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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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Part I: Men and the Menstrual Landscape


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Men and the Menstrual Landscape

At first glance it might seem that men would have little to do with deciding how to view the menstrual cycle, how to manage its regular occurrence, how women and men should behave in its presence. But in societies where men decide what virtually everything means, from seemingly trivial matters such as hair styles and clothing choices to one’s notions of god and eternity, and even how and when to have sexual intercourse, then it is unavoidable that men would play a part in deciding how to manage the monthly appearance of menstrual fluid that women experience.

The first three chapters of this book delve into wide ranging aspects of male encounters with menstruation. The first chapter introduces the concept of “the menstrual transaction,” how men and women jointly participate in shaping their relationships in a menstrual context. The second chapter offers a perspective on how the ancient religious traditions that lie at the heart of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity defined menstruation and describes the three Biblical incidents involving menstruating women that shaped the Christian faith. The third chapter is a case study of one man’s unfortunate encounter with the menstrual rules of order and how it affected his public image, the sad saga of Charles, Prince of Wales. ← 15 | 16 →

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