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The Process of Becoming a Woman’s Body: Menstruation and the Containment of Femininity

Guthrie, Meredith (2007) The Process of Becoming a Woman’s Body: Menstruation and the Containment of Femininity. MP: An Online Feminist Journal, 1 (5). ISSN 1939-330X

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No body event in a girl’s (or a woman’s) life is more ambivalently coded than menstruation. Tied to both the filth of bodily waste and the possibility of motherhood, menstruation has powerful social connotations that lead to its virtual erasure from “polite” discourse. When menstruation or menarche is acknowledged openly, it is usually done for one reason: containment. The two billion dollar a year feminine hygiene industry offers items for sale that “protect,” but the actual mechanics of menstruation are never addressed in the industry’s advertising, saving vulnerable men and children from the knowledge of what, exactly, menstrual products do. Why do we need so much protection from menstruation, and who, exactly, is being protected? Where does the danger lie? This paper addresses the ways girls are taught to contain the potential dangers of menstruation and argues that hiding the realities of menstruation forms part of girls’ larger project of learning to shape their bodies into the “contained” or “classical” body of normative femininity.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Guthrie, Meredithguthrie@pitt.eduGUTHRIE
Date: 7 January 2007
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: MP: An Online Feminist Journal
Volume: 1
Number: 5
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Menstruation, feminine, hygiene, menarche, menses, period, puberty, filth, gender, performance, the, gendered, body, femininity, consumer, culture, girls’, magazines, body, guides, adolescence, youth, culture, cultural, taboos, rites, of, passage, feminine, hygiene, advertising, Tampax, tampons, Always, pads, Children, and, the, media, Depictions, of, weight, in, tween, literature, The, rise, of, the, tween, Marketing, and, celebrity, culture
ISSN: 1939-330X
Official URL:
Related URLs:
Additional Information: Copyright for this piece is held by Dr. Guthrie. She has given permission for this piece to be published in D-Scholarship.
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2009 20:01
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2017 05:11


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