From one of the authors of the Spanish book El tabú
I finally had some time to come back to MUM and I was so pleased to see our book (El tabú= Taboo) on the pages [see below]! Thanks for your comments about the cover. The book is selling quite well and Clara and I have a lot of fun doing interviews (nearly always with women journalists). Probably we could make an article with those conversations we have had about menstruation. The most common question is: Are you sure that menstruation is still a taboo? (What would you answer? [I'd say, hedging, I guess, "somewhat."]
I wanted also to say we have some problems contacting MUM on the regular Internet address (www.mum.org <http://www.mum.org>) and we have to go inside writing www.mum.org/director <http://www.mum.org/director> . Other Spanish people told me the same. In our book we give only the regular address that worked perfectly last year! Could you do something? [Anyone else have problems? I can't even guess what the problem is.]
With our best regards ,
Margarita Rivière y Clara de Cominges
What did "stone-age" women use for menstruation?
Jean Auel, in her books about Ayla, the stone-age wonder-woman, has her character using rabbit furs during her periods.
MS Auel's books (Clan of the Cave Bear, Valley of Horses, Mammoth Hunters, Plains of Passage), are, to the best of my knowledge, fairly well researched. It might be interesting if you were to contact her about this particular item.
[I'm increasingly convinced that many women in the past used nothing at all. I'll put some information on the site in the future about this. Read some musings on this problem.]
How many women menstruate? And the Keeper menstrual cup [more info here] is safe
My name is [withheld], and I'm attempting to find out some information and statistics as to approximately how many women in the world are menstruating, and also how much waste from the usage of tampons and pads is created each year. The MUM site is so large, that I found searching for this information quite difficult and I'm hoping that you can help. [I agree. I added the search box to make it easier, but it still can be tough.]
Would it be possible for you to point me in the right direction? I would really appreciate that. [It's a tough thing to even try to answer, but I wrote her what I thought would be helpful.]
As well, there was a letter in your Web site that was thoroughly abhorrent towards the usage of menstrual cups [probably on this page]. I understand that you do not endorse anything, but simply pass information along [correct].
Therefore, I would like to share with you that the Keeper has been available since 1985, has been FDA approved, and although the company cannot "state" that you cannot contract toxic shock syndrome [TSS] from it, there has not been ONE case of TSS linked to the usage of the Keeper since the time of its appearance on the market. As this product does not absorb any fluid, has no synthetics or dioxins from the bleaching process, and it simply holds the fluid in place (like it was in the womb, only a bit lower) until it is time to extract it. [Read MUM board member Dr. Philip Tierno's comments about the Keeper.]
Perhaps you could pass that information along as well.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
And speaking of the Keeper (and Instead), she tried both, but gave up
I have tried both Instead and the Keeper [menstrual cups. Web sites: the Keeper and Instead.]
Instead was definitely more comfortable for me. It stayed in place, did not leak, and was relatively easy to insert and remove due to the flexibility of the material. Of course I would feel better if it were reusable.
I was very enthusiastic about the Keeper but gave up on it after a few cycles. I found it very difficult to insert; keeping it folded up is no small feat! Several times I lost my grip on it before it was in place, and found it very painful when it unfolded before it was far enough inside me. Once I had it in I could often feel it. I really wish the rubber were less rigid and more flexible. I had to trim the tail down to almost nothing so that it didn't stab me while I was walking or sitting. Of course this gave me even less to hold onto when I was trying to remove it. It is very effective - no leaks. Maybe I should persevere and with use the rubber would soften, but how many years of pain and discomfort would that take?
I really like the concept of a menstrual cup [read a short history of cups]. Not contributing to land fills is great, and I also really like the fact that these products work no matter how heavy or light your flow is - not like trying to guess which absorbency tampon to use. However, I'm not convinced that a menstrual cup can be safely left in for longer than a tampon. I have since abandoned both Instead and the Keeper after suffering from very persistent vaginal infections. I'm stuck back at square one with o.b. tampons again. I am very enthusiastic about menstrual cups but haven't yet enjoyed the success and satisfaction I was so eagerly expecting!
Enroll in Vulva University
We love your museum, but were disappointed to not be in one of your many wonderful displays. Perhaps you have not seen the Wondrous Vulva Puppet or our free online classes about women's sexual health at Vulva University?
Please come take a look!
The Vulvalution WILL be televised!
Kristy Lin Billuni
Sex Through The Eyes Of Women
Home of the Wondrous Vulva Puppet and Vulva University
Future tampon-art Web site
I was researching sites and found your wonderful Museum of Menstruation.
I am currently putting together www.tamponart.com [it launches in June] for Doris Cain, who lives in San Francisco. I live in London, though Doris and I have been friends for years.
The way it all started was a friend of mine made a little mouse out of a tampon, little ears and eyes and of course the string was the tale. He gave it to me and I said, "Hmmm, nice . . . ," then put it on my computer with some other little toys. Doris came over one day and went crazy over it. She organised a party to make Tampon Art and the rest is history. We have more than 350 separate works form contributing artists and will be showing 120 in the gallery on the site. Other sections of the site have to do with health and advice, articles, awards and charity events as well as links to useful places on the web which is where you and the Museum of Menstruation come in.
Would it be alright if we list you as one of our recommended places? [I'd be honored!]
More from Bali:
Hello Mr. Finley,
A personal "funny " about my own experience while living in Bali.
When it came time for my menses to come it was a daily routine to get every relative I could find and on an adventure of finding "tampons."
I know this sounds bizarre, but in Bali it's a big taboo to insert any object inside the vagina at menses. (Only a pad here and there is found.)
We would go to not only store after store, but village after village, looking for "tampons." Not one on the entire island !!!!!
At one point I gave up and sat in the sand (letting myself drip ) while my relatives would search on for hours.
When I returned to California (where I am today ) I made it my new search to find alternatives in tampons. That's how I found your Web site, a link from Gladrags.
I will write more with unusual facts from Bali regarding menses.
Read her first message, from the last update:
Balinese menstrual customs, and using human hair to stop menstruation
I wanted to say I enjoyed or am enjoying your Web site on menstruation. The thoughts and articles are interesting.
My input is from a Balinese viewpoint. I just got back from living in Bali (my nationality is Indonesian) and the ins and outs of how the Balinese regard women's blood is different, to say the least. Yes, in the temples it is a big no-no to enter but it goes further than that - the whole thing with the undergarments being taboo.
I have to find my books and get back to you on details if you are interested. [Yes!] I will contact you.
I am a homeopath by profession and have in my studies about homeopathy and alternative healings come up with some bizarre things about the flow of blood during menses - like in Chinese medicine using human hair (burnt) to stop the flow. Yes, it works.
Do you want sexier underpants for menstruation?
I have just spent the entire evening browsing through MUM. I was led to the Web site through the latest issue of the Australian Dolly Magazine.
At the moment, I am in the process of researching and developing a new style of menstrual brief (you see, they have given us wings but we are not able to fly, due to the fact that they are visible to the outside of our crotch), or am I the only women who feels like this? This, along with a few other problems, gave way to an innovation for a sexier style of brief. A women wants to feel secure, safe and any other word you care to use, but most of all she wants to feel like a women and if you look (which you obviously have) at what creations have gone before it's no wonder they didn't succeed.
For any new product to be successful it should be proven that there is a significant market. I would like to ask if you would be prepared to run a copy of the following survey at MUM [the survey was not included in the e-mail, but I hope to have it soon] to assist me in seeing whether or not my idea is worth pursuing.
Congratulations on a fabulous Web site.
A male teacher discusses the racial purity in Safe Counsel or Practical Eugenics
Two days ago I was browsing in a Flea Market close to my apartment in River Ridge, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans, when I ran across a copy of this notorious book [Safe Counsel or Practical Eugenics]. I'm a school teacher and collector of antique books, so naturally it sparked my curiosity. I have to admit, the quality of most of the engravings is pretty good, although I believe a good portion of them are stock all-purpose illustrations which were used in a variety of publications from that era. I decided to do a Web search and see if Jefferis' book had left any sort of legacy. Lo and behold, I found your commentary.
Are you familiar with his 1895 edition titled Light on Dark Corners? [No.] In this edition he advises bathing at least once a week and discloses his "facts on blackheads" (the blemish variety). He claims that they're actually worms which live in the skin. I found this book at a junk shop about fifteen years ago. It also has many engravings done by a variety of artists. In fact, some of them have shown up in other nineteenth-century books I've managed to find. An illustration of a cad trying to seduce a young woman in Dark Corners also shows up in an early edition of Francis Hodgeson Burnett's novel The One I Knew the Best of All.
I teach eighth grade reading in a public school, and for the past three weeks we've been reading The Diary of Anne Frank. We've discussed the Holocaust and Hitler's ideas on "racial purity." I knew that some of Hitler's ideas were founded in the eugenics movement, but I had no idea how closely tied all of this was. Mein Kampf was actually published the same year as Mr. Jefferis' Safe Counsel. I've only covered the first chapter of this book so far since it is difficult to read his rationale without becoming indignant. I want to encourage your efforts, and if I've strayed too far from the point, I apologize. There are just so many things he attacks that I find myself using a multi-front approach. I'm looking forward to reading some more of your comments in future Web searches.
Woman from India wants to contribute to MUM
Wow, you have stepped on a land mine!
I am from India and I work in the area of reproductive health communication with non-iterate groups. Currently I have a fellowship under the FLD Programme of the MacArthur Foundation. My project has just developed an "easy-to-stitch" sanitary napkin for young village girls. While I was doing that, I was surfing madly to find more information - chanced on your site - it is superb!!! [Thanks!] But then can you please do something about the long downloads? I am afraid to look at my phone bill this month! [I apologize, but I try to make the graphics as small as possible while still being useful.]
I would also like to contribute to your site. [Great!] I am waiting to formalise more of my work, then I can send you snippets to add in.
Keep up the terrific project you have started. Meanwhile I would really appreciate it if you could let me know if there are some other sites on the same subject. I would be really grateful as this could increase my knowledge and understanding of the subject.
[See other work in India similar to that of the writer's.]
Online journal for menstruation
Dear Mr. Finley,
I've been a fan of mum.org for quite a while. I've even mentioned your site in my online journal several times. A wonderful friend of mine, who happens to be a man, started a community journal, which by now has over a hundred contributors, that anybody could join called "The Menstrual Hut." I thought it might be something interesting for you to read in light of your museum (which I hope you open soon since I'm a Maryland resident). Anyway, if your interested, the url is:
I hope you keep adding more and more to your site.
It's wonderful. [Many thanks!]
Scotto's (the guy who started this project) personal journal: http://scottobear.livejournal.com
Book about menstruation published in Spain
The Spanish journalist who contributed some words for menstruation to this site last year and wrote about this museum (MUM) in the Madrid newspaper "El País" just co-authored with her daughter a book about menstruation (cover at left).
She writes, in part,
Dear Harry Finley,
As I told you, my daughter (Clara de Cominges) and I have written a book (called "El tabú") about menstruation, which is the first one to be published in Spain about that subject. The book - it talks about the MUM - is coming out at the end of March and I just said to the publisher, Editorial Planeta, to contact you and send you some pages from it and the cover as well. I'm sure that it will be interesting to you to have some information about the book that I hope has enough sense of humour to be understood anywhere. Thank you for your interest and help.
If you need anything else, please let me know.
Belen Lopez, the editor of nonfiction at Planeta, adds that "Margarita, more than 50 years old, and Clara, 20, expose their own experiences about menstruation with a sensational sense of humour." (Later this month more information will appear on the publisher's site, in Spanish.)
My guess is that Spaniards will regard the cover as risqué, as many Americans would. And the book, too. But, let's celebrate!
Two weeks ago I mentioned that Procter & Gamble was trying to change attitudes in the Spanish-speaking Americas to get more women to use tampons, specifically Tampax - a hard sell.
Compare this cover with the box cover for the Canadian television video about menstruation, Under Wraps, and the second The Curse.
An American network is now developing a program about menstruation for a popular cable channel; some folks from the network visited me recently to borrow material.
And this museum lent historical tampons and ads for a television program in Spain last year.
Now, if I could only read Spanish! (I'm a former German teacher.)
If you had a party or created a ritual to celebrate your first period, we would be interested in hearing your story and seeing your videos, pictures.
This would be for possible inclusion in a television documentary called
Reinventing Rituals, Coming of Age in a Modern World for Vision Television, in Canada.
Series consultant is Ron Grimes, internationally recognized expert on ritual and the author of numerous books on ritual including his most recent, Deeply Into the Bone, Reinvented Rite of Passage.
These three one hour specials, Coming of Age in the Modern World; Marriage Separation and Divorce; and Birth and Death are co-production between Northern Lights Television in Toronto and Ocean Entertainment in Halifax for Vision Television Network. They will air on Vision TV, a Canadian specialty channel whose mandate is to cover multi-faith, multicultural stories about the human spirit.
Reinventing Rituals will explore exotic cultures and ceremonies that may, on the surface, bear little resemblance to the hallmarks of our own lives. We will witness dramatic initiation ceremonies from Africa, complex funerals from New Guinea, and elaborate wedding and courtship rituals from South America. Viewers will become acquainted with traditional rites from many different cultures, contemporary and historic.
However, at the core of this series are the North Americans who are exploring new ways to mark transitions. We'll meet parents who are preparing to spend their children out in the mountains to spend grueling days and nights in initiation ceremonies; individuals who are approaching the end of life determined to design all aspects of their own funerals; and expectant couples who are redefining appropriate behaviour in the birthing room. This series is about these men and women and their quest to reinvent traditional rites of passage; but it's also about the connections that can be drawn between these modern pioneers and their counterparts in other times and places.
Program #1 The Bridge: Coming of Age in the Modern Reinventing Rites of Passage.
Reinventing Rituals is a compelling series of television documentaries that explore the dramatic resurgence in ritual and how it is being interpreted or recreated in order to give meaning to our lives.
From first menstruation ceremonies to vision quests, traditional societies have used ritual to help young people mark and make the transition from adolescence to adulthood. All but abandoned by Western culture, initiation rituals are suddenly becoming more popular.
The increasing profile of street gangs, drug wars, and teenage promiscuity in our communities have contributed to rising the popularity of the coming of age rituals. Many parents fear that if they do not provide an initiation scenario their children will initiate themselves using sex, drugs or dangerous behaviour. By enrolling their children in complex and often dramatic initiation rites, families can help young people make the difficult transition to adulthood. In this program we meet youth at the National Rites of Passage Institute in Cleveland Ohio who have spent the past year in a coming of age program. And then we'll join up with teenagers who've enrolled in a 10 day-long program outside Calgary, Alberta as they prepare to spend three World
If you are interested and/or need more information, contact
Deannie Sullivan Fraser
SNAIL MAIL: Ocean ENTERTAINMENT, SUITE 404, 1657 BARRINGTON STREET, HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA B3J 2A1
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.