The Messy Politics of Menstrual Activism [chapter]

Chris Bobel, Breanne Fahs
2020 The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies  
What We talk about When We talk about Menstruation 1 When we pay attention to menstrual health and its potential to inspire political resistance, we tap into a complex and enduring project of loosening the social control of women's bodies. Menstrual activism works to move embodiment from object to subject status-to see the body not as trivial or unimportant, but as something foundational, urgent, and politically relevant. When we take seriously the (menstruating) body, we link up with others
more » ... k up with others who engage in critical embodiment work, from human trafficking to eating disorders to sexual assault. This is why #menstruationmatters (https://twitter. com/hashtag/menstruationmatters) really should be a rallying call for everyone who cares about social justice and gender equality. Menstruation unites the personal and the political, the intimate and the public, the minutiae and the bigger stories about the body. It IS about so much more than blood. It may not be obvious at first but those working to improve menstrual health, whether using humor, poetry, empirical research, school curricula, or promoting a better menstrual absorbent, must counter the internalization of destructive messages about womanhood including notions of bodies as messy, unruly things that need to be tidied up, medicated, plucked, smoothed, and trimmed. "Managing" menstrual cycles evokes the range of activities and practices that women do to "manage" other parts of their bodies, including grooming body hair, making fashion choices, hiding breastfeeding, losing weight, and more. In this essay, we argue that feminists must challenge generations of silence and shame © The Author(s) 2020 C. Bobel et al. (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies, https://doi.
doi:10.1007/978-981-15-0614-7_71 fatcat:oy4vwvazsbcn5l5tc2lwemzs3a