In her short essay “If Men Could Menstruate,” Gloria Steinam explores the sexism behind this period-negativity.  She asks, for example, why the ability to give life didn’t lead Freud to theorize about “womb envy” instead of penis envy.  She also vividly constructs the world which would arise “if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not…  Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event: Men would brag about how long and how much.  Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day… Generals, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation (“men-struation”) as proof that only men could serve God and country in combat (“You have to give blood to take blood”), occupy high political office (“Can women be properly fierce without a monthly cycle governed by the planet Mars?”), be priests, ministers, God Himself (“He gave this blood for our sins”), or rabbis (“Without a monthly purge of impurities, women are unclean”)… TV shows would treat the subject openly…Of course, intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguments. Without the biological gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets, how could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics– or the ability to measure anything at all? In philosophy and religion, how could women compensate for being disconnected from the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death and resurrection every month?… In short, we would discover, as we should already, that logic is in the eye of the logician.”

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