Friday, July 15, 2011

Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim

Period. Aunt Flo. The Curse. There are lots of different ways to talk about menstruation, and just as many ways to not talk about it. Menstruation is big business, yet the word 'period' wasn't said on TV until 1985. Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation takes a look at menstruation from biological, historical, economic, social, and cultural perspectives, casting a new light on one of the world's oldest taboos.

There is a ton of information packed into this book. Some of it reads like something you'd come across in Women's Studies 101, but it's way more fun than any of my text books ever were. Straightforward, accessible writing is accompanied by lots of pictures, images, and advertisements (and for most of it, if I wasn't seeing it, I wouldn't be believing it). As someone who has, from time to time, thought about buying "Modess...because" advertising prints to hang as art (near my bathroom, naturally), I knew I would likely enjoy this book. It got me thinking about a lot of things: why are periods still so taboo, even when talking with my closest friends? when's the last time I saw a femcare ad happening in a bathroom? where and how did I get my own thoughts about my period? why do so few historical accounts talk about menstruation? There are a ton of wonderful tidbits to glean from this book: Lysol's connection to menstruation, the period vaccuum, the tampon/pad wars, water and advertisements, cultural and religious approaches to menstruation. If you've ever been curious about any aspect of menstruation, this book is an excellent place to start. Read it, and then share it.

Find it at IndieBound.

Check out Flow: The Book's website.

Read it with:
Capitalizing on the Curse: The Business of Menstruation by Elizabeth Arveda Kissling
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World by Judy Grahn

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