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Men and Menstruation

A Social Transaction


David Linton

What’s with the men in menstruation? This is the question Men in Menstruation: A Social Transaction sets out to answer. From earliest times men have been puzzled and perplexed by the menstrual cycle and have constructed elaborate taboos, superstitions, and practices attempting to explain why women have a periodical emission of a fluid that resembles blood but is not the result of an injury or affliction. In other words, men want to know why it is possible to bleed and not die. In order to understand what goes on between men and women in the presence of menstruation,  this book examines a variety of encounters, referred to as "menstrual transactions." From the three women in the Bible who are identified as menstruating to contemporary films, advertising, TV programs and literature, the book explores a wide range of transactions, even including Prince Charles’s close encounter of a menstrual kind. The book will appeal to anyone interested in gaining insights into the mystery of menstruation as well as students of gender and women’s studies or media theory and history.

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Chapter Three: A Royal Menstrual Pain: Prince Charles and the Tampon Scandal


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A Royal Menstrual Pain

Prince Charles and the Tampon Scandal


“Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand that I might touch that cheek!”

Romeo, Romeo and Juliet, II, 1, 66–67 William Shakespeare

Mention the names “Prince Charles” and “Camilla Parker-Bowles” or more specifically, “Camillagate” or “the Prince Charles tampon scandal,” and those who remember anything about this 1993 piece of gossip will surely say something like, “Oh yeah, that’s the story about the Prince of Wales wanting to be a tampon.” Thus the words “tampon” and “Prince Charles” have become inextricably linked in popular imagination and memory. In fact, if you list those two terms in a Google search, you will be told that there are well over 600,000 items to look at, though many are zany or weird personal web sites that actually have little to do with the scandal. Similarly, a Lexis/Nexis search will yield more than 200 hits, depending on whether you use the term “tampon” or “Tampax.”

Coverage of this story in the popular media went through twists and turns that offer a glimpse into one couple’s intimate fantasies regarding the menstrual transaction as well as a full frontal view of the larger society’s public attitudes and assumptions about appropriate behavior when it comes to the topic of menstruation. It also illustrates how deeply conflicted menstrual values are and how the ← 55...

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