Disposal bags, and MUM a candidate for a wacky museum in The Guardian
[Mel Terras, of Christ Church, University of Oxford, England - she contributed many of the pad disposal bags on the site - writes,]
Hi there, Harry,
There is a site called bagmedia (www.bagmedia.com) that is printing adverts on disposal bags. I'm sending you one that advertises The Guardian [newspaper] secretarial job adverts section. Cos yeah, only secretaries get periods ;) Maybe if you got in touch they could send you over some more samples.
Well, I'm nearly finished my time at Oxford. I should be Dr Mel by the end of January ;) I'm off to advise the government on technology at the Royal Academy of Engineers at Westminster.
Good luck with finding a permanent home for the museum. BTW, you got a mention in today's Guardian [the following letter]: (http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,836605,00.html)
Nobody has mentioned the Museum of Menstruation (Letters, November 8). I haven't been there - it's in the US - but the website is fascinating (www.mum.org) It was set up by a man, too.
They have been doing a feature on wacky museums. I don't think your museum is wacky, but there you go!
"I can virtually guarantee you there was no 'ogling' going on during the [nude] Cathy Rigby shoot by Sports Illustrated."
[When Cathy Rigby was a gymnast - she also made a famous series of ads for Stayfree pads; see and read about her, the ads and the photo in question - she posed nude for Sports Illustrated magazine. Four years ago someone who claimed to be "familiar" with her e-mailed me and suggested that Riby was "abused" by the act of posing nude.]
[I] got curious about Rigby after seeing her on TV last night, and found your site today.
Regarding the December 1998 e-mail on your Rigby page, in which the writer states:
"Imagine your daughter sitting around nude while the photographer's crew ogled and set up the next shot with these poses. She was the object. Abuse was not a word yet in vogue."
This is a person with a political agenda and unresolved personal issues. This is also an ignorant person.
As a professional photographer for over 25 years, I have shot every subject from professional sports to major music festivals. I have also shot nudes. Based on a quarter century in the industry, I can virtually guarantee you there was no "ogling" going on during the Cathy Rigby shoot by Sports Illustrated.
As I have explained many times to wannabe swimsuit photographers, and others who think it's great fun to shoot nude models, it's work! In fact, it's sometimes exceedingly difficult work. Photography on this level is a profession, not a party. You can't screw up, or around, on this job any more than you can on any other. And simply put, if you're "ogling" the models, you are not professional; if you are caught doing anything untoward, you will likely never work in the business again.
To my knowledge, Sports Illustrated has always been a thoroughly professional organization. I find it ludicrous that an anonymous letter writer, who claims to be "someone familiar with Ms. Rigby," would insinuate that an SI photo shoot of a star athlete is little more than a porn session. However "familiar" he/she may be with Ms. Rigby, she is completely ignorant of professional photography.
Seattle - New Orleans
"Shooting the world's best musicians since before Disco"
I have learned a lot from your site. I started my period when I was nine years old (my mom was very displeased with me for doing so, too). Thank God she really didn't share a lot of information with me, and I was able to read the medical books in the public library. I was reading at a college level at that age as well. One of my friend's moms was not prepared for her periods either and couldn't figure out why her BandAid didn't stop the bleeding! I grew up in the north Florida/south Alabama area by the way. My mom said when she was growing up, it was called "falling off the roof." [Read more expressions for menstruation around the world.]
Why do women synchronize menstruation?
Dear Madam, Dear Sir,
Yesterday me and my flatmates (we're all girls) discussed the phenomenon of menstrual synchrony. One of us did not want to believe that such a thing exists and merely thought it to be one of those legends surrounding menstruation. Today, I have looked it up on the Internet and now know that this phenomenon really exists and, thanks to your site, how it works. [Read about it here.]
The only question remaining is: WHY does menstrual synchrony happen???? (Our explanation attempts to this question caused the wildest [and probably most ridiculous] speculations yesterday evening!)
Do you know an answer to this question? Has there been any attempt to explain the reason of this phenomenon?
I would be very grateful if you could help me finding an answer and would like to thank you in advance for your efforts!
[I believe it's suspected that women synchronize by detecting pheromones, the "odorless odor," - my phrase - that menstruating women emit, possibly from their armpits. But why this would change the timing of their periods - is it useful somehow? - I believe is not answered yet. Read more on the Odor page, and the famous article in Nature that first scientifically described menstrual synchrony.]
Speaking of synchrony: The Red Clover Club
In every place I worked or lived, the women's cycles eventually synchronized so that we were all having our periods at the same time. At one office job, we called this "The Red Clover Club," named for an herbal tea that's supposed to ease menstrual woes. Whoever started first was the leader - it was usually the same woman each month. We would jokingly call her "the High Priestess of the Red Clover." When one co-worker became pregnant, all of our cycles got a bit wacky for a month or two - some late, some early - and then eventually we synched up again.
*** from Philadelphia
Learn about birth control on the Internet
Love your site!!
Please link our site to yours:
Ann Rose's Ultimate Birth Control Links Page
has recently been updated and redesigned to be more user friendly and informative.
AnnRose's page is one of the most linked birth control sites on the Internet. Don't take our word for it. Just go to any of the major search engines and do a search for "birth control," or any specific method. We're sure Ultimate Birth Control will come up sooner rather than later.
AnnRose's Ultimate Birth Control Links has been online since June of 1996, and has established a reputation on the Internet parallel to the major advocacy organizations.
AnnRose, as the "Dear Abby" of birth control on the internet, gets 10-20 e-mails per day from worried teenagers, women with questions, concerned boys and men, and others requesting information and help with sexual information and birth control advice.
If you have any suggestions for other links, please e-mail me back.
"Holding it in": what do you know about Native American menstrual customs?
Do you have anything about Native American practice? My niece's roommate is Indian, and doesn't use pads or tampons during the day. She says they were taught to "hold it in." Is there any other such lore?
[Reply to email@example.com]
See her menstrual art
I'd like to thank you for your fabulous site.
If you are taking menstrual art submissions, please consider my works [see here]. I'd be delighted to be linked on your site, and add a link to MUM from mine, if you agree.
She defends a man's doing this Web site, "Naughty Bits," and jokes
Hey, I've been home sick and looking at MUM all day, and surprised how interesting I've found it. On the subject of a man doing what you're doing: yes, you can't know exactly how it feels, but I'm not sure it's logical to object on this basis. I don't think the curators of the Egyptian section at the Metropolitan Museum of Art have personal experience of being ancient Egyptians. There are war-related museums all over and I suspect most of the people running them are not combat veterans at all, and certainly are not veterans of, say, the American Civil War. Are cancer specialists required to have had cancer? Do special education teachers have to be mentally handicapped themselves?
Sure, it's vital to have comments from those who've been there -- no cancer researcher would decide a treatment was good unless it had been tried by real patients, and Dr. Gilbreth was totally right about J&J needing a woman on staff. But that doesn't mean men have to stay out of it completely.
Now to my actual point, and please don't post my name with any of this.
First, I recommend the comic book Naughty Bits. It's not devoted solely to menstruation, but menstruation is a frequent aggravation to the often aggravated anti heroine, Midge, better known as Bitchy Bitch. (She's like that even when she doesn't have PMS.) This is definitely an adult comic. It's explicit and even shocking at times, in language, subject, and image. One that particularly came to mind that's relevant to MUM is a panel showing Bitchy on the toilet inserting a tampon. But it does have a point and it's not just to be offensive. Bitchy is ultimately a rather pathetic character, and I mean that in the more classical sense of pathos. She had a sad childhood and has a difficult mother. I feel sorry for her. But oh, sometimes I feel just like she does. And that's why the comic works - the same reason most art succeeds - it captures something that everyone, and especially every woman, has felt themselves, frustrations that everyone experiences.
I also like the way it's drawn. Bitchy's mouth has a million shapes.
Most of them are angry, all are expressive. Anyway, I've gone on a bit long. Naughty Bits is rarely available on the stands at comic shops but they can easily order it. You can also check it out and order copies at the author's Web site, www.robertagregory.com.
Now I have two fairly disgusting jokes. You get to be the lucky recipient because I'm too squeamish, or something, to ever tell these out loud.
1. This first one is not strictly about menstruation but is still probably closely related.
Q. What's red and slimy and crawls up a woman's leg?
A. A homesick abortion.
I think when I first heard this joke I was in late grade school and barely knew what an abortion even was.
2. This one has the extra bonus of possibly being religiously offensive on top of its general ickiness.
Things were going along OK in the Garden of Eden, until Eve got her first period. Adam freaked - she was *bleeding,* for heaven's sake -- but Eve told him not to worry, she had expected it, and off she went to deal with it.
Adam was still pretty upset, so he had a talk about it with God.
"God," he says anxiously, "Eve is bleeding! I'm really worried there's something wrong!" So God explains everything to Adam, how this is perfectly normal, a sign of Eve's ability to bear children, and so on.
So Adam finally calms down, and then God looks around and says, "Hey, Adam, where is Eve anyway?" Adam says, "Oh, I think she went down to wash in the stream."
"The stream?" says God. "DAMN, I just finished getting rid of that fishy smell!"
[Read more humor here.]
Ok, that's it, have fun.
"It's Your Fucking Body" zine
I'm not sure if you know this, but there are a few zines out there that have to do with menstruation. You can go to www.panderzinedistro.com and look for "It's your fucking body." (It took me some time to find the zines - you need to click on the "e-i" link, and it's on the bottom of the page.) They are cheap and might be a great addition to the museum archives. If I'm not mistaken, the creator of the zines is working on a third one now.
Here is the description of the zine: IT'S YOUR FUCKING BODY #1 & #2 [Meadville, Pennsylvania]
The first two issues of Marie's radical menstruation zine, together. The first issue is a piece taken from Marie's now-defunct zine, miasma. It's all about the evils of corporate tampons and pads, with alternatives to those products. The second issue is subtitled "Reclaiming your cunt" and includes writing on just that, becoming familiar with your cunt and not being afraid to get your hands all bloody. More info on tampons and cycles. The addendum is about trans inclusion in the radical menstruation movement. Great zine that all people who bleed and/or have cunts should read. Actually, I think those without cunts should read it, too. $1/1oz/quarter size/40 pp total + addendum
Call for papers: MENSTRUATION: BLOOD, BODY, BRAND
THE INSTITUTE FOR FEMINIST THEORY AND RESEARCH
LIVERPOOL UNIVERSITY, United Kingdom, 24-26 January 2003
An under-explored territory for the scholar of the body-in-history, the menstrual has remained one of the last taboos of both cultural and academic discourse. A recurrent motif in specifying the body marked female, menstruation has nevertheless remained on the periphery of the feminist second wave. This interdisciplinary conference will bring together various previously disparate critical approaches to construct an evolution of menstruation. It will examine and revisit visual, literary, medical, legal, autobiographical and historical texts.
- Visual Culture and Menstrual (in)Visibility
- Menstrual Technologies
- The "Speaking" Body
- Revising the History of Menstrual "Disorder"
- Theorising the Menstruating Subject
- Female Bodies and "Emission"
- Enlightenment's Menstruator
- Taboo and Totem
- Menopause and Ageing Femininity
- Psychoanalysis and Hysteria
- Advertising Menstruality
- Maternity vs. Menstruation?
- Vampiric/Gothic Menstruation
- Menarche and the Invention of the Teenager
- Periodicity and Images of the Natural
- Dioxin and TSS
- Gaps in the Civilising Process
- Class and Menstruality
- Feminist Waves and Menstrual Evolution
- Menstruation, Statute and Work
- The Wisdom of the Wound?
- Representations of the Bleeding Body
[The MUM director was invited to talk about this museum either in person or by video tape.]
300-Word Abstract Deadline 31st August 2002
Abstracts by Post or by Email Attachment to
School of English
The Queen's Drive
University of Exeter
Exeter EX4 4QH
Phone: (01392) 264265
Fax: (01392) 264361
Participate in three UCLA studies
Dear Mr. Finley,
My students and I are currently conducting three online studies relating to menstruation. We are seeking volunteer participants, women age 18-50, to take a few moments to complete anonymous surveys. I would greatly appreciate it if the Museum could publicize our efforts.
These studies have been approved by the University of California Los Angeles Office for the Protection of Research Subjects; participation is on a strictly anonymous, strictly voluntary, and unpaid basis.
Participants can access each of the surveys by clicking on the Web links below:
Disgust and the Menstrual Cycle
Subjective Changes over the Menstrual Cycle
An Investigation of Opinions about Incest and the Menstrual Cycle
(for women over 18)
Many thanks in advance,
Daniel M.T. Fessler
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
390 Haines Hall, Box 951553
University of California Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1553
tel. 310 794-9252
fax 310 206-7833
Canadian TV film about menstruation Under Wraps now called Menstruation: Breaking the Silence and for sale
Read more about it - it includes this museum (when it was in my house) and many interesting people associated publically with menstruation. Individual Americans can buy the video by contacting
Films for the Humanities
P.O. Box 2053
Princeton, NJ 08543-2053
Toll free order line: 1-800-257-5126
Canadians purchase it through the National Film Board of Canada.
Did your mother slap you when you had your first period?
If so, Lana Thompson wants to hear from you.
The approximately 4000 items of this museum will go to Australia's largest museum . . .
if I die before establishing the Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health as a permanent public display in the United States (read more of my plans here). I have had coronary angioplasty; I have heart disease related to that which killed all six of my parents and grandparents (some when young), according to the foremost Johns Hopkins lipids specialist. The professor told me I would be a "very sick person" if I were not a vegetarian since I cannot tolerate any of the medications available. Almost two years ago I debated the concept of the museum on American national television ("Moral Court," Fox Network) and MUM board member Miki Walsh (see the board), who was in the audience at Warner Brothers studios in Hollywood, said I looked like a zombie - it was the insomnia-inducing effect of the cholesterol medication.
And almost two years ago Megan Hicks, curator of medicine at Australia's Powerhouse Museum, the country's largest, in Sydney, visited MUM (see her and read about the visit). She described her creation of an exhibit about the history of contraception that traveled Australia; because of the subject many people had objected to it before it started and predicted its failure. But it was a great success!
The museum would have a good home.
I'm trying to establish myself as a painter (see some of my paintings) in order to retire from my present job to give myself the time to get this museum into a public place and on display permanently (at least much of it); it's impossible to do now because of the time my present job requires.
An Australian e-mailed me about this:
Wow, the response to the museum, if it were set up in Australia, would be so varied. You'd have some people rejoicing about it and others totally opposing it (we have some yobbos here who think menstruation is "dirty" and all that other rubbish). I reckon it would be great to have it here. Imagine all the school projects! It might make a lot of younger women happier about menstruating, too. I'd go check it out (and take my boyfriend too) :)
Hey, are you related to Karen Finley, the performance artist?? [Not that I know of, and she hasn't claimed me!]
Don't eliminate the ten Regional Offices of the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor
The Bush Administration is planning to propose, in next year's budget, to eliminate the ten Regional Offices of the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor. This decision signals the Administration's intent to dismantle the only federal agency specifically mandated to represent the needs of women in the paid work force.
Established in 1920, the Women's Bureau plays a critical function in helping women become aware of their legal rights in the workplace and guiding them to appropriate enforcement agencies for help. The Regional Offices take the lead on the issues that working women care about the most - training for higher paying jobs and non-traditional employment, enforcing laws against pay discrimination, and helping businesses create successful child-care and other family-friendly policies, to name only a few initiatives.
The Regional Offices have achieved real results for wage-earning women for eighty-one years, especially for those who have low incomes or language barriers. The one-on-one assistance provided at the Regional Offices cannot be replaced by a Web site or an electronic voice mail system maintained in Washington.
You can take action on this issue today! Go to http://capwiz.com/nwlc/home/ to write to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and tell her you care about keeping the Regional Offices of the Women's Bureau in operation. You can also let E. Mitchell Daniels, Jr., Director of the Office of Management and Budget, know how you feel about this. You can write a letter of your own or use one we've prepared for you.
If you find this information useful, be sure to forward this alert to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to sign up to receive Email Action Alerts from the National Women's Law Center at www.nwlc.org/email.
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." (publisher's site)
My guess is that Spaniards will regard the cover as risqué, as many Americans would. And the book, too. But, let's celebrate!
I earlier 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.)
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.