OK, I’m not sure how relevant this is, but I’m doing research for a book about periods for teen girls. Not an “I’m about to get my period someday, ack what do I do?” book, and not a teen magazine-type “quizzes to tell if you have PMS” book. I’m writing an angsty book about blood for teen girls who are freaks and geeks and drama-club junkies. A book about all the gross and bizarre and weird and kind of cool things surrounding menstruation and periods. Like what did women in the 1400s do with their periods?
So, I’m doing research to see what’s out there and I’m a little disgusted. Changing Bodies, Changing Lives and Our Bodies, Ourselves have all the technical information that you would need about bodies and menstruation. But 1) they are written like text books, and they really sterilize the subject. And 2) How come the one for adults has endnotes, but the one for teens doesn’t? This is the same as every single other book on the subject I found written specifically for teens. You don’t write a book about Abe Lincoln and exclude your sources, so why not list sources on this subject? Partly, I think it’s because most of these books only give the most basic and general information so they don’t need sources. But also I think that there’s a slight bias against giving girls any way of finding out information about periods (which might lead them to information about SEX!) that an adult is not controlling. If I’m right, then that’s both dangerous and ludicrous.
Rant #2. All the non-textbook books on the subject have pastel pink and purple covers and cutesy, curvy, girly illustrations of super-fem females with ponytails. Hello! Do they think that only girls who have American Girl dolls or read Teen Magazine are going to bleed? Or is it just that the subject is so completely FEMALE that they feel the need to bring out all the possible sub-conscious socialization signals that they can think of?
Rant #3. There are thirty books in my local library about Menopause and pre-menopause. But there are two outdated books about menstruation in the junior section and there are two books sort of about menstruation in the adult non-fic (but they’re really both about charting your cycle so that you can achieve natural childbirth or birth-control). Why do we care so much about the end of bleeding but we don’t talk at all about the bleeding itself? I mean, half of us do it, have done it, or will do it. And I calculated, I will most likely spend 5 and 1/2 years of my life (YEARS!) bleeding. So what’s up with that?
And then those books that there are are all general. None of them talk about the politics of menstruation. Most of them say that the only way to deal with your flow is with pads or tampons. None of them mention intuition surrounding your period. All of them downplay PMS–both the physical and emotional experiences. And almost none of them encourage exploration or thought around the subject. Some of them pay lip-service to the idea that this is a time to celebrate your female-ness. But even that is kind of stupid because no-one except the most hippy-dippy optimistic of us all is going to welcome the flo every single time. But most of them treat it as just a kind of monthly disease to be gotten through. And I wonder if this is part of why it’s not always so fun to be female in our society? The things that set us apart are almost completely taboo to talk about, and we’re all just trying to move forward and get everything that men have.
OK, I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone. I’m just frustrated.
But, I have come across two cool books and one website. One of them about sex and one about being a “gurl.” Deal with It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL and Sex: A Book for Teens: An Uncensored Guide to Your Body, Sex, and Safety. Both of these seem really awesome and informative and they don’t talk down to teens. Also, Deal with It came out of the website http://www.gurl.com/ which seems to be a wonderful resource for teens about everything from the political to the absurd to the heart breaking. There are book lists and links about incest, rape, dating, sexuality, coming out. Just all sorts of great things.
So that’s my rant for today.