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Men and Menstruation

A Social Transaction

Series:

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 Nine: Menstrual Mischief and Transgressions

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CHAPTER   NINE

Menstrual Mischief and Transgressions

 

Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!… Let but the commons hear this testament, Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read, And they would kiss dead Caesar’s wounds, And dip their napkins in his sacred blood, Yea, beg a hair of him for memory, And dying, mention it within their wills, Bequeathing it as a rich legacy Unto their issue.

Marc Anthony Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2

Mark Anthony’s lines capture one view of a particular kind of blood loss: arterial blood that has been shed in the service of one’s country; blood lost in martyrdom; blood that is so valuable as to be worthy of being soaked up and preserved as a cherished memento. This view echoes the veneration given Christ’s blood as expressed in numerous stories, songs, and images. In fact, the belief in the concept of transubstantiation is so strong that once communion wine has been blessed and transformed into blood, priests have been known to fall upon the floor to lick up any of the fluid that has accidentally spilled from the chalice. The belief in the ← 155 | 156 → power of the blood of Christ is so strong that the greatest wish of many Christians is to be “washed in the blood” of Christ.

Similarly, in an echo of the practice that Anthony prescribed, members of the Calabrian...

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