Letters to your MUM
Dear Mr. Finley:
First of all I'd like to thank you for creating MUM - it's an amazing
site and I was quite gratified (and at times vastly amused) that I found
it. [It's fun to do; thanks!]
I publish a free e-zine every two weeks called
"ALCHEMY" which (generally) reviews metaphysical sites of interest
on the Internet. However, as editor, I stretch my powers as far as I can
and on occasion feature other sites that I just plain like and that I think
my readers can benefit from seeing.
I featured your site in the current issue of Alchemy which you may
view at http://www.alchemy2go.com/current.htm.
It was a pleasure to be able to include your site in my e-zine, and
continued success to you!
Menstrual odor's neighborhood gets a new
My ex-student Anne Kitchell just contacted me regarding her report
Menstrual Cycles and Odors [very interesting
article] which you have wisely reproduced
on your Web site [I was afraid NOT to reproduce it, because I was worried
the link might be lost - and it was]. The link address to the original
article does not work, not because it was dropped, but rather the domain
name was changed from "scarolina" to "sc."
Thanks, and thanks for taking an interest. Three students worked together
on the topic of smell myths, identifying 10 "myths" and bringing
together literature supporting or debunking each. Anne's
effort was, I thought, both courageous and creative. Reading her
note, she seems very pleased to have her effort noted.
University of South Carolina (U.S.A.)
A menstrual extractor
appeared in the 1970s
There is a book called Our Bodies, Ourselves
published by Boston Women's Health Book Collective. It discussed an extractor
that was in use in the Seventies. [See another extraction
device and read more information.]
It was discontinued due to risk of infection.
New doctor comments on advertising, PMS and douching
Dear Mr. Finley,
I am extremely amused by your MUM site (although my amusement is tinged
by sadness when I think what it must have been like to grow up 50 or 60
years ago reading advertisements that so boldly imply that is something
wrong with women's natural bodily functions!). [That still happens! See
some shameful ads.]
I recently graduated from medical school, and although I did not choose
to specialize in OB/Gyn [obstetrics/gynecology] naturally as a woman I
was quite interested in our studies of female reproductive-tract physiology.
Did you know, for instance, that PMS [premenstrual
syndrome] appears to be a culture-based phenomenon? I.e., you don't
hear about PMS as a problem in some societies, whereas other societies
have other psychological phenomena that are widely accepted but unheard
of in our (U.S./European type) society. I personally haven't experienced
many PMS symptoms that we hear so much about, but I know that these symptoms
are very real for many women so I will try to track down this study and
send you the reference because it's interesting food for thought. [The
ancient Greek physician Hippocrates wrote of PMS and concluded that menstruation
relieves it, which is true. But he then thought that blood loss might help
sick men, too, so he recommended opening the veins of men, a practice which
lasted through the 20th century.]
And it was also interesting to me to observe from talking to patients
that practices like douching are alive and
well in certain ethnic groups and in people of lower educational background
and lower socioeconomic status. Evidently old ideas die hard. Your information about altering normal vaginal flora by
douching actually increasing susceptibility to infection or overgrowth
of odor-causing bacteria is exactly right; by douching,
these women can be actually causing their problems! Normal vaginal
flora is odorless, but a common problem of overgrowth of the wrong type
of bacteria causing an oder is called "bacterial vaginosis" and
can be quickly and easily treated with an antibiotic.
A very interesting site. I have bookmarked it and will recommend it
Dr. Erin Welch
Student at the University of Weimar, in Germany,
seeks to explain the current menstruation
"taboo" in advertising; can you help her?
Dear Mister Finley,
I was stunned when I first visited your Web site, because it contains
a lot of information I am looking for.
I am a 25-year-old graphic-design student from Germany, doing my final
project on - guess what? - advertising tampons.
I was fed up with all those happy women in white
pants, hoping across my tv screen and announcing that they feel so self
assured because of a certain product.
In your FAQ section you said that menstruation
was and is a taboo subject in several cultures. I only have a rough overview
over the advertising history in that field here in Germany but I somehow
got the impression that we are moving backwards.
After a period of brave and educating ads in the 1970s we are returning
now to overcautiousness and the blue replacement
liquid [I speculated that it may have come from the popular blue color
of pad boxes mentioned in the Lillian
Gilbreth report to Johnson & Johnson in 1927).
For me it is a little hard to understand, especially if one has in mind
that people seem to break the last taboos in the
daily talk on tv [this is true].
I was wondering if you might be able to help me understand by giving
me some book recommendations for the marketing of female hygiene articles.
I browsed through your book list, but it seems
that it is more medical books. Or maybe I have overseen something.
Hope to hear from you.
[I e-mailed her the following suggestions; can anybody
on this MUM site
How to sell Kotex,
page for trade publications, probably early 1920s, U.S.A. mum.org/kotdispl.htm
"Your Image is Your Fortune!" Modess sales-hints booklet for stores, 1967 (U.S.A.)
some books and articles in English:
Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash,
by Susan Strasser, 1999, Henry Holt (publisher, USA)
The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation,
by Delaney, Janice, Mary Jane Lupton and Emily Toth New York: Dutton, 1988
(USA) (I think)
The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable
Taboo: Menstruation, by Karen Houppert (Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
1999 - here's a review of the book)
"Marketing the Unmentionable: Wallace Meyer
and the Introduction of Kotex," by Anne M. Spurgeon, in the
American journal The Maryland Historian, vol. XIX, no. 1, 1988
and the German book
Die unpäßliche Frau, by Sabine
Hering and Gudrun Maierhof (Pfaffenweiler, Germany, 1991).]
[By the way, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German icon and writer (he
wrote Faust and is one of the world's great lyric poets), administrator
and scientist lived in Weimar, where the student studies; and the Weimar
Republic was Germany between the end of World War I and the Third Reich.]
Call for Submissions: "The 100 Best Things
Looking for one-liners up to three paragraphs describing a "best
thing" about menstruation: Health-related, cultural, artistic; an
experience shared with an older or younger relative, or with a partner;
a dream, political statement, joke, proverb, and/or something overheard
at a party; scientific, sexual and/or religious . . . .
Be creative, be precise,
and make it a one-liner up to three paragraphs.
The book will start out with best thing #1:
Which is a "joke" given to me by a woman in Australia - however,
I think it accurately expresses the menstruphobia most people feel, and
is a good starting point for the general audience
the book is aimed at.
From there, the book is a journey through all stages and aspects of
the lifetime menstrual cycle - and the last several "best things"
will be about menopause. So hopefully the reader will be brought full circle
- they will recognize their own menstruphobia in the first best thing,
but by the end of the book, they may be surprised to find themselves feeling
a bit . . . menstrufriendly!
Please include contact information for you and/or your group EXACTLY
as you would wish it to appear in the book - I think it will save a bit
of hassle down the road!
Any best things that don't make it into the book will be included in
a section on the Menstrual Monday Web site entitled "More Best Things
About Menstruation." I'd like the book to be
a snapshot of the worldwide menstrual movement in year 2000 - so
just like a group photo, there's going to be some adjusting and moving
people around and asking people to tilt their head a bit to the left, etc.
. . i.e., as editor of the book, I may e-mail back and ask you to expand
your best thing(s), or give some specific examples . . . so I hope that's
not going to put anybody off!!!
Here's another sample best thing:
#43. Cramping at the Savoy
I know it's traditional to lie in bed with a hot water bottle or heating
pad when one has cramps, but I can remember working in a fast-food restaurant,
and one day when I had my period, I'd worked an eight-hour shift from 6
am to 2 pm, and later that night, went dancing at 9 pm . . . I can remember
being on the crowded dance floor, and shouting up to my partner, "the
dancing's made my cramps go away!" and him shouting back (although
I could barely hear him above the music): "GOOD!!!"
So maybe the whole purpose of having cramps is to propel us onto the
Working deadline is October 1, 2000, for submissions.
Please feel free to e-mail me with your "best things," and
any questions or comments you may have!
Geneva Kachman [who has written poetry and
essays on this site and had toxic shock syndrome.
She founded Menstrual Monday.]
You have privacy here
What happens when you visit this site?
I get no information about you from any
source when you visit, and I have no idea who you
are, before, during or after your visit.
This is private - period.
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!
© 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