Saturday, March 03, 2007

FILM: Period: The End of Menstruation

Period: The End of Menstruation looks like a fascinating film exploring a huge variety of issues about menstruation. I’ve never been on birth control myself and, consequently, have never had my menstrual cycle altered. I think that I’ve been menstruating about twenty-five years now. To be perfectly honest, it’s never bothered me to menstruate. Yes, I’ve had period with bad cramps. Yes, there have been moments of being uncomfortable. Yes, there have been a few days - probably less than a handful - when I thought, wow, I wish I didn’t have my period today, but really it’s been just a normal and regular part of my life.

That’s not to say, of course, that I don’t look forward to menopause. I do. Earlier this year, when I started exercising, I would have these hot flashes as my body was adjusting to the physical activity. I thought that it might be the beginning of menopause. It clearly wasn’t, I haven’t had one in about a month now. It was a consequence of the exercise. Still, there is something about menopause that I look forward to, even though it is probably ten to fifteen years away.

I don’t idealize menstruation. It doesn’t make me feel particularly cyclical or close to the giving of life. It doesn’t make me feel in touch with the moon or the tides, though I do like both. I resonate with cultural feminist messages about menstruation as a time of power. I like Anita Diamant’s book, The Red Tent, about menstruation and women sitting out in their own space their menstrual periods and their time after giving birth. I like these stories, but I don’t feel them in some visceral way in my body - the affection is all between my ears.

I have to admit being disturbed by contemporary tendencies to alter menstruation. I’ve met young women who take birth control pills sequentially with no break for bleeding. I’ve known people to seek out the new pill, Seasonale, which apparently eliminates for a time one’s period. I wonder, why would you not want to have your period? What effect are those hormones having on the body? I refrain from being too moralistic about this because I’m a lesbian and don’t have to deal with the incredibly inadequate birth control options that we have as women and men. Still I wonder about these things. What are the medical impacts? What are the social impacts? What does it say about how we view our bodies and the processes of our bodies at this moment that we want to end menstruation?

I hope that there is a showing of the film in the Washington, DC area. It sounds fascinating.

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