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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.

“In a tour de force, David Linton explores the presence (and absence) of menstruation in both high and low culture. Linton’s comprehensive and witty examination of men’s reactions to menstruation in daily life, as well as in various forms of media, is a capstone of his thirty years of scholarly work on the topic. I can recommend this entertaining and accessible book to a broad range of readers with interests in popular culture, sex education, and gender and women’s studies.” —Joan C. Chrisler, Editor of Women’s Reproductive Health

“Many believe that menstruation is ‘lady business.’ Not so. Menstruation’s complicated and often contradictory meanings are made through what David Linton dubs, ‘the menstrual transaction.’ Indeed, men have been a part of the conversation all along, but their role has been limited to that of outsiders, myth makers and antagonists who either run for the hills or weaponize their ignorance and discomfort. We can do better. The shifting of men (and boys) from menstrual bullies to menstrual allies requires a good hard look at the various texts that transform a bodily process into so much more. A great place to start is Linton’s carefully curated tour through the sometimes painful, often funny and always illuminating menstrual discourses that leave no doubt we can and we must rewrite the rules.” —Chris Bobel, Author of New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation and The Managed Body: Developing Girls and Menstrual Health in the Global South

“A book on menstruation by a man? The clear answer, in this case, is YES. Readers, men and women alike, who can bypass doubts and the impulse to joke will find a treasure of information and wisdom in this fascinating, beautifully written account of how both sexes, together, invent the meaning of menstruation and their responses to it. The witty introduction (‘Menses and Me’) is worth the price of the book alone, but David Linton goes on to show how menstruation is dealt with in film, TV, ads, books, songs, and humor. ‘Guys are really clueless!’ one student told him. This book will clue them in. Women, too.” —Carol Tavris, Author of The Mismeasure of Woman and Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion; Co-author of Estrogen Matters and Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)