Reproductive Rituals," but I'm hoping
it was in use during the 20th century as well as the Early Modern period.
Any help you can give me in this matter, I'd appreciate.
Kansas State University
Students often e-mail to ask permission
to use information from this site for class projects,
and this is one from last week. I wish I had had the resources of the Internet
when I was a student, and a liberal English teacher!
Hi, Mr Finley,
My name is [name withheld], and I'm a schoolgirl living in Hong
Kong. I was assigned to do a project (an English project, believe
it or not) on a self-picked topic, and I chose sanitary products for my
topic. I left a message on the chickclick
message board, and a few people recommended your homepage, which I found
absolutely SUPER ;)
Well, I was hoping that you would give me permission to use your pictures
in my project. [Granted!]
Please leave me a note of reply asap : )
Thanx a bunch!! : )
She has some good ideas for the museum
I'm only partly through with searching your Web
site but I had to drop a note.
The museum is a great idea and should certainly
be separate from a medical institution, but should be in a city that has
a good teaching university; outreach, you know.
I would also like to comment on your being male
and undertaking this endeavor. I AM offended
by the women you quoted who said menstruation would be seen as more legitimate
if a man studied it. On the other hand, with
feminism being on the wane among young, successful American women (a little
ironic, that: those thirty-somethings with college educations, careers,
no children and their own apartments. Need I say more? The
fact that a MAN cares enough to examine this subject might actually register
with some people.
All us girls are too busy ignoring or medicalizing
our natural processes to actually THINK about it (we're modern, ya know).
Maybe you can guess that I'm in your camp, so
to speak. I think the whole thing is fascinating
and have done some writing myself on the subject as a grad student.
Hang in there!
[Later she again e-mailed, saying, in part:]
I must say, before I go, that I continued to
look over the Web site after I dropped you that note and loved it even
more. I also happened to be in the midst of the most painful menstural
cycle I remember experiencing in years so stumbling across your site was
a real gift that day! [She might be interested in reading Is Menstruation Obsolete?,
First Annual Menstrual Monday!
Monday before Mother's Day, because menstruation comes before motherhood
(and usually long after it, too). This year's Menstrual Monday falls on
May 8, 2000. If you live in a country that
doesn't celebrate Mother's Day as in the United States, pick a day that
seems appropriate and convenient for a "Menstrual Monday"!
Where: In your backyard at sunrise;
in the cafeteria at lunch; after work; at your friend's house; in the classroom;
in your dorm room - wherever is convenient and appropriate!
Why: To create a sense of happiness
and fun around menstruation; to encourage women to be proactive in addressing
menstrual and reproduction-related health issues; to encourage greater visibility
of menstruation culturally, in film, print, music, and other media; and
to enhance honesty about menstruation in our relationships.
How: Wear a red article of clothing,
put a red tablecloth on the table at dinner; talk to an older or younger
relative about her menstrual experiences; create some art or do some writing
about menstruation, and share with friends; share information about PMS,
endometriosis, or self-breast examinations; create a ritual involving red
candles and red tulips. In short: Whatever seems convenient and appropriate
Free Starter Kit!
Please feel free to download the above text to
make flyers or post on your own Web site, to e-mail
a friend, and so on. For more information,
or to receive a FREE Menstrual Monday "starter
kit" - please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or write, with your address:
4881 Packard #A2
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
A friend e-mailed me this announcement:
While there are many things you could do on April 1st and 2nd, do them
in Harrisonburg, Virginia (U.S.A.)! (More
information at the bottom of this news item). Here
is what you should do: come to the ANTI-TAMPON
conference. It is also known as the Mid-Atlantic
Feminist Conference, and some like to call
it the LetBloodFlow Fest, but don't get scared off by the name before you
read the description.
This conference is a feminist conference which
will focus on activism, radical change, and
womyn's empowerment. It is being held in order
to make the anti-tampon campaign more cohesive
and powerful. It will make everyone more powerful
with education, inspiration, workshops and
During this conference:
*Inga Muscio, author of the amazing book, Cunt,
will make a presentation and will give workshops.
To find out more about her go to http://www.kalikunti.com/
"Cunt does for feminism what smoothies did
for high fiber diets - it reinvents the oft-indigestible into something
sweet and delicious." - bust magazine
*The Blood Sisters, menstrual activists and creators
of Urban Armour and the zine Red Zone from Montreal
will do presentations, and a workshop or two. check
out their website http://www.pirg.ca/~bloodsisters/
*Lynn Lough, the owner of the beautiful goddess-centered shop On My Wings, and creator of "Goddess
Girls . . . an alternative to scouting," will
give workshops on goddesses and spirituality
*The Queens of Periodia will do workshops on
making menstrual pads and decorating yourself
with a message (tampon crown making)
*Sue Spivey, amazing feminist teacher and professor
of sociology, will do a workshop exploring
the way healthcare has gone from midwifery
to the present medical industry and another
workshop on an overview of radical feminism
*A double workshop on men in feminism given by
Rus Funk, the author of "Stopping Rape:
a challenge for men." The workshop will
examine how patriarchy has affected men and
how it hurts womyn and then will go on to
things that can be done to change those patterns.
it will explore men's role in feminism and ways
to actively fight sexism.
*We will discuss the campaign and where it is
going, brainstorm new actions, collaborate
with plans, provide and share materials, pamphlets,
*We will help plan and prepare for the direct
action that will occur at a tampon plant in
*We will show Born In Flames, an awesome video
about womyn becoming revolutionaries (they
take over NBC aw, yeah!)
*We will have a cunt-coloring contest
We are still working on confirming the following
*Menstrual extraction given by herbalist Sister
Zeus, who's expertise lies in this area
*Zine-making given by Mike Schade who has a really
cool activist-and-hardcore-oriented zine called
hodgepodge *Herbal solutions/help
for "PMS" also given by Sister Zeus
*A film/presentation by the Lesbian Avengers
*Radical cheerleading *Art
action *Chip mills, rayon and how by using
tampons you are supporting forest devastation
*Pelvic self-examinations *Self-defense
*Abortifacients, reproductive choices and rights
*Animal rights and feminism *Womyn
and globalization *Direct action *Nonviolence training *A
sex-positive workshop *Deep ecology/ eco-feminism
*Forced sterilization and how racism plays out in
birth control, given by Dr. Nikitah Imani
As we get confirmations and new additions they
will go up on our soon to be up Web site.
I will send out the address when it's done.
We are still taking proposals for workshops,
especially if you can do one of the above
topics. proposals/questions should be directed at
email@example.com or 540-438-1369 (Kristin).
Where is it? Harrisonburg,
Va., which is 2 hours southwest of Washington, D.C.
When is it? April
1st and 2nd (registration and party, March 31st)
What else? Housing
will be provided, vegan
breakfast and lunch will be provided, a bike library will be
provided, there will be a musical
performance (possibly by bitchandanimal and/or
thea - they both rawk!) and
possibly massage therapy/energy work will
How much? As of right now looks like $10
registration fee and maybe a few more for food .
. . if you cannot afford this price we still
want you to come so we will work some thing
out, just let us know!
For info about the anti-tampon campaign and the
related issues go to the blood
sisters address given above
To support the campaign and the conference you
can buy silkscreened patches for donations
of a dollar and up by sending SASE and moola
- money - to Equal, James Madison University,
P.O. Box 8166, Harrisonburg VA 22801
Choose either "FUCKATAMPON," "ANTI-TAMPON
ask me why," or "SEX+" (for
a sex positive world)
Registration Form: Please copy this form and
send it with your money to us at James Madison
University, P.O. Box 8166, Harrisonburg VA
22801 or email it back
Do you need housing? ____Fri ____Sat
Do you need meals? ____Sat. Breakfast ____Sat.
Do you need child care? ___________
Would you/your organization like to purchase
a literature table? __________ ($20)
Conference Costs: $8 Pre-Registration til March
Total $$$ Amount included:__________________
(or you may pay at the registration table)
Is this the new millennium or even century?
You can get the correct information
if you go to these pages published by the U S Naval Observatory:
A comprehensive site from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich will put right any doubts:
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: "Are Vaginal Tampons Prejudicial to Health?"(proof
of British Tampax ad, 1952) - Translation of some Japanese text of ads and
illustrations for menstrual underpants and homemade pads - Promotional
leaflet for New Freedom pads (about 1971, Kotex, U.S.A.)
© 2000 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