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Saletan’s Period Piece

Here’s our most astute scientific commentator on the bloodless revolution. The feminists contend that menstruation can hardly be called the the natural condition of women, and Saletan reminds us of the most natural way to avoid regular periods. Arguably the new pill is technological liberation from a chronic condition that was also a social, technological construction. William also observes that the main reason women may find for liberating themselves from cylical tyranny is pleasing men by not inconveniencing them with their particularly female troubles.

Discussions - 6 Comments

The feminists contend that menstruation can hardly be called the the natural condition of women

You guys meet some wacky feminists. The vast majority of the feminists I've read or met embrace their periods (and vaginas) as something uniquely female and, therefore, something which can be extremely liberating. There's a ton of feminist art out there along those same lines (Heartland, The Dinner Party, "The Vagina Monologues", etc.). I'm interested to know where these crazies are who want to abandon all femininity so that they can become asexual man-haters. If you don't know of any other types of feminists than the ones who hate being women, then I don't think you're reading the serious ones . . .

I'm just curious.

Matt, your feminists are the ones Saletan refers to as "crunchy" feminists. How many of them have longed for the other type of menstrual suppression mentioned in the article?

I read this sentence and laughed aloud. Primitive women seldom menstruated, since they were pregnant or breastfeeding. as nearly half of my adult life was so spent, naturally suppressing menstruation. Clearly I am no feminist, especially not of the asexual man-hating variety.

I know some women who would take these menses suppressing drugs not even as a form of birth-control, but rather because “We don’t want to confront our bodily functions anymore, ... We’re too busy.” as quoted from the New York Times article cited by Saletan. Besides: Doctors say they know of no medical reason women taking birth control pills need to have a period. The monthly bleeding that women on pills experience is not a real period, in fact. Which makes me feel better. If you are going to take birth control pills and are willing to live with the side effects and possible effect on your future reproduction, what the heck? Why put up with the inconvenience of menstruation, too?

Most women I know, mostly not feminists, find this aspect of womanhood inconvenient. They do not hate being a woman, they are simply not crazy about this aspect of it. Do you guys all wear beards as a celebration of your masculinity? No, I do not say this is the same thing, as it is tied to reproduction and other health issues for women. But I would say that as a physical expression of what it is to be a woman, this might not be at the top of the list.

Boy, has the world turned completely upside down side since the "women's movement" came onto it. What most don't remember is that most "feminists" wanted equality of opportunity and pay. We marched for that at the ABC Entertainment Center in Century City. I've watched as the "bra burners" took over the movement and made it into a "hate" men, period, no excuses! For this type of female, no menstruation is precisely what has been their goal all along...being men is so "butch" and a world with no men would be a great achievement! For the women among us, menstruation may be a monthly headache, but it is what makes a woman a woman. When I breastfed my three, I also had a period at the same time. I also remember when the "pill" was a big deal and we were told it had only slight side we know what the effects were. Tell the scientists to do a 50 year study on female subjects, maybe then I'll trust what they have to say. And, please, stop telling us what the Neanderthals or Cro Magnon did, there is no crystal clear evidence of 98% of what's is perceived as "truth" when it comes to homo sapiens over 50,000 years ago!!!

William also observes that the main reason women may find for liberating themselves from cyclical tyranny is pleasing men by not inconveniencing them with their particularly female troubles.

Isn't "pleasing men" always the real reason for most feminist accommodation? Though I'm no crunchy con--and certainly no crunchy feminist--I think I have more sympathy with them on this one. Kate makes the beginnings of a good point with her comment on men and their beards--but the metaphor would really only be apt if men would have to take a drug to suppress the hormones that cause that hair to grow (and thus eliminate the need for shaving and do "God knows what" to their bodies over time). As the metaphor is, the equivalent of "not shaving" for women would be something that is just a bit too nasty to discuss in this forum.

On the other hand . . . when they discover a pill that makes shaving the legs unnecessary . . . all bets may be off!

Julie, How far would you take this liberation from body hair? True equality would seem to demand that everyone be equally bald everywhere.

Perhaps that's the real explanation for Britney Spears' apparent insanity, Peter. She's a maverick for women's rights and equality? But I stand by my assertion that the shaving of legs (though I wouldn't think of living as the French) is a far more inconvenient burden than this other burden of womanhood is to me. But (except in the most extreme cases) the self-imposed burdens usually are harder to bear than those imposed nature . . .

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