A feminist history of menstruation

A feminist history of menstruation by Metis

One upon a time, in primitive societies menstruating women were made to walk through paddy fields because they were shedding “blood of life” from their bodies that was believed to help crops grow. This theory is only recently been proved to be correct when researchers and scientists have claimed that “cells coming out of menstrual blood are highly regenerative” and scientists have used stem cells from menstrual blood to save limbs[1].

Let us go back a few thousand years – primitive people believed that women were far more powerful than men and if a menstruating woman ran naked through a field in the night, the power of her menstrual blood would destroy all crop worms. It was this power that made ancient South American Indians maintain that humans were created from “moon blood” since fertility was attributed to the moon in early cultures. The gods of the moon, like Ishtar, Quilla, Dschan, Selene, and Luna were female and often linked to fertility. Similarly the Mesopotamian mother goddess, Ninhursag, was believed to have created humans out of her “blood of life” and Mesopotamian women made loam dolls for conception-spell by painting them with their menstrual blood. This would be a perfect place to mention that the meaning of the name of the first man in many religions, Adam, means “bloody loam” and many ancient cultures believed that humans are created from “coagulated blood.”

It was in ancient Egypt that taboo against menstruation can be first found. An inscription at the Hathor temple has a list of gods with their specific dislikes; one god disliked menstruating women because they were seen as extremely powerful and a likely threat to patriarchy. However, in general public sphere menstruation was considered to have a life-giving and healing effect and was used for producing medicines and ointments. Interestingly, menstrual blood was supposed to have a cleansing effect; for example, in ancient spells for mother and child menstrual blood was used as ointment to protect newborns from demons.

In a “Wisdom Text” from ancient Egypt there are hints about menstrual hygiene particularly the ancient use of tampons made from several types of material like flax, papyrus and cotton. It is believed that Isis was the inventor of the first tampon in the form of the “Isis knot[2].” We also now know that “sham menstruation”[3] and “sex-strike” was used by primitive women to oppress men.

Four hundred years before Jesus was born, Greeks firmly believed in the life-giving qualities of menstrual blood. Aristotle wrote in the 4thcentury BC that a fetus was born entirely out of menstrual blood and the role of the man was only to act as a ‘catalyst.’ Gradually Aristotelian view was displaced within 300 years by Greek myths that the woman’s body merely provided a vessel for the child, which was in fact entirely created by semen. Thus, although up till the end of the 18th century and early 19th century it was the Aristotelian theory that was taught in medical schools throughout the world, major world religions took a deep interest in the patriarchal view presented by the later Greek myths. We, therefore, have Scriptures teaching both views: Aristotelian view that a fetus is made entirely of coagulated menstrual blood and the Greek myth that it is made entirely of semen. Both views, we know today, are wrong.

Slowly men began to fear powerful women and aimed to bring them down by firmly establishing patriarchy and teaching that menstruation was taboo:

The Talmud, ancient store of Jewish wisdom, states that if a woman at the beginning of her period passes between two men, she kills one of them. The Lebanese believe that the woman’s shadow causes flowers to wither; a menstruating woman, they say, will kill the horse she rides. Pliny’s “Natural History” states that the touch of a menstruous woman turns wine to vinegar, blights crops, kills seedlings, blasts gardens, rusts iron (especially at the waning of the moon) kills bees and causes mares to miscarry. Frazer records that in Brunswick, Germany, there is a custom that if a menstruating woman assists at the killing of a pig the pork will putrefy[4].

 

A menstruating woman began to be seen as unclean[5], unsafe for others, in distress[6], and even mentally disturbed[7]. Men began keeping away from menstruating women and started to believe that having intercourse with their menstruating wives would harm the women (although today science has offered theories[8] that women feel sexiest and enjoy intercourse the most during their period which actually has benefits for their general health and well-being!). Unfortunately, in many cultures women on their period were put away in “menstrual huts[9]” and shunned completely.

Over time, menstruation became associated with male honour and hence odd traditional practices developed like the Jewish tradition (note: it is not a religiously sanctioned tradition) of slapping a daughter who starts her period. It is believed that the original purpose was to “slap sense” into a newly fertile girl, warning her not to disgrace the family by becoming pregnant out of wedlock; or to “awaken” her out of her childhood slumber and into her role as a Jewish woman. In Hinduism a woman is banned from even approaching a temple[10]; in Judaism and early Christianity a woman had to purify herself after period by sacrificing two turtle doves in the temple. A Muslim woman must also ‘purify’ herself after menstruation by taking a ritual bath. She cannot touch the Quran, fast or pray while menstruating and according to at least one oral tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, menstruation of a woman leads to “deficiency in her religion[11].”

Even today when science has constantly proved men (and women) wrong and cleared many myths associated with menstruation, men use menstruation as an excuse to oppress women by claiming that “women have less of these qualities than men[12]” especially when they are menstruating. There are communities that train their girls to believe that menstruation will make them sick. Studies have now been conducted on the influence of religion on women’s menstrual well-being that show that “women who were most likely to suffer from menstrual pain and problems were the ones whose religion told them they were unclean or that they had to be submissive to men.[13]

Unfortunately women are not trained to capture the power of menstruation which was once widely feared in the ancient world. We are never taught as growing girls that “during the time of bleeding women’s ability to dream, have visions and attain altered states of consciousness is strong.[14]” We are not taught that 4,000 years ago menstruation was neither shame nor taboo but was used as harnessed power making gods out of women. Instead of being taught that the fluctuations of our bodies make us more adaptable and resistant, we are taught by our societies that we have the “curse” – a result of our ‘original sin’, and that we are “unclean” and “in distress.”

Truth is that “menstruation is an initiatory time, when women can potentially open to a highly charged altered state, giving them access to a singular kind of power. The power of self-awareness, deep feeling, knowingness, intuition. A power that matures over time with each cycle” (Alexandra Pope).

Menstruation can be the best time for a powerful spiritual experience.

[1] http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14559-stem-cells-from-menstrual-blood-save-limbs.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=news8_head_dn14559#.VO4B_fmUeSo

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyet

[3] http://www.amazon.com/From-Interaction-Symbol-communication-Literature/dp/9027243441

[4] http://www.asphodel-long.com/html/menstrual_taboos.html

[5] http://www.atruechurch.info/sexduringmenstruation.html

[6] http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=showfatwa&Option=FatwaId&Id=87273

[7] http://peacetvpage.blogspot.com/2013/08/why-muslim-women-not-allowed-praying.html

[8] http://pms.about.com/od/myths/a/menstrual_myths.htm

[9] http://www.longmontacupuncture.net/hut.jpg

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_and_menstruation#Indic

[11] http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/hadith/bukhari/006-sbt.php#001.006.301

[12] http://islamqa.info/en/71338

[13] Luna Yoga: Vital Fertility and Sexuality (1997) by Adelheid Ohlig. Published by Ash Tree Publishing. Also see http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct02/pmdd.aspx

[14] http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct02/pmdd.aspx

Edited on February 25, 2015 

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46 thoughts on “A feminist history of menstruation

  1. Nahida says:

    WOW! Thank you so much for posting this!

  2. Zeina says:

    From what I know is that science has rather proved that it is harmful…

    Dr. Muhiy al-Deen al-‘Alabi said: “It is essential to refrain from having intercourse with a menstruating women because doing so leads to an increase in the flow of menstrual blood, because the veins of the uterus are congested and prone to rupture, and get damaged easily; and the wall of the vagina is also susceptible to injury, so the likelihood of inflammation is increased, which leads to inflammation in the uterus and in the man’s penis, because of the irritation that occurs during intercourse. Having intercourse with a menstruating woman may also be off-putting to both the man and his wife, because of the presence and smell of blood, which may make the man impotent (i.e., uninterested in sex).

    Dr. Muhammad al-Baar said, speaking of the harm that may be caused to the menstruating woman: The lining of the uterus is shed during menstruation, and the uterus is scarred as a result, just like when the skin is flayed. So it is vulnerable to bacteria and the introduction of the bacteria that are to be found at the tip of the penis poses a great danger to the uterus.

    Hence the penetration of the penis into the vagina at the time of menstruation is no more than the introduction of germs at a time when the body is unable to fight them.

    Dr. al-Baar thinks that the harm is not limited to what he describes of the introduction of germs into the uterus and vagina which is difficult to treat, rather it also extends to other things, namely:

    1. The spread of infection to the fallopian tubes, which may then become blocked, which in turn may lead to infertility or ectopic pregnancy, which is the most dangerous kind of pregnancy.
    2. The spread of infection to the urethra, bladder and kidneys; diseases of the urinary tract are usually serious and chronic.
    3. Increase of germs in the menstrual blood, especially gonorrhea germs.

    And I know many non-religious feminists who are in severe pain when they get their period, so the claim that the pain is psychological is not so firm in my opinion.

    However, it should be celebrated in all cases, as should everything else in life be.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Metis says:

      Thank you Zeina. Whatever I have read on the subject, there was one study done in 1997 that theorised that having sex during period can be harmful but the following year the researchers put forward their new results that increased bleeding didn’t have anything to do with sex during period.

      I have never read anywhere else the many problems that Dr. Muhiy al-Deen al-‘Alabi outs forward. I was discussing the verse 2:222 with a sheikha and she gave her opinion that the verse actually refers the ‘harm’ or ‘hurt’ for the man and not for the woman. She is of the opinion that sex during period is harmful for the man because the menstrual blood is seen as unclean and can cause diseases in a man. She explained that the verse continues to instruct men to approach women when they are ‘clean’ indicating that the subject of the verse is men. This was also an ancient belief that the blood would shoot up the penis and pollute it (read Misogyny: the male malady). What I’m saying is that the verse is not clear whether the harm is indicated for women or men so medical research done into this from an Islamic PoV would have to be directed towards who we believe the Quran is referring to – men or women.

      • Zeina says:

        I’m the worst when it comes to biology honestly, so I wouldn’t know. The medical gibberish sounded coherent (and who knows, it could be) so I thought of sharing it. But it could be completely false, which is also fine.
        And as you said the verse is actually addressing men not women, so it could be about them.
        At the end of the day, the verse says “harm”. God telling us that its harmful (regardless to whom) and that we should abstain from sex during that time should be more than enough, we really shouldn’t need a medical justification. That’s how I see it. What do you think?

        Of course it doesn’t justify the taboos that have generated over the years, this is something completely different. I’ve even heard that women are spared the physical effort of praying and such because of the amount of pain that they go through. And they can’t touch the Quran because blood (just like urine and the like) is impure (this does not in any way make the woman unclean and improper and impure) it’s just the blood that nullifies the ablution. I think.

        • Metis says:

          “At the end of the day, the verse says “harm”. God telling us that its harmful (regardless to whom) and that we should abstain from sex during that time should be more than enough, we really shouldn’t need a medical justification. That’s how I see it. What do you think?”

          I think Science changes every other day so even if doctors say today that it is not harmful it doesn’t mean that they won’t find something new tomorrow. Medical science may prove it to be harmful eventually.

          • Nahida says:

            I agree. It absolutely does not need medical justification, but if we were to consider it, it probably will turn out to be harmful.

            • Lat says:

              Interesting to know about the ‘harm’ and who it might be referring to.All along I thought it was harm for the women.About the blood,I think I read it in an Islamic site that it’ not impure as men who bled did pray,as discussed before.I also think how pre-Islamic Arabs practiced or other areas where Islam spread or since it was an offshoot from Judaic laws,such menstrual views affected women’s participation in religious practices.Simply put it was just one other way to put women down.

              • Zeina says:

                III. Wudhu or Ablution is nullified by several acts. This means that one has to repeat his or her wudhu when any of the following acts occur:

                Natural discharge; that which comes out from the two private parts (front and back) such as urine, stool, wind, excretion, blood and the like.
                Flow of blood or pus from any part of the body.
                Full mouth vomiting
                Falling asleep, while lying down or reclining.
                Loss of consciousness
                Touching the uncovered private parts, whether intentionally or not.

                This is for both men and women 🙂

                • Metis says:

                  Men did pray while bleeding from wounds received in wars. It is reported that Omar Ibn Khattab prayed while blood oozed out of his body after he was stabbed. Maybe the blood of martyrs is seen are pure?

                • Nahida says:

                  I don’t think some have purer blood than others in terms of praying, no matter what they do. After all, if that’s the case, why shouldn’t the menstrual blood of women be viewed as pure? It’s like the serum of life!

  3. Sara says:

    Very interesting!
    I’ve always wanted to do a comprehensive study of menstruation in Islam.
    I think for men it has always been the ultimate threat: women can produce life, and men can’t.

    • Metis says:

      Thanks Sara! That would make a wonderful study. I think menstruation is very central to women’s role in Islam since many of women’s roles are linked to it – age for marriage, iddah, sexuality etc.

  4. Serenity says:

    What an informative piece! Thank you, Metis!

    I don’t see menstruation as a threat to men, although if it is indeed so for some men, shame on them. I do, however, wonder something. The importance of menstruation cannot be denied, and it ‘d be silly to deny it. People often say — and we know this to be true scientifically — that without menstruation, we would have no life, since women wouldn’t be able to give birth then. But, accepting the belief that God monitors everything that goes around, both inside and outside the human body and everywhere else, I, a theist, have to ask: Can an All-Powerful God not consider a more comfortable way to cause birth? I don’t know how else to put this in clearer words, but what I wanna say is that menstruation hurts like hell for many, many women. It’s the most painful time of the month for many of us, and the only pain that exceeds the intensity of menstrual pain is the pain of labor. And we all admit that it’s necessary, and Muslims believe that women are rewarded for it because it’s indeed excruciating. But does it HAVE to be this painful? We know God is Powerful, we also know that God is very creative — and we know for certain that everything God makes/lets happen is important or necessary — but, ahhhhhhhh, my Dear God!!!! MUST you make a woman TORTURE at the expense of giving life? No, no, don’t get me wrong: I think our ability to give life is incredibly valuable and beautiful, but I can’t help wondering that an all-Powerful God did not want me to give birth in a more comfortable way than having me suffer, sometimes to death.

    But, of course, if we’re to assume that, no, God is not involved in this at all, or that God does not exist and hence plays no role in this, and that the body does this all without the interference of any Divine Being, then, okay. But *I* believe God is involved, *I* believe God exists, *I* believe God is powerful and capable of doing ANYTHING, including making miracles happen . . . and yet, this same God chose to make all *fertile* women go through hell in order to be able to give children. If you are healthy (enough to create life), you have to go through the pain; if you’re unhealthy, you don’t suffer physically.

    Does anyone get my point?

    • Metis says:

      I get your point 🙂 I have a student and a friend who both suffer from PMS and it is pure torture for them so I know what you mean – and I have given birth so well yea, I hear ya!

      To me the pain is a form of humbling experience for women. It is a time of absolute spirituality (the birthing process) and I know women who have had Cesareans and say that they missed out on the entire experience of being humble from pain and god-like for giving birth. The pain is a reminder of absolute responsibility. Spiritually it must be threatening for men to witness that women stand closer to God in being part of the Creatorship. In fact every female animal does that. This entire universe that we theists believe is created by God owes in part to all female species for executing the Plan. We are part of that Craftsmanship. Hallelujah! 🙂

      • serenity says:

        I wish I could see it as humbling 🙂 ‘Cause I don’t. Maybe/hopefully in the future! For now, it’s unfair. An extreme form of injustice. Why to women? Why does God have to allow only one sex to feel such spiritual closeness to their Creator and *completely* deny it to another sex (supposing it really is that powerful for many women)? And, frankly, me … I would rather feel no closeness to my Creator if I have to suffer as much as I’m required – just to feel closer to him? No. Absolutely not. If it was like once a year, once every 10 years … great! But every freaking month? Oh hell no.

        • Heather says:

          I would like to input that perhaps much of the pain most women go through during their menstrual cycle is partially genetics but much of it due to health, hormonal imbalance, diet and exercise. We live in a very toxic environment.
          It is very common for people living a very clean lifestyle to see a decrease in the pain experienced if not ceasing all together. Just some things to look into, most girls get defensive about what they think is healthy versus what actually seems to be and will mention that they’ve done all they can etc…

          I have found for myself however it is true. Balancing hormones and getting enough greens into my diet along with fresh nutrients, exercise, abstaining from processed sugar, dairy, breads(and for myself, meat) etc has allowed me to no longer be bed ridden once a month for an entire week, has made my bleeding less heavy and certainly allows the spiritual energy expressed in this article to flow more freely and so I am able to focus more on the insightful aspects of this experience.

          Not to suggest all feelings go away but it does dim from pain to simple discomfort.

      • serenity says:

        But, wait, I wanna understand this better. How does it bring a woman closer to God? The more we suffer, the more we pain, the closer to we get/feel to God? I don’t know how this idea works, although I’ve heard it so many times, not necessarily in this same context. All I see women doing during birth is cursing their husbands, their womanhood, God, life, etc., etc. And I totally understand 😐 Why not to curse everything near you?

        And, yes, I know of some women who have had to take a lotta drugs during labor, and they regret it because they are like, “I didn’t really EXPERIENCE childbirth! I was too drugged to feel the pain, to feel my child.” Knowing myself, I’ll be like this, too, but the bitterness about my gender and the infinite pain that comes with it will never go away. I’m almost completely sure of this. And it’s seeing the pain in such a bitter way that makes me think God cannot possibly love men and women in an equal, fair sense, since one doesn’t have to suffer at all and the other suffers like hell.

        A friend told me that, yes, men DO suffer like women do. I asked how, and she said men go through prostrate cancer. Yeah, okay, BUT it’s not for all men — and it’s not for “healthy” men only!

        Anyway, enough of bitterness for the year. hah.

        • Zeina says:

          We have the power of giving birth and men don’t.
          Doesn’t that balance it out for you?
          It’s totally worth it for me 🙂

        • Metis says:

          It is humbling because there is so much pain involved that you are beside yourself. Some women scream some become mute from the shock of pain. It all depends upon your pain threshold but the pain is great and it is a reminder that most men don’t go through pain whereas most women do. The entire process is humbling because one becomes so powerless and weak.

          Many women feel closer to God in the sense they feel standing right in front of God creating life and bringing it into this world.

          If I were a man and my wife was giving birth I would feel so powerless more like the class’ dunce with little part to play than rub her back 😀 But then Alhamdulliah I have a high pain threshold so I may be sounding like it’s no biggie whereas it is!

    • Silvana says:

      I understand your point & it does ‘seem’ as if we’re being tortured on a monthly basis until we learn that the pains of menstruation are ‘practice’ for birth & that the pain of labour is as intense as it is in order to produce the necessary bonding between mother & child. We also must not forget that birth is the only pain in existence for which we get a miracle in return.

      If it matters, I’m a Roman Catholic woman who studied a lot of science at school & was brought up away from the church

  5. @Metis- This essay is amazing! So many great facts. I’ll have to find this and get back to you, but somewhere I read that Sufi’s believe a woman’s period is a time of deep spirituality (i.e., a good thing rather than a bad thing). I’ll find the source!

    @Zeina- I have several friends of mine that are couples who have sex on their period and absolutely no harm has come to either man or woman. Perhaps the Dr.’s paranoia about infection, inflammation and harm is because they relate such things that happen due to other factors, to having sex on a woman’s period- From what my friends have told me and from everything I’ve heard/seen, none of what they claim is true. It seems that maybe they’re using ‘science’ and ‘medicine’ to validate what they already believe culturally. What do you think?

    • Metis says:

      Oh please do, MSV! I’ll wait …

    • Nahida says:

      It seems that maybe they’re using ‘science’ and ‘medicine’ to validate what they already believe culturally. What do you think?

      Yes! People do this all the time. There was a study that came out a couple of years ago that “proved” eating sperm is “healthy” for pregnant women. *rolls eyes* I bet…

  6. Zeina says:

    Then again, people who have unprotected sex would say that the STD’s aren’t related to that because they know people who have unprotected sex who haven’t had STD…same thing applies here. Of course I am not validating him as the only opinion out there and he can very well be wrong. But I haven’t seen a doctor disqualify any of what he said… Please refer me to any links if you have (and considering that he IS a doctor, I would trust more in his medical opinion, so to speak)

    And to me personally, I don’t need a medical justification for something that has been religiously justified (If you have a different explanation to the Quranic verse that states this, or a different take on it, I’d be more than happy to hear it!) And since Allah asked men to abstain during the woman’s cycle, whether for medical reasons or other, I think that is enough for me to oblige.
    And just because I refrain from sex during my period, doesn’t mean I am ashamed of it, and it certainly doesn’t make valid any of the points that Metis highlighted in her blogpost (the whole cultural taboo on the whole idea of menstruation is beyond ridiculous).

  7. Coolred38 says:

    We are not speaking of the harm a period causes a womans body so much as the absolute disgust so many find in the biological process itself. I have heard people give a blow by blow account of their latest stomach flu bout, complete with bowel movement numbers, colors, and whatnot….but the moment a period is mentioned…eyes glaze over and noses are wrinkled in disgust. Excuses are made and they are off and running.

    My ex husband had to be talked into buying me pads in the beginning…but had no problems whatsoever buying condoms at the pharmacy while I was standing right there..in a Muslim country…with the sales clerk eyeing me up and smirking.

    It is the biggest bit of propaganda to ever brainwash the entire human species….how else can you explain a woman being seen as a source of power while menustrating….to becoming a source of pollution?

    Oh yeah…religion.

  8. Sana says:

    Thanks,, I really wanted to read this again as I had show it to my husband. But somehow I could not access it. Thanks again

  9. Lat says:

    yes birthing is a humbling experience and in Tamil Indian society mothers are treated like gods.So far as I’ve read,suffering is part of spirituality if not the whole.Perhaps pain makes us aware of our condition and what it takes to relieve that pain.In the birthing process,what strikes me most is the moment of release of the baby.The feeling of emptiness of both pain and weight.It’s like I’ve been released and joy is all I have to bear for the moment.If death is painful,then women can experience it too with the baby dying in the womb.It’s as if a ‘blueprint’ exists in a woman. Loved the last para,

    “Truth is that “menstruation is an initiatory time, when women can potentially open to a highly charged altered state, giving them access to a singular kind of power. The power of self awareness, deep feeling, knowingness, intuition. A power that matures over time with each cycle” (Alexandra Pope)”

    And after menopause,a woman can only speak the truth,so says Women’s Spirituality.

    • Metis says:

      Thanks for your comment Lat. I really enjoyed reading your thought. What do you mean by “And after menopause,a woman can only speak the truth”? It sounds so intriguing.

  10. Sana says:

    One thing I feel unfair is that women cannot give birth after a certain age I.e. Menopause while men have unlimited supply of semen sperms, I feel that god has let him have children for as long as he wants while poor women have to rush it before reaching their menopause, very very unfair:(. They are born with all the eggs, but they don’t continue producing it throughout their lifetime but men have no such limitations, am I right?:)

  11. Lat says:

    In the book,it says,

    “Chemicals produced by menopause open “comduits of higher wisdom”.It’s a time of great perspective and personal power that produces freedom and authenticity.This is when women speak their truth,regardless of consequences.” With your quote above,I think,menopause gives another cycle of power of innate wisdom of grace.

    Further in the book, a woman of 65 yrs old says,”I can ‘see’ why things have happened in my life..and ‘see’ the evolution of my consciousness,my soul.I also ‘see’ thru’ the propaganda of the culture”. The spirituality within helps to unlock the mess that imprisons you,so to speak.The lesson I learn is that at first the body seems like a grave,imprisoning your soul but actually it’s like a door to your inner truth.Perhaps that’s why old people are revered in the East.

    Just to mention something to what Sana said above,men while providing the seed are not encharged naturally with most of the other work concerning the baby.It’s the women who had to do that.It’s a huge responsibility.A responsiblity a seed provider does not know unless he’s been in the boat.And time doesn’t wait for us.When we got to do,we just got to do 🙂 I’ve read in the papers that older men have less fertile sperms as they age.so not necessarily healthy either.The taking of viagara may even be going against the natural slowing down process of sexual activity for men at that age.Women not be able to give birth thru’ menopause or not, is also a form of power that is instilled in us thru’ nature.Like you it’s also how I felt for a long time but now I feel freed from this knowledge 🙂

  12. Lat says:

    Hhmm..my comment is missing 🙂

  13. susanne430 says:

    I think it’s a blessing that women can’t give birth after a certain age. Can you imagine some countries where men keep their women pregnant all the time? We’d have 80 year old women producing their 50th child. Bless their hearts, they need a break! And children don’t need 80 year old mothers! Women need an opportunity to slow down and enjoy their children without the job of producing more, more, more for the sake of men spreading their seed all over the place! And if the man was faithful to one woman, he wouldn’t be out making more babies when he is 75, 90, 110 even if he did still have sperm to spare.

    The Jewish “myths” speak of why women have pain during childbirth. You can find that in the early parts of Genesis. Men were cursed also, but not in this sense. I suppose since breeding was the domain of women, this pain affected them. Since men were traditionally the providers for the family, they were hit in that aspect. And it was all because of sin. Yes, sin. I know..so old-fashioned or whatever, but that’s the biblical myth anyway. The explanation for this “unfairness” of God.

    BTW, I enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing it again!

  14. […] knows I’m menstruating. I love menstruating. It’s painful and messy and I love it. LOL PENIS ENVY. HAHAHAHAHA. Cis men and their patriarchy. You WISH you could give […]

  15. DeAnna L'am says:

    Much valuable information in this article! However, it is not true that “women were put away in “menstrual huts”, rather they withdrew there from everyday chores so that they can indeed commune with spirit, divine for their tribes, as well as rest and replenish…

  16. Kat says:

    I remember reading in “Mutant Message Down Under” that the Aborigines collected menstrual blood and used it to heal wounds… might have even been a broken leg they gave as an example in the book. Anyway, they didn’t give much detail, but I thought it was interesting. ❤

    • Silvana says:

      My understanding of the withdrawal, at least in tribes in Papua New Guinea who I studied when I did Anthropology, was that he women were getting time off & that it was a positive & in some ways, holy, thing. But it was definitely for them to rest & nothing to do with them being either shunned or put away.

  17. DeAnna L'am says:

    Indeed, I agree, Silvana 🙂 I wrote the comment since the post states: “women were put away in “menstrual huts”, and “put away” didn’t imply reverence…

  18. Metis says:

    Thank you for your comments, ladies 🙂 And welcome to Metis.

    In certain cultures a menstrual hut is seen as keeping away *unclean* women. I was particularly referring to Hinduism in which some cultures don’t even allow women to touch food lest it becomes unclean.

    A very interesting study is here – http://jezebel.com/5917264/menstrual-huts-a-tricky-way-for-men-to-ensure-ladies-dont-cheat-on-them

  19. […] 12. Feministyczna opowieść o menstruacji. […]

  20. […] feminist standpoint, but for now, you can read something by my friend Metis that I’ve enjoyed here. (I reject its use of the word “primitive,” but other than that, the information is […]

  21. […] “Menstruation became associated with male honour and hence odd traditional practices developed like the Jewish tradition (note: it is not a religiously sanctioned tradition) of slapping a daughter who starts her period. It is believed that the original purpose was to “slap sense” into a newly fertile girl, warning her not to disgrace the family by becoming pregnant out of wedlock; or to “awaken” her out of her childhood slumber and into her role as a Jewish woman.” https://musfem.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/a-feminist-history-of-menstruation/ […]

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