on tuesday the menstrual artists headed to duke of york’s for a festival screening of the film The Moon Inside You. a documentary about international attitudes towards menstruation, menstrual pain and remedies, personal stories and professional “knowledge”. best was the italian gynaecologist who recommended her patients to masturbate away their cramps, scariest was the brazilian doctor who invented some patch that means you won’t bleed at all, and his faux feminist reasoning behind this. illustration says it all really – still from the film.
the film was really nice and quite sweet, but made me just a bit queasy too, as these things tend to. there is such a tendency to counter all bad attitudes towards menstruation (oh, and women in general) with arguments such as “the power of menstruation”. what is that? the hormonal cycle, sure enough, but the film also argued that men have this, although to a lesser degree. women-centred mystical magic? reproductive power? a bond that all women share? i’m notoriously sceptical to these kinds of arguments where the fact that we have a womb and bleed and our hormones affect us makes us powerful or more “in touch” with an array of stuff, from nature to our own creativity. i think periods are a bodily process that have been taken up and given all kinds of social significance, historically and culturally, and that’s it.
of course i agree with the argument that we all loose out on getting to know our own cycles, how they affect us and how we can manage them without being part of a consumer cycle that at the same time separates us from this same knowledge of our own bodies, but i fail to see the seemingly hidden earthy power in this. call me boring.
this is a translation of the text that i wrote about our project for ballers.se, on the theme of “birth”:
Unhygenic, unwanted, dirty, offensive, bloodred beautiful. Birth seems to be about the event that makes the until then hidden on the inside, visible on the outside. Period blood becomes unsanitary and its handling process effectivised as soon as it leaves our bodies, and so shame is produced. Without getting caught in sticky ideas of female creativity and menstruation as a biological source of power, we see period blood as a socially created materia. In our pictures, we illustrate personal feelings of ambivalence, sexuality, connectivity, joy, disgust and normativity in relation to this material discourse. We hope that the pictures we create border between the aesthetically pleasing and the distasteful.