Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation

by Elissa Stein, Susan Kim | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 031237996X Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 3/2/2013
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, March 02, 2013
This Unshelved Book Club review got me interested in this book, and I tracked down this good-condition hardcover on Better World Books. The title and the cheery cover amused me - note the little monthly calendar in the corner!

The book turns out to be an interesting (and often maddening) look at the subject, primarily as treated in the US but with notes on other cultures' practices turning up here and there. And there are lots and lots of reproductions of ads, advice columns, educational pamphlets, etc., many of them hilarious.

The authors' tone is bright, breezy, and flippant, for the most part, and quite readable. They include lots of helpful information (including an extensive bibliography of books and web sites). They open with "five things we didn't know before we wrote this book," and go on to discuss everything from language (the words used to describe menstruation indicate that culture's feelings about the subject) to "where we are now" regarding ways to handle periods. They look at historical views of the female reproductive system, and the way-off-base ideas that in many cases survived until an embarrassingly recent date. The chapter "seeing red" goes into the moody-hormone-swing/PMS situation, and includes a reference to a delightful study in which researchers "listed classic symptoms of PMS, but replaced the term with the gender-neutral Episodic Dysphoric Disorder. A surprising number of men felt they had suffered from it, and their female friends agreed with them." The authors speculate that perhaps being cyclically moody is human nature...

Those of us old enough to remember the early days of maxi-pads that had to be worn with little elastic belts will either smile or wince (or perhaps both) at some of the vintage ads included here. There's a two-page spread of Modess ads from the '50s, in which lovely models in exquisite designer gowns are shown wafting about the landscape, with the oh-so-helpful caption "Modess... because". I guess the concept of content-free ads has been around for some time! But not all ads were this discreet; there's a list of excerpts from other ads from the '30s to the '50s, titled "Vaginal Odor as Soap Opera", in which women were urged to buy "vaginal cleansing" items (including such substances as Lysol!), to avoid the "intimate neglect" that could turn off their husbands.

The chapter on a girl's first period touches on different cultural handling of such, from making it a huge deal, a literal coming-of-age, to trying to keep it as hush-hush as possible - and sometimes both, as when well-meaning family members try to make an occasion of something that the girls in question would prefer to have ignored.

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, October 10, 2013

Released 7 yrs ago (10/12/2013 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA


I'm adding this to the Medicine Chest IV bookbox, which I'll be moving along soon. (See the forum thread here for the mailing order, and the bookbox journal for the lists of books taken and added.) Hope someone enjoys the book!

Journal Entry 3 by quietorchid at Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on Saturday, January 25, 2014
Came home in the Medicine chest IV. Looks interesting.

This was fun to poke through. Some good information, and lots of cool old advertising.

Released 6 yrs ago (10/5/2014 UTC) at Gingko Coffee Shop - Snelling And Minnehaha in Saint Paul, Minnesota USA


Left on the shelf to find a new reader!

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