You… complete me?

Flow sweetly, hang heavy

You suddenly complete me

You suddenly complete me

Flow sweetly, hang heavy

You suddenly complete me

You suddenly complete me
– Hysteric: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 

To be honest it is hard to love my uterus. Some days I just want to rip Her out, toss Her aside and walk away. Yes I am aware of how crazy this sounds, but really, She tends to overdo it sometimes. Do I consider Her as something that completes me?

A roaring shouting ‘NO’ is my reply to this question.

Why ‘NO’? Because since women have menstruated, they have been told of how incredibly bad and debilitating their menses is. Termed ‘the curse’, menstruation has been described as not only a pollutant to the body, but also something to be feared by men, society and even women themselves.

In the fourth and fifth centuries, the Hippocratics saw the female body as one that, if not pregnant, was in danger of its ‘wandering womb’. The womb was assumed to be able to attach itself to the heart or brain, sending flows of blood through a number of channels throughout the female body (Dean Jones, 1994, pp. 69-70). Can you imagine what our menses would feel like if our uterus could get up and travel around our body once a month? Additionally, in his encyclopedia of Natural History, the philosopher Pliny the Elder discusses the damaging effects of the presence of menstrual blood including, turning wine sour, the rusting of iron and the “odour” of menstrual blood filling the air, causing animals to go mad (Delaney, Lupton and Toth, 1976, p. 7). With all this negative historical (and present) discourse why would any woman believe that her menstrual cycle completes her?

I know we need to excuse the absurdity of such discourse as modern medicine was centuries away, but the idea of the wandering womb and menses as a force to be reckoned with did not disappear in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

In The Woman in the Body (1987) Emily Martin explores how in the nineteenth century the uterus was said to operate similar to the system of capitalism. The uterus was viewed as a reproductive machine that was either functioning properly, outputting the product essential to capitalism, babies, or it was malfunctioning, producing menstrual waste. This same analogy continues today as women are reminded that every cycle she gets is in fact a malfunction of what her uterus was designed to do. While I am not suggesting that pregnancy is a bad thing, I am suggesting that telling women that menstruation is a malfunction of her uterine machine is quite harmful.

Even more harmful is the actual system women invest themselves in each time they purchase, consume and dispose of feminine hygiene products. While I agree these menstrual aids have allowed women more freedom, they also contribute to a culture of self-regulation and secrecy. I find it alarming that we are so invested in the economy of menstruation we try so hard to break free from. We are even willing to insert a padded stick of chemicals in us, just to conceal the fact that we are bleeding.

The author Gloria Steinem asked this in 1981:

“What would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?
Clearly menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:
Men would brag about how long and how much.
Young boys would talk about it as an envied beginning of manhood.
Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day.
To prevent monthly work loss among the powerful, Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea.”

Why aren’t we celebrating and bragging about how long and how much? Why is it that we need to stuff pads and tampons up our sleeves and ‘spot check’ our backside on our way out the door? Where are our period parties and celebrations? Maybe it is time we adopt some of the bragging rights we have for so long concealed and hushed through euphemisms and embarrassed blood stories. Let us celebrate our menses and brag a little, whom could it hurt? In fact if more of us celebrated menstruation, our daughters, nieces and granddaughters might actually receive a Hallmark card that reads, “Congratulations on getting your period!” rather than the continual messages of how to conceal and regulate the very thing that does in fact… complete her.

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This entry was posted in hystory.

One comment on “You… complete me?

  1. Becca says:

    I think someone should approach Hallmark…

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